In Wyoming, as with any other state, if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established (even without a written lease), and with this relationship comes rights and responsibilities for both parties.
Basic Landlord Responsibilities
Keep the rental fit to live in. The landlord is required to provide housing that is habitable and to make repairs in a timely manner when required.
Quiet enjoyment. The landlord is required not to disturb the tenant’s rights to peacefully and reasonably use their rented space.
Basic Tenant Responsibilities
Pay rent on time. If the tenant does not pay rent in full and in a timely manner, the landlord has the right to take action to end the tenancy.
Cover excessive damages. Tenants are responsible to cover the costs of damages to the property beyond normal “wear and tear”.
With that said, Wyoming varies from other states on additional rights and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants. Wyoming law even varies on both the interpretation of the above rights and the rules on handling violations.
Warranty of Habitability in Wyoming
Landlord Responsibilities. Wyoming’s current landlord-tenant laws dictate that all landlords have a chief responsibility in maintaining their rental housing units in a “safe and sanitary condition fit for human habitation.” To this extent, Wyoming landlords also have a duty to “protect the physical health and safety of the renter” by providing certain amenities and repairs to all tenants. These essential amenities include the following:
- Safe electric wiring, outlets, and fixtures
- Adequate plumbing
- In-unit heating
- An adequate supply of hot and cold water
As long as a Wyoming tenant is current on all payments (including rent), they may request (in writing) repairs to any of the amenities listed above as well as repairs to any other appliances listed in their lease agreement. After receiving this type of written repair request, A Wyoming landlord must respond in a reasonable amount of time to indicate their plans to perform the repair or dispute the necessity of the request. If a Wyoming landlord fails to provide repairs to necessary amenity, though, their tenant may eventually be able to request a lease termination on the grounds that their unit is no longer livable.
Tenant Responsibilities. Wyoming’s landlord-tenant laws ascribe certain duties and responsibilities to tenants by default. This includes a duty to keep their unit in a “clean and safe condition” by removing rubbish in a clean and safe manner while also utilizing the electrical, plumbing, sanitary, and heating systems in a reasonable manner. Tenants are also responsible for maintaining their occupancy levels at the point indicated on their lease agreement.
Wyoming’s laws outlining these duties do not specifically outline how a landlord can enforce these responsibilities upon their tenants. As such, they are presumably able to treat an infraction of these responsibilities like a regular lease term violation. In that case, a Wyoming landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit that outlines the specific duties which are not being fulfilled. The notified tenant then must remedy their non-compliant behavior within 3 days’ time or face eviction.
As far as alternative actions against landlords go, though, Wyoming tenants do not have any significant options. This is because Wyoming’s landlord-tenant laws specifically prohibit withholding rent for any reason. Also, while Wyoming tenants are allowed to perform repairs on their own, they are not permitted to deduct the associated costs from a successive rent payment. Taking either of these forms of alternative action in Wyoming may result in lawful eviction.
Evictions in Wyoming
Wyoming landlords are allowed to legally evict a tenant for any number of reasons, particularly those outlined in an applicable lease agreement. This includes the following non-compliant reasons, which are among the most common:
- Nonpayment of rent – Wyoming’s statutory code does not establish a specific time at which rent is due for all tenants. As such, a Wyoming tenant may be compelled to pay rent on demand or at a time specified by their landlord (usually in an applicable lease agreement). If a Wyoming landlord does not receive a tenant’s full rent payment at that established time, then they may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. A Wyoming tenant may be able to remove this eviction order if they pay up during this 3 day notice period, but a Wyoming landlord is not required to oblige their tenant’s late payments in this manner.
- Violation of lease terms – A Wyoming landlord is given full discretion to enforce the legal terms of their lease as they see fit. When this kind of action becomes necessary, a Wyoming landlord may inform their tenant that they have documented a lease term violation by issuing a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This notice need not include terms for remedying the lease term violation, though this is customary among Wyoming landlords. In any case, a Wyoming tenant that fails to meet this notice’s terms for remedy or voluntary eviction will be forced to move out through formal eviction after the 3-day notice period concludes.
- Illegal Acts – If a Wyoming landlord has reason to believe that one of their tenants has participated in illegal activities, they may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit to that tenant immediately. That tenant must then move out within 3 days, often without any opportunity to remedy the at-issue behavior. Wyoming also does not specify what constitutes “illegal” in this context, so it is assumed that a Wyoming landlord has free discretion to determine illegality for the purposes of eviction on a case-by-case basis.
