Top 8 Landlord Legal Responsibilities in Wyoming

What every Wyoming landlord needs to know to avoid legal disputes with tenants. Read on to learn more.

Running a rental property business in Wyoming entails many legal responsibilities—from how you choose tenants to how and when you return security deposits. Ignorance of the law can cost landlords plenty—for example, if you need to hire an attorney to defend you against a tenant’s discrimination complaint.

Follow these tips to stay out of court and avoid legal problems with tenants in Wyoming.

1. Comply With Anti-Discrimination Laws

Before you advertise a vacant apartment, it is crucial that you understand fair housing laws and what you can say and do when selecting tenants. This includes how you advertise a rental, the questions you ask on a  rental application  or when interviewing potential tenants, and how you deal with tenants who rent from you. Failure to know and follow the law may result in costly  discrimination complaints and lawsuits.

While Wyoming landlords are legally free to reject applicants—based on a  bad credit history, negative references, from previous landlords, past behavior, such as consistently paying rent late, or other factors that make them a bad risk—this doesn’t mean that anything goes. You are not free to discriminate against prospective tenants based on their race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status (such as having children under age 18) or physical or mental disability. These are “protected categories” under the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S. Code § § 3601-3619 and 3631). There are a few exemptions to federal antidiscrimination rules, including owner-occupied buildings with four or fewer units, and single-family houses, as long as the owner owns no more than three rental houses at a time.

The HUD website provides extensive details on fair housing laws. Be sure to also check with your state fair housing agency for additional laws prohibiting discrimination or limiting landlord exemptions.

2. Follow State Rent Rules

All landlords want their tenants to pay rent on time and without hassle. If you need to raise the rent or evict a tenant who hasn’t paid rent, you’ll want to be sure you comply with the specific rules and procedures in Wyoming. For details, see  Wyoming Termination for Nonpayment of Rent and Other Rent Rules.

3. Meet State Security Deposit Limits and Return Rules

Security deposits  are among the biggest sources of dispute between landlords and tenants. To avoid problems, be sure you know Wyoming restrictions, such as when the deposit must be returned (depending on the situation, within 15-45 days after the tenant has moved out). Using a  landlord-tenant checklist  when a tenant moves in (and moves out of) a rental, and sending a written  security deposit itemization  when the tenant leaves will go a long way in avoiding disputes.

4. Provide Habitable Housing

You are legally required to keep rental premises livable in Wyoming, under a legal doctrine called the  “implied warranty of habitability.”  If you don’t take care of important repairs, such as a broken heater, tenants in Wyoming may pursue options such as  withholding rent.

Every Landlord’s Legal Guide, by Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner, and Janet Portman (Nolo) includes extensive advice on establishing a repair and maintenance system that will help prevent problems, such as tenant rent withholding or injuries to tenants due to defective conditions in the rental.

5. Prepare a Legal Written Lease or Rental Agreement

The rental agreement or lease that you and your tenant sign sets out the contractual basis of your relationship with the tenant, and is full of crucial business details, such as how long the tenant can occupy the rental and the amount of the rent. Taken together with federal, state, and local landlord-tenant laws, your lease or rental agreement sets out all the legal rules you and your tenant must follow.

Problems arise when landlords include illegal clauses in the lease, such as a waiver of landlord responsibility to keep premises habitable, or when landlords fail to make legally required disclosures (discussed in the next section). And even if it’s not required that you cover a particular issue in your lease, such as how when and how you can enter rental property, you can avoid all kinds of disputes by using an  effective and legal lease and rental agreement  that clearly informs tenants of their responsibilities and rights.

6. Make Legally Required Disclosures

Under Wyoming law, landlords must make certain  disclosures to tenants  (usually in the lease or rental agreement), including details on any nonrefundable fees. Landlords must comply with required  federal disclosures regarding lead-based paint on the property, or face hefty financial penalties.  

7. Follow Exact Procedures for Terminating a Tenancy or Evicting a Tenant

State laws specify when and how a landlord may terminate a tenancy. Failure to follow the legal rules may result in delays (sometimes extensive) in terminating a tenancy. Under Wyoming law, for example, a landlord must give a tenant who has violated the lease three days’ notice before terminating the tenancy. See  State Laws on Unconditional Quit Terminations  and  State Laws on Termination for Violation of Lease  for more information on termination notices in Wisconsin.

8. Take Advantage of Legal Resources Available to Landlords

In addition to the hundreds of articles on the Nolo, including  state-by-state charts of landlord-tenant law, Nolo publishes many  books for landlords, as well as  online leases and rental agreements.

Be sure to check out government agencies, such as the  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  and  state fair housing agencies  which provide useful legal information and publications on their websites. You’ll also find helpful  guides to tenant rights and landlord-tenant law  on the website of your state attorney general’s office or consumer protection agency.

Finally, if you have legal questions about your rental unit, you should consult with an experienced  landlord-tenant attorney in Wyoming.

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