What’s the deal with evictions in Wyoming?
George Carlin once said that a house is “a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” As far as I know, George Carlin wasn’t a landlord, but his words do speak to a particular phenomenon that we’ve all experienced, whether we’re landlords or not. Too much stuff, whether it’s your stuff or someone else’s, can make life complicated, if not downright unpleasant, whether it’s simple clutter, or big piles of junk. What do you do when it gets to be too much? As Carlin says, “Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.”
Recently, this was the experience of the owners and tenants of Holmes Trailer Park, in Cheyenne. Many of the park’s residents were prone to keeping their “stuff” out all over their property, much to the dismay of the city. After removing so much of their tenants’ things at their own expense, the owners realized they had to take matters into their own hands. They decided it was time to revamp the plot of land, not just for the benefit of the neighborhood, but to reestablish the value of the property. Tenants were given 48-days’ notice to vacate.
Although many of the tenants felt this was unfair, according to Wyoming law, it’s within the owners’ rights to evict them for this reason, and for a number of other reasons that may have applied — which we’ll get into in a moment. And, while the hope is that you never have to deal with any of the following situations, there may come a time in your career as a property manager or landlord that you will need to evict a tenant.
In which case, it’s important that you follow proceedings to the letter of the law. Read on to learn more about your responsibilities and rights as a landlord.
What are some reasons I can evict a tenant?
- Nonpayment of rent
- Any violation of the lease agreement
- The lease has expired, or it is a month-to-month agreement
- There has been significant damage to the property
Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant?
Tenants cannot be evicted if any of the above situations have not occurred.
Tenants cannot be evicted as a form of of retaliation. If you have failed to provide adequate living conditions to the tenant, and they have filed a complaint with you or the proper state offices, they cannot be evicted in response.
That said, evictions are considered retaliatory if a tenant has:
- Complained to the landlord about unsafe or illegal living conditions
- Complained to state or city health or building inspectors
- Joined or formed a tenants union
What is the process normally like?
Before we take a look at the legal proceedings for removing a tenant from a property, it’s important to remember that court cases cost valuable time and money. If possible, try to find a way to settle out of court. If that’s not an option, then the following is what you can expect from an eviction case.
Remember that so-called “self-help” evictions (i.e. shutting off electricity, or changing the locks on your tenants) are illegal. In order to legally evict a tenant, you must carefully follow Wyoming property laws, by filing and serving relevant notices to the tenants regarding their tenancy.
- You may issue a 3-day notice to quit. A 72-hour notice is required when the rent is 3 days late, if the tenant has broken any of the lease terms, or otherwise caused significant damage to the property.
- If the tenant has been paying rent, but their lease has expired, you may evict the tenant based on the expiration of the lease.
- If they are tenant-at-will, or on a month-to-month lease, they can be evicted at any time. In either case, you must give the tenant a 30-day notice to vacate.
- If the tenant has not vacated the premises based on the notice date, then the next step is taking the matter to court by way of a forcible entry or detainer suit.
- The summons will be delivered to the tenant, and should list a date and time for the hearing. If the tenant wishes to appeal they must file an answer before they appear in court. At the hearing, the Judge will hear from both parties before reaching a decision. It’s a good idea to be prepared with any necessary documents in order to present your case.
- If the court rules in favor of eviction, they may also award the owner or landlord reparations for unpaid rent, late fees, and other associated eviction costs. The judge will also issue a Writ of Restitution, which allows the sheriff to come and remove the tenants’ property, if necessary, and lock them out of the property. The document will give list the details in terms of date and time of the sheriff’s arrival, but this can be anywhere from 0-30 days from the time of the hearing.
- If the tenants left property behind, they must be notified that they have seven days to come pick it up, and where it is being held. The former tenants are also responsible for any costs associated with storage.
Where can I learn more?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to start the eviction process with a tenant in Wyoming, please consult a lawyer.
- Wyoming Legal Aid: Eviction FAQs
- Wyoming State Legislature: Evictions
- NOLO: Eviction Defenses in Wyoming
- NOLO: Eviction Procedures in Wyoming
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Disclaimer: The materials on this database provide general information related to the law and are intended to provide a layman’s summary of the law. The information provided does not constitute legal advice and the manager of this database is not a law firm. These materials are intended, but cannot be promised or guaranteed to be current, complete or up-to-date. All of the information offered are intended for general informational purposes only. You should not act or rely on any of the information contained on this database without first seeking the advice of a qualified attorney.