Since the housing market bubble burst in 2008, American homeowners have lost more than 15 million houses to foreclosure, driving residents to the rental market. In fact, homeownership hit a 50-year low in 2016, according to Zillow, an online real estate database company.
While the national rental market started to cool last year, Wyoming continues to see growth in average rents as well as continued improvement in vacancy rates, which sits at less than 10 percent. Nearly a third of Wyoming residents are renters, and that group is growing at an unbelievable clip, with more than 2,600 renters hitting the market every day in the United States, based on data compiled by the Rental Protection Agency.
All of this suggests there’s never been a better time to be a landlord, especially in a state like Wyoming. But a costly, time-consuming tenant dispute can threaten the future of the most successful property owners. If you’re caught in a disagreement with an unhappy renter, get help from a professional civil litigation attorney.
What Is A Landlord’s Obligation?
In addition to providing a healthy, safe place for renters to live, Wyoming law states that property owners have to provide tenants with a rental agreement that includes clarification about how much of the security deposit is nonrefundable before it’s paid. What is refundable must be returned to the tenants within 30 days of the termination of the lease, or 15 days from the notice of forwarding address, whichever is longer.
With regard to rent, Wyoming doesn’t impose any restrictions on landlords who want to raise the rent. But most experts advise 30 days’ notice on any rent increases. However, federal law prohibits landlords from imposing retaliatory rent increases, based on race or religion, for example, or for filing a complaint against them.
While there aren’t any specific state statutes regarding late fees, landlords are generally only permitted to impose fees for late rental payments if it’s specifically addressed in the original lease agreement.
Finally, property owners can initiate eviction proceedings with three days’ notice if:
- The rent is three or more days late.
- The renter violates the lease agreement.
- The renter refuses to leave after the end of the lease.
- The tenant damages the rental unit.
- The tenant violates the implied covenant of “quiet enjoyment.”
- The renter denies the landlord access to the property.
- The tenant violates their obligations as spelled out by statue.
Wyoming does offer certain protections for victims of domestic violence that include:
- A landlord cannot break the lease of a domestic violence victim.
- Victims of domestic violence, however, retain the right to terminate the lease at any time.
- Domestic violence can be employed as an affirmative defense in an eviction lawsuit.
Discrimination Isn’t OK
The Federal Fair Housing Act prevents landlords from discriminating against potential renters based on:
- National origin.
- Disability, regardless of whether it’s physical or mental.
- Familial status.
That being said, property owners are allowed to deny rental applicants based on other factors, such as credit history, income, or criminal background, for example.
If you’re a property owner faced with the prospect of filing for eviction, don’t try to handle it on your own. A civil litigation lawyer in Cody can help. Call Burg Simpson Wyoming at 307-527-7891 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation Form now so we can go over the details of your situation with you.