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.
- Does my landlord have to repair my rental unit?
- What if I caused the damage to the rental unit?
- Can I make the repairs myself and deduct that from my rent or withhold rent to force the landlord to make the repairs?
- How do I require my landlord to repair my rental unit?
- Can the landlord charge me for the repairs?
- Can I move out if the landlord will not make repairs and the rental unit not safe?
- Can I stay in my rental unit?
- Will I get my security deposit back?
- What if the repairs I need are not essential?
Wyoming law says that your landlord must maintain residential rental property “in a safe and sanitary condition fit for human habitation.” To be safe and fit to live in, essential services like heat, electricity, plumbing, and hot and cold running water need to be working, and the structure needs to be safe. The landlord has a duty to maintain these essential services.
However, you also have duties as a renter concerning the condition of the property. These duties include:
- keeping the rental unit in a clean and safe condition;
- disposing of all garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
- keeping all plumbing fixtures in a sanitary condition;
- using all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, and other facilities and appliances in a reasonable manner (you should inspect regularly and report problems immediately); and
- Any other duties required by your rental agreement or lease.
The law says that your landlord does not have to fix any problems caused by you, your family, or your guests that happened because of misuse of the rental property. Your landlord may require you to pay for repairs and any associated costs if you do not follow your duties. Your landlord can sue you in court if you do not pay for the damages that you caused or created or made worse because you did not follow your duties.
Can I make the repairs myself and deduct that from my rent or withhold rent to force the landlord to make the repairs?
No, you should never deduct or withhold rent from your landlord unless your landlord has given you permission. If you withhold rent without an agreement, your landlord may evict you. The law says that you must be current on your rent payments in order for you to force your landlord to repair a problem.
If you make any agreement with your landlord regarding repairs, for example if you and your landlord agree that you will make the repair yourself and deduct that repair from your rent, make sure you get that agreement in writing and keep your receipts.
However, your landlord cannot require you to make (or pay for) repairs for the essential services for which he or she is responsible, unless you caused the damage.
Wyoming law says you must follow certain steps to ask your landlord to repair your rental unit. If you do not follow these steps, you will not be able to prove in court that your landlord would not make the repairs you needed.
- First, write a letter to your landlord, listing the services and repairs you need, and asking they be repaired in a reasonable time. A reasonable time will depend on the urgency of the services or repairs.
- You should keep a copy of this letter, and you should send this letter via certified mail. You will find a sample letter here (forms provided by Legal Aid of Wyoming, Inc).
- At this point, you landlord is required to either repair the problem or inform you in a certified letter that he is disputing your claim.
- If you landlord does not respond or refuses to make the repairs you need within a reasonable time, send a second letter to your landlord. In the second letter, you must:
- Repeat your repair request;
- State the number of days since your first notice letter; and
- Tell your landlord that if he or she does not fix the problem within three (3) days, you will sue him or her in court to require the landlord to fix the problem or terminate the lease.
- You must keep a copy of this second letter, and you must send this letter via certified mail. You can find a sample letter here (forms provided by Legal Aid of Wyoming, Inc.).
If your landlord still does not respond or you disagree about the repair, you will need to file a lawsuit in Circuit Court to require your landlord to make the repairs or to terminate your lease. You will need to present the certified letters and certified mail receipts in court. Click on the "Court Info" button for more information about the Circuit Courts, including a directory. Click here for more informaton about filing a Small Claims action.
If the repairs and services are for safety or sanitary reasons so that the rental unit is fit to live in, your landlord cannot charge you, unless you did something that caused the damage.
You should not remain in a property that is not safe. However, if you wish to move out and end your lease, you must either get permission from your landlord to release you from the lease or follow the steps above to have the lease terminated by the court. If you walk out on your lease without following the proper steps, your landlord may sue you for the rent remaining on your lease.
If your landlord determines that the costs of repairs are not reasonable compared to the amount you pay for rent, he or she can refuse to fix the problem and terminate the lease. If he or she decides to terminate the lease for this reason, he or she must notify you in writing within a reasonable time after your repair request.
Your landlord must also provide you with at least ten (10) days, but no more than (20) days, from the date of his notice to find substitute housing. Also, if the lease is terminated, your landlord must refund rent already paid for the days you will not be living there, along with any deposit due.
If the court ends your lease agreement, or