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Eviction Basics


Legal Disclaimer: The following is basic legal information, provided as a public service by Wyoming’s lawyers. The information provided is not a substitute for speaking to an attorney.  Only an attorney can give you legal advice regarding your specific situation. Click here for help finding a lawyer.


Can my landlord evict me?

Maybe.  Your landlord can evict you if: 

  • You do not pay the rent when it is due (a landlord can start the eviction process 3 days after rent is due);
  • You break any of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement;
  • You damage the rented property;
  • Your lease comes to an end and you do not leave the rented property; or
  • Your lease is a month-to-month lease, and the landlord can evict you for no reason if you are given a full months notice. 
You should read your lease agreement carefully! Most lease agreements prohibit such actions as allowing other people to move in with you or keeping a pet without permission. You can be evicted for these or any other violation of your lease.  Click here for more information about lease agreements (provided by the University of Wyoming Students' Attorney Program).
 

Federal law prohibits your landlord from evicting you based on discrimination due to: 

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin, or
  • Sex

It may be hard to prove that your landlord is evicting you for one of the reasons listed above. You should talk to a lawyer if you think that you are being evicted based on retaliation or discrimination or some other improper reason. Click Herefor help finding a lawyer. 

How does my landlord evict me?

In Wyoming, eviction is a three-part process:

  • Receiving a 72-hour notice to quit, leave, and vacate;
  • Receiving a Forcible Entry and Detainer Summons (includes a court date); and
  • Receiving a Writ of Restitution (gives the Sheriff authority to remove you). 

To evict you, your landlord must first give you written notice, called a Notice to Quit. Usually, it’s a 3-day (72-hour) notice.  In Wyoming, the landlord can give you a Notice to Quit if you have not paid your rent by 3 days after it is due

This notice can be given to you in person, left at your home or office, or taped (posted) to your front door. If you do what the notice says by the deadline (for example, you move out or you pay your rent), your landlord cannot evict you. 

Your landlord cannot lock you out after the 3 day notice.  Your landlord must go to court in order to evict you. When your landlord goes to court, he or she will file a Complaint called a “Forcible Entry and Detainer” or “FED.”  If your landlord files to evict you, you will get a copy of this complaint, and a Summons to appear in court. These papers must be properly served on you, probably by the Sheriff's office or a process server.

The summons will give you a date and time for trial.  You will have 3 to 12 days before the day of trial set by the Court.  Eviction actions are held in Circuit Court.  The Summons will contain information about the Court.  You can also click on the "Court Info" button above for information about Circuit Courts and a directory. Keep in mind that court clerks cannot give you legal advice about your case.

What do I do after I get the Forcible Entry and Detainer?

Get help as soon as you get the papers.  You will have to respond and prepare for your court date. Click here for help finding a lawyer.  If you quality, you may be able to get assistance from Legal Aid of Wyoming's statewide legal aid hotline, 1-877-432-9955, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

How do I respond?

There are different ways to respond. It is very important that you ask a lawyer which is best for you.

You can try to settle the case with your landlord. It is very important to get any agreement between you and your landlord in writing. You should also have a witness sign it, if possible. 

For example, if you can pay only part of the rent, see if your landlord will take the rent and agree to let you stay. Make sure you get any agreement from your landlord in writing. Some landlords will say that you can stay if you pay part of the rent and then continue with the eviction action. They are allowed to do this under the law unless you get a written agreement that says you can stay in exchange for the partial rent you paid. 

If you go to court, you may, but are not required, to file an Answer. The Answer is a court document that can file with the Court before your hearing.  If you want to request a jury trial, you can do that in your Answer. Even if you do not file an Answer, you should still go to your court date.

Click here to go to Instructions and Answer form.

Is there a fee to file my Answer?

There is no fee to file your Answer. 

However, if you choose to request a jury trial, you will have to pay the jury fee unless you qualify for a fee waiver.  You can ask for a fee waiver form from the Clerk of Court.

What happens if I do not respond?

If you don’t file your response and do not appear at your court date:

  • You can lose the case and be evicted, and
  • The landlord can take your salary, money or property without warning. 

Will there be a jury trial?

Usually your case will be heard in front of a judge.  However, either you or your landlord can ask for a jury trial. This means a jury, not a judge, will make the decision. To ask for a jury trial, you should make your request in your Answer or ask the Court Clerk. 

How do I get ready for trial?

Get all the information related to your case. This may include witnesses or papers, such as:

  • receipts showing that you paid your rent on time;
  • copy of the lease or rental contract;
  • letters you wrote or received about the property;
  • photos;
  • building inspection reports. 

Bring 3 copies of all your papers (one for the judge--preferably the original, one for your landlord, and one for you). If a witness refuses to come to court, you can subpoena them. You can ask the Clerk of Court about issuing a subpoena, but you should do this as soon as possible because a subpoena must be issued at least 5 days before a trial date.

What if I need more time to respond or prepare my case?

