Resources for Wyoming Renters: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

Many of us sign our first lease without understanding exactly what we’re getting ourselves into. If you’re a current renter, future renter, or even a landlord, here are some resources about the rights and responsibilities of Wyoming tenants.

Table of Contents

Protect Yourself

The best way to deal with a conflict is to avoid it entirely, and the best way to avoid conflict with a landlord is to know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant in Wyoming.

Read your lease carefully before you sign it. Ask questions about anything you don’t understand and propose changes if necessary. Think about what you need and expect from a rental agreement, and make sure it is in writing. If your lease contradicts a right or responsibility listed anywhere else, the lease will almost always trump the “default” right.

Document what you communicate to your landlord as well as the status of repairs or complaints. Make sure to take photos before you move in. If it comes to a legal battle, documentation will make it much easier to prove your case. Written documentation is especially useful. Keep thorough records and review them before making a complaint.

Understand the legal process. Most conflicts between tenants and landlords do not go to court, but if your rights have been violated, you may want to contact the free legal consultation under “Rental Resources.” Most tenant-landlord legal conflicts go through small claims court, except evictions, which are handled in circuit court. If you go to court, the loser will often end up liable for the winner’s legal fees as well as the money in question.

Finally, do your research. This article provides an overview of several common tenant-landlord concerns in Wyoming, but it is not comprehensive, nor is it legal advice. There are many tenant rights and responsibilities not touched upon in this article. Follow the links for more in-depth information or check out the websites in the “Rental Resources” section for expert advice.

Tenant rights

Habitable living space

All tenants have a right to a habitable living space. Under national and Wyoming statute, tenants are entitled to electricity, heating, plumbing, hot and cold running water, and working smoke detectors. Landlords must provide carbon monoxide monitors if the house has fuel burning appliances, heaters, or an attached garage. This ipropertymanagement page provides more info about landlord-tenant rights in Wyoming.

A dirty blue wall with concrete flooring covered in black mold.
A mold infestation is by default the landlord’s responsibility.

If something malfunctions in a way that threatens the physical health or safety of the renter, including a mold or pest infestation, landlords are obligated to repair it. If kitchen appliances are provided at the start of the rental term, landlords are required to maintain them. Landlords cannot charge extra for these repairs.

However, there are exceptions. If a renter caused the safety hazard or broke something because they or one of their friends or family members used the property incorrectly, their landlord does not have to repair it. For example, if a tenant backs up their sink by repeatedly pouring oil down the drain, it is likely their responsibility to repair the blockage, even though plumbing is typically a landlord’s responsibility.

Many of us sign our first lease without understanding exactly what we’re getting ourselves into. If you’re a current renter, future renter, or even a landlord, here are some resources about the rights and responsibilities of Wyoming tenants.

Note that a landlord has no legal obligation to repair problems that do not threaten habitability, although a tenant’s lease may specify that the landlord is responsible for these repairs as well. If, for example, a renter’s washing machine breaks, that does not impact their rental’s habitability. Their landlord is only obligated to fix the washer if the lease mentions it.

Also note that landlords are allowed to rent properties that are not intended or expected to have such amenities. For example, a summer cabin can be rented even if it does not have indoor plumbing or heat.

In Wyoming, any of the rights outlined above can be waived in the lease. For example, if a tenant’s lease specifies that it is the renter’s responsibility to provide electricity, the landlord no longer has any legal obligation to do so. The lease overrides the rights listed here.

This Equal Justice Wyoming page has answers to common questions about the process of getting your landlord to make repairs. Note that landlords can terminate the lease rather than make necessary repairs if they determine that the repairs are unreasonably costly in comparison to their tenant’s rent. However, the landlord must inform the tenant in writing of this decision after the tenant has given them their repair request.

Freedom from discrimination

All tenants in the U.S. have a right to freedom from discrimination, which is based on several national laws enforced by the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity office.

Landlords are not allowed to treat renters who are part of a protected category differently because of their membership in that protected category. For example, a landlord is not allowed to indicate that they are unwilling to rent to someone who is male.

Note that this protects both someone’s actual status and their perceived status. If a landlord assumes that a potential renter has a disability and quotes them a different price than they would have given an able-bodied person, this is illegal even if the renter does not actually have a disability.

Outside of protected categories, landlords might be able to handle the situation differently. A landlord could legally discourage someone who did not own a car from renting from them, for example, since car ownership is not a protected category.

See this Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity page for more examples of housing discrimination.