Evictions without a lease. Wyoming’s current landlord-tenant laws do not currently establish a standard amount of notice “at-will” tenants must receive before an eviction order against them must be honored. As such, a Wyoming landlord may require any of their tenants who rent without utilizing a lease agreement to move out without any notice or advance warning at all.
Illegal Evictions. In Wyoming, it is illegal for a landlord to seek an eviction against a tenant for retaliatory reasons. This includes evictions levied against tenants who report a perceived health or safety code violation to local or state regulatory authorities. Wyoming landlords are also prohibited from filing evictions on discriminatory grounds. To that end, a Wyoming landlord cannot base an eviction motion solely on a tenant’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
Security Deposits in Wyoming
All Wyoming landlords are required to abide by these following regulations regarding security deposits collected from tenants:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Wyoming does not currently require landlords to cap their security deposit rates based upon either a standard limit or a set maximum amount. As such, Wyoming landlords are fully allowed to charge as much as they want for a security deposit. This includes the ability to charge security deposits that are not tied in value to a tenant’s rent rate in any way.
- Interest and Maintenance – Landlords in Wyoming are not required to utilize any specific method for maintaining their tenant’s collected security deposits. As a result, a Wyoming landlord may freely maintain their tenant’s deposits in a standard bank account, an escrow, or another type of account that bears interest. Should an interest bearing option be chosen, a Wyoming landlord can also claim all accrued interest as their own due to a lack of statutory requirement for said interest to be dispersed to tenants.
- Time Limit for Return – Generally speaking, a Wyoming landlord must return their tenant’s remaining security deposit funds (along with an itemized deduction list) within 30 days of that tenant’s lease concluding. However, a Wyoming landlord only has 15 days to mail along these remaining deposits and deduction lists if their former tenant supplied them with a new mailing address. Also, if a Wyoming landlord determines that a tenant’s former dwelling incurred damages beyond regular wear and tear, they may be able to justify extending this return period to up to 60 days.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a Wyoming landlord fails to return a tenant’s security deposit in an appropriate period of time, they may become liable to pay the full value of the withheld deposit as a penalty.
- Allowable Deductions – Wyoming landlords are permitted to make security deposit deductions for any reasons outlined in the applicable lease agreement. However, most choose to do so to cover the cost of late rent payments or to offset the cost of a significant repair that exceeded regular wear and tear. A landlord in Wyoming is also allowed to deduct security deposit funds to cover the cost of post-move out cleaning.
Lease Termination in Wyoming
Notice Requirements. Wyoming is currently one of the only US states that does not require tenants to provide any amount of advance notice before they intend to terminate a lease, regardless of whether their lease is period or fixed in nature. However, tenants in Wyoming should still check their specific lease terms to learn if their landlord has established a notice requirement for their particular lease.
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. In almost all cases, a Wyoming tenant will find utilizing an early termination clause in their lease agreement to be the most effective and efficient manner of breaking off a lease early. However, because not all leases in Wyoming are required to include this kind of standardized lease breaking provision, a Wyoming tenant should be aware that they may also be able to terminate their lease before its natural conclusion using any of these following options:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – Though a Wyoming landlord’s obligations to provide tenants with a habitable dwelling are fairly minor, they still apply to all tenants who enter into a lease agreement. As such, a Wyoming landlord must provide all essential amenities required by the state while also providing timely repairs for the same. Failure to do so may cause a unit to become statutorily uninhabitable, which would then allow any tenants living in that unit to immediately request a justified early lease termination.
- Landlord Harassment – Even though Wyoming does not currently maintain a statewide entry standard for landlords, Wyoming landlords are still required to abide by any entry policies set forth in their applicable lease agreements. Landlords in Wyoming who fail to do so regularly may be accused of invading a tenant’s privacy, which is a type of harassment which may justify a tenant’s request for an early lease termination.
- Domestic Violence – A Wyoming tenant may vacate their unit without notice and request a lease termination if they can demonstrate that they are under “credible imminent threat of domestic abuse or sexual violence at the premises.” In order for this type of termination to be considered valid, the abuse or violence at issue must have occurred within a 60-day period. Also, this kind of request can only be granted if the tenant provides 7 days of advance notice to their landlord before vacating.
Wyoming does not require its landlord to take any certain type of action after a tenant terminates their lease early. As such, they are not obligated to re-rent their unit in a timely manner or delay any requirement for a tenant to continue paying rent until a sublessor can be found. The only way to pass on this obligation to pay is if a Wyoming tenant finds a sublessor to take over their lease on their own.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Wyoming
Rent control & increases. Wyoming’s current statutory code neither allows for nor prohibits localized rent control ordinances. As such, Wyoming landlords are currently allowed to set their own rent rates without needing to seek approval of any kind. However, this freedom may be changed in the future if a local jurisdiction seeks to implement a rent control or stabilization ordinance. However, even in that case, landlords would still be able to raise rent rates whenever they want due to a lack of state statute requiring advance notice for rent increases.
