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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Building Inspection is open to the public by appointment only.

For more on appointments and other services, please see the Building Inspection Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

View all impacts to City service on the City's COVID-19 website.


As a tenant, you have the right to call Building Inspection. You also have the right to ask housing providers to fix housing issues. Housing providers must not engage in retaliation, per Madison General Ordinance Ch 32.


What is retaliation?

Retaliation is when a housing provider takes an action against a tenant who exercises a right. Unfortunately, retaliation means a negative action must take place. The law does not protect you from retaliatory actions. Yet, the law provides a way to resolve these actions and mitigate their harm. The following are rights under the Madison General Ordinances:

  • Making a complaint to Building Inspection.

  • Applying for rent abatement.

  • Asking a housing provider to fix a code violation.

Once the negative act happens, the City of Madison may prosecute the action as a violation of the law. You must file a complaint before the City can look into any claims of retaliatory actions.

What could retaliation look like?
  • Refusing to renew the lease.
  • Filing an eviction action.
  • Harassing or intimidating words or actions.
  • Raising the rent or refusing to accept rental payments.
  • Changing the services available to a tenant.
  • Failing to perform promised repairs.
  • Reducing or turning off the water, electricity, or heat (always illegal).
  • Charging fees.
  • Taking some other negative action.


To report retaliation

  1. Fill out this form (PDF). Use this form if you intend to print it and then fill it out. Make sure you sign the form.
  2. Submit the completed form
    • By email to
    • By mail to P.O. Box 2984 Madison, WI 53701-2984.
    • By drop off, we have a drop box located at the Doty Street door of the Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.

For retaliation based on a protected class, contact the Department of Civil Rights.


For housing providers

Within six months of a tenant complaint, actions against them may be seen as retaliation. You may need to prove the action was not retaliatory.


Complaint process

  1. Intake. The tenant submits their signed complaint to Building Inspection. We will review the complaint to make sure it has all the necessary information. If so, we send the complaint to the Equal Opportunities Division (EOD) for processing.
  2. Early Mediation. EOD assigns a professional mediator to the complaint. The mediator sees whether the parties can come to a resolution. If so, they can avoid a formal investigation. Early mediation is voluntary and confidential. If a party waives mediation, or if it is unsuccessful, the next step is investigation.
  3. Investigation. EOD will assign an Equal Opportunities Investigator to the complaint. The Investigator will investigate the actions in the complaint. If the Investigator finds retaliation did not occur, they will dismiss the complaint. If the they find cause that retaliation did occur, the complaint will go to conciliation.
  4. Conciliation. EOD will assign a professional conciliator. The conciliator will see whether the parties can come to a resolution. If so, they will avoid prosecution. Conciliation is voluntary and confidential. If a party waives conciliation or if it is unsuccessful, the complaint will go to prosecution.
  5. Prosecution. With the investigative report, the City Attorney’s office will decide which the actions to take against the housing provider. These actions could include filing a complaint against the provider in municipal court. The landlord may have to pay a fine ($150-$900) for each act of retaliation against the tenant. The tenant can also sue the landlord in civil court to seek remedies.
Last Updated: 06/29/2022

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