A graphic of many different women. L-R, young white woman with tattoos, older white woman with glasses, elegant young woman with dark hair, older woman in a frumpy outfit, young mother with long black hair and her daughter with short brown hair, young black woman with locs in a bandana wearing white round glasses, white woman with long dirty blonde braids, white woman wearing pearls and curly red hair, young woman with brown skin and long wavy hair in a blue sari, young white woman with bobbed light brown hair, white woman with short brown hair in a wheelchair, young black woman with buzzed hair and glasses, woman in a traditional Japanese obi with long black hair and earrings, white woman with straight red hair, white woman with long blonde hair.
People of different races, abilities, religions, genders, sexualities, familial status, and national origin cannot be discriminated against in rental housing.

What does freedom from discrimination mean?  

It is illegal for owners to refuse to rent to members of a protected category or make rentals unavailable to them. They cannot discourage members of a protected category from renting from them, and they cannot offer different terms, options, or prices to members of protected categories.

Landlords are not allowed to indicate a preference against members of a protected category in advertising. They’re not allowed to assign someone to a specific section of the property or evict or harass them because of their membership in a protected category.

Finally, owners cannot delay maintenance or a tenant’s access to services that are provided in the rental. They are not allowed to ask if a tenant has a disability, or the nature or severity of any disability they might have.

Protected categories

Landlords are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of national origin, religion or lack thereof, color, race, or limited English proficiency. Familial status is also a protected category; those who have kids, are planning to have kids soon, or are pregnant cannot be discriminated against.

When renting housing is specifically designated for older people, there is an exception to the rule about familial status. In this case, landlords may be able to exclude younger people.

Landlords are not allowed to treat renters of different sexes differently. In 2020, a national law passed that widens this protection to people of different sexual orientations and gender identities. In addition, owners may not discriminate against people with HIV or AIDS.

Finally, disability is a protected category. Those with disabilities have additional protections as well. It is illegal to charge pet fees or refuse housing to someone with an assistance animal, which is explained further here. Landlords must also make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities to enjoy the property in the same way another tenant might, unless it fundamentally changes the landlord’s role. Examples and discussion of reasonable accommodations can be found on this Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity page.

Fines & Fees

Landlords must notify tenants about any nonrefundable fees associated with the property in the lease. They cannot tell tenants later on that certain fees were nonrefundable. By default, all fees except application fees charged at the beginning of a rental term are considered part of the security deposit unless they are specifically called nonrefundable.

A finger covered in grime held in front of a dusty windowsill.
Cleaning costs can be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit.

Note that unpaid rent, cleaning costs, other charges written in the lease, and damage outside normal wear and tear can be deducted from security deposits.

Landlords cannot increase rent during the lease term, unless the lease specifies otherwise. Landlords must give notice of increased rent.

When a tenant moves out, the landlord must give back a security deposit within 30 days if they have received the tenant’s forwarding address. If the landlord has not received the tenant’s forwarding address within 15 days, they have 15 more days to send the deposit, for a total of 45 days. This Equal Justice Wyoming page answers common questions about security deposits.

Landlords are not allowed to charge fees for normal wear and tear. In general, any damage that’s based on normal usage of the property and the items within it is considered “normal wear and tear.” For example, small scuff marks on the wall or paint that has faded due to the sun fall within normal wear and tear. Damage caused by intentional misuse or negligence will typically be deducted from a renter’s security deposit. Examples include rips in the wallpaper, broken appliances, or anything that has not been returned to the way it was at the time that the tenant moved in.

Ending a lease early

There are a few circumstances in which tenants are legally allowed to end a lease early. The best way for a tenant to get out of a lease is typically to have a conversation with their landlord about it and come to an agreement.

If a renter’s lease has a clause explaining situations in which they are allowed to leave early, tenants should read it carefully to make sure they meet the conditions. This is a simple way to get out of a lease.

If a tenant’s landlord is harassing them or repeatedly violating their privacy, or if their landlord changes their locks without informing them or giving them a new key, those can both be legal justification for leaving a lease agreement early. In addition, if their landlord is not performing vital repairs to keep their rental habitable, and the renter goes through a court process and wins, the renter has the option of leaving the lease.

Finally, if a tenant is active-duty military or a victim of domestic violence, there are additional pathways available to leave a lease early. Check out this ipropertymanagement page for other information about terminating a lease early in Wyoming.

Eviction process

Landlords must give tenants a written notice and cannot lock them out without following a legal procedure, even after delivering to tenants a notice to quit. If renters follow the instructions of the notice to quit before its deadline, their landlords cannot proceed with evicting them.

Landlords are also not allowed to physically evict renters themselves. They must call the sheriff. Owners must give tenants a chance to recover any abandoned property before they dispose of it or keep it, but they can charge fees for storage.

If an eviction process goes to court, evictions are always heard in the local circuit court.

These Equal Justice Wyoming articles answer common eviction questions.