Rent related fees. Wyoming landlords are able to charge most any kind of fee they want to tenant. Because this state does not statutorily require all charged fees to be included in a lease agreement, this freedom may even extend to non-standard fees that a tenant did not agree to in advance.
Even so, tenants in Wyoming can only be charged a set amount for certain kinds of fees not regulated under the state’s landlord-tenant laws. Returned check fees are a prime example because the state’s financial regulation laws require that these fees not be valued at more than $30 per instance.
Read more about rent increases & related fees in Wyoming
Housing Discrimination in Wyoming
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Wyoming’s current fair housing laws only provide categorical protections to the same protected classes outlined in the federal Fair Housing Act. As such, enforcement of fair housing in Wyoming is fairly comparable to federal enforcement, including when it comes to reporting housing discrimination.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. Equal Justice Wyoming, which functions as a part of the state government, currently administers many of this state’s civil rights laws. This includes laws relating to fair housing. Moreover, this group dictates which business practices may be viewed as discriminatory under the state’s purview, including the following:
- Refusing to rent, sell, or negotiate for rental housing
- Falsely representing the availability of a unit
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges between tenants
- Providing different terms for certain financial services between equally-qualified candidates.
- Failing to provide reasonable accommodations
Equal Justice Wyoming does not appear to field housing discrimination complaints on their own. Instead, their resources direct tenants who feel that they have been discriminated against to seek help from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This Department allows for digital complaint filing and uses each complaint to initiate an investigation into the accused landlord’s business practices. HUD does not administer punishments to these landlords, however, and generally only uses its findings to back up a tenant’s efforts to seek damages in civil court.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Wyoming
Don’t forget to read up on these next few Wyoming landlord-tenant laws! That’s because they are each the regular subject of dispute between landlords and tenants in Wyoming:
Landlord Entry. Wyoming does not currently maintain any statewide standards dictating how much notice a landlord must provide before entering a tenant’s unit. As such, they are theoretically able to enter an occupied dwelling for any reason and without explicit permission in advance.
If a Wyoming tenant would like to establish an entry policy, they will need to establish one with their landlord. Any viable policy of this nature must be in writing and establish how much notice is needed for a justified entry, as well as what reasons may justify an entry in the first place.
Small Claims Court. Wyoming’s small claims court system accepts cases from both landlords and tenants valued at up to $6,000 in total. However, these small claims courts do not accept cases relating to or involving evictions. Instead, landlords and tenants may have those kinds of cases heard through one of the state’s several circuit courts.
Mandatory Disclosures. Wyoming landlords are only required to make two types of mandatory disclosures to their tenants. The first is a federally-mandated disclosure relating to the dangers of lead-based paint. This disclosure only needs to be provided to tenants living in buildings built before 1978. Meanwhile, all tenants in Wyoming must receive written notice before paying a security deposit if that deposit is considered “non-refundable.”
Changing the Locks. Wyoming is one of a very small number of US states that do not explicitly outlaw lockouts performed by landlords. As such, a Wyoming landlord may be able to justifiably lockout a tenant as a legitimate means of eviction. However, it is assumed that Wyoming tenants cannot undertake a similar type of unilateral lock change unless their lease or their landlord specifically allow for it.
Wyoming Landlord-Tenant Resources
There’s even more to know about Wyoming’s landlord-tenant laws! These following resources will help answer your remaining questions and provide you with access to information that will help streamline your current leasing relationship:
Rules and Forms Governing Small Claims Cases – This brief document includes all of the forms necessary to file a small claims case in Wyoming, as well as the relevant rules relating to the submission of those forms. Landlords and tenants alike can use this resource to prepare litigation when their mutual disputes are unable to be informally resolved.
Wyoming Housing Resources – This resource, which was compiled by the Yellowstone Country Assistance Network, includes links to resources that can help a tenant in need or facing a housing crisis. This includes everything from emergency housing to subsidizes housing, as well as housing counseling through a variety of third-party organizations.
Wyoming Safe Homes Act – This Wyoming law establishes a tenant’s right to vacate a rented unit when they are under threat of domestic abuse or sexual violence. Because this law is not situated among other landlord-tenant laws in Wyoming’s civil code, many landlords and tenants do not know about the important rights enshrined in this brief law.