You may ask the Court for a continuance (more time), which will reset the trial date.  However, you must have a good reason for the continuance and you must check back with the Court to see if the Judge has granted your request.  If you have already asked for a continuance or the Judge does not believe you have a good enough reason, the Judge may deny your request. 

If you think you will need more time, you should ask the Clerk of Court as soon as possible about information and forms for getting a continuance. You should find court information on your Summons, or click on the "Court Info" link above for court information, including a directory.

What defenses do I have in an eviction trial?

There are a number of defenses to an eviction action. The following are some common potential defenses: 

  • You do not owe the amount of money your landlord claims you owe;
  • You paid all the rent money within the required time;
  • You were not properly given the Notice to Quit;
  • You did not break your lease. For example, your landlord may be trying to evict you because he/she claims you had a loud party however, you were not at home on that date and no one was in your apartment;
  • Your landlord is not properly maintaining the apartment (but only if you follow the required steps to notify your landlord. Read about Requesting Repairs here)
  • Your landlord is illegally discriminating against you;
  • Your landlord is evicting you because you called the building code enforcement department (retaliation). 

You can review Wyoming law about Landlord Duties here, and Tenant Duties here (Provided by the University of Wyoming Students' Attorney Program). 

Defenses that don't work

There are some defenses that will not work. For example, if you could not pay your rent because you fell on hard times, that is usually not a defense.  If this is  your situation, it would be better to talk to your landlord and try to reach an agreement before your trial (see information about responding to an eviction notice above). Make sure you get any agreement in writing!

Many tenants think if there were problems with the condition of the rental property, like bad water or peeling paint, they can stop paying their rent and use this as a defense. In Wyoming, you should never withhold (stop paying) your rent! In fact, this defense only works if you have followed the required steps to ask your landlord to fix the bad conditions, which includes staying current on your rent. You can review the steps for Requesting Repairs here.  The Court usually asks you for a certified mailing to determine if you actually followed the required steps.  If you have not followed the steps, the bad condition of the property is not a defense. 

Some tenants think that it is a defense if their landlord came into their rental unit.  This defense also does not work because most lease agreements allow the landlord to enter at reasonable times.  If your landlord  is stalking you or doing other bad or illegal activities, you should report your landlord to the police or file a separate case, not wait until you are being evicted.

What happens if the landlord wins?

  1. The court will give the landlord a judgment, which gives the landlord back possession of the property. The judge may also order you to pay your landlord’s costs, like unpaid rent, late fees, and other costs included in your lease agreement. You should always read your lease agreement carefully!
  2. If there is damage to the apartment, these costs will not be included in an eviction case.  In Wyoming, the landlord will file a separate case to get damages from you. Click here for more information on small claims. 
  3. Once the landlord has the judgment, the landlord will ask for another court order called a  Writ of Restitution to let the Sheriff remove and lock you out of the property. The writ will determine how much time you have to remain at the property. You will probably have some time, although it could be anywhere from zero (0) to 30 days. You have a much better chance of getting additional time if you attend the trial!
  4. If you do not move by the writ date, the Sheriff will remove you and lock you out.  Only the Sheriff has the authority to physically remove you from your home. The landlord cannot do it on their own. After the Sheriff evicts you, the landlord can then take your property out of the house or apartment, and leave it outside. 

What happens if I live in a mobile home park?

There may be additional procedures and costs if you are evicted from a lot in a mobile home park.  If you have a mortgage on your mobile home, the mobile home park owner must also get permission from your financing company to lock you out of your mobile home.  However, if you are also behind on your mortgage payments, the financing company is likely to give the park owner the necessary permission.  If the financing company does not give permission, then the park owner can require the financing company to remove your mobile home from the park.  In any case, you may be liable for the additional fees of removing your mobile home from the mobile home park, which could cost as much as $5000, plus additional storage fees.

I vacated my rental unit and left property behind. Can my landlord take that?

If you vacate the rental unit and leave personal property behind, the landlord must follow certain procedures before he can consider your property abandoned.  These procedures include sending you a notice that the landlord has possession of your property and giving you time to respond and retrieve your property. If you do not respond, the landlord may keep or dispose of your property.  However, regardless of whether you pick-up the property or not, you may be liable to your landlord for the moving and storing of your property until the wait time has expired. 

Will other landlords know I was evicted?

Yes, if you stop paying rent and are evicted, it will be on your credit report.  Landlords will be able to see this when you try to rent again. 

What are my rights if my landlord is being foreclosed on?

Federal law protects tenants facing eviction from a landlord's foreclosure. Click here for information on tenant's rights when affected by a landlord's foreclosure (provided by Nolo.com). 

Is there anything I can do if I lose?

You may be able to appeal. The filing of an appeal will the delay the eviction until the appeal is decided. However, there are strict time limits for this, and you should seek immediate advice from a lawyer.  Click here for help finding a lawyer.  If you qualify, you may be able to get assistance from the statewide legal aid hotline, 1-877-432-9955, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.