Legal reasons for eviction

  • Nonpayment of rent or late rent payment – landlords can begin the eviction process three days after rent is due
  • Refusing to allow the landlord access to the property after notice has been given
  • Failure to move out when the lease term expired, or violating other terms of the lease
  • Health or safety issues (for example, the trash has not been thrown out and now the apartment has rats)
  • Damaging rental property
  • Disturbing peaceful enjoyment of other tenants
  • People not on the lease residing in the rental unit without permission from the landlord

If you are in subsidized housing, or your landlord’s property is foreclosed upon, you may have additional rights. Check out these links to learn more about the Violence Against Women Act and foreclosure rights.

Tenant responsibilities

Habitable Living Space

Renters have a responsibility to keep their living space habitable. If a tenant has broken something by using it inappropriately, its repair is by default their responsibility (although, again, it is important to check your lease, since the lease always supersedes this basic principle).

A close up on someone using a screwdriver to repair a door handle.
A problem which does not make a rental inhabitable is by default the tenant’s responsibility.

Tenants must remove garbage, keep fixtures clean, keep the property clean in general, and use facilities, utilities, and fixtures in a reasonable manner.

At the end of the rental agreement, tenants must clean up to the state the rental was in at the beginning of the agreement, outside of normal wear and tear.

Repairs that are not threats to habitability are by default the renter’s responsibility, although in many situations, the lease specifies that landlords are responsible for all or almost all repairs. 

In general, tenants must not violate safety codes, must not cause harm to other tenants or to themselves, and must not cause harm to the property.

Other responsibilities

Even if their landlord has not gotten to repairs, tenants must pay rent on time. Withholding rent will undermine a legal case in Wyoming, and landlords whose tenants have not paid rent are legally able to evict those renters or cause other legal trouble for them. Consult a lawyer before withholding rent.

Renters in Wyoming are not legally required to let landlords know in advance when they will be leaving their housing, even in a month-to-month rental agreement. However, it’s still best practice to give landlords notice, and may affect the reference landlords will give to future landlords conducting a reference check. Typically landlords expect at least a month’s notice before vacating a property.  

Know that in Wyoming, there are no laws against retaliation (except in cases related to status as a protected category, explained above). If a tenant sues a landlord, complains about repairs, or otherwise does something that their landlord disapproves of, the landlord is legally allowed to raise that tenant’s rent, evict them, or take other retaliatory action.

Tenants are not allowed to invite other people who are not on the lease to live at their rental without written permission from their landlord. Tenants cannot interfere with their roommates or neighbors’ “peaceful enjoyment of the property”—in other words, no disturbing the peace.

Finally, tenants must allow owners, agents, or managers to enter their property to make repairs, show the unit for rent or sale, or inspect the property if they are given reasonable notice.

An infographic summarizing landlord responsibilities.
An infographic summarizing tenant responsibilities.

Rental Resources

Legal Assistance

The following sites provide more in-depth explanations about legal issues facing Wyoming tenants.

Tenants that have specific legal inquiries beyond the scope of this article can check out Equal Justice Wyoming, which offers various types of legal assistance, including free answers about legal questions and a find a lawyer service that provides free legal services for qualifying low-income individuals. Their find a lawyer page also lists several other resources for individuals who do not qualify for free legal services.

Legal Aid of Wyoming provides direct support for housing issues. Interested parties can call (877) 432-9955 or apply online.

Wyoming Housing Network offers rental counseling as well as information about other housing concerns. Rental counseling includes education and tools for budgeting and finances, resources for finding rentals that fit your situation, and advice on how to handle disputes with a landlord. 

Check your local or county ordinances for additional information. Rental codes for the city of Laramie can be found here.

Tenants who suspect they have been discriminated against can file a report through the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) website. If filing a report, please contact FHEO as soon as possible, and include your name and address; the name and address of the alleged offender; the date of the alleged violation; the address or other identifying information about the housing; and a description of the alleged discrimination. To contact the regional FHEO office, email or call (800) 877-7353. To reach FHEO’s toll-free teletypewriter line, (303) 672-5248.

Other complaints, including deceptive contractors, conflict with landlords, or problems with manufactured housing can be filed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

If you have a health and safety concern about your rental, contact your local public health office, solid waste office, utility office, city building inspector, or fire department.

Financial Assistance

Wyoming offers several types of rental assistance through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  This includes help with utility bills, public housing, and housing choice vouchers. See this list for additional rental assistance options.

For those seeking quality affordable housing, contact the Cheyenne Housing Authority and Casper Housing Authority to learn about public housing options. See this page for more information about public housing.

Housing vouchers are administered by public housing agencies. Individuals find their own housing, and if their landlord agrees, part of the rent is paid to the landlord by the public housing agency. See this Housing and Urban Development page for more information about housing vouchers.

To share past or present rental experience with members of the Wyoming legislature, and to suggest improvements, renters can fill out the following survey. This survey was not created by or affiliated with UW Extension. Responses are requested by Jan. 15, 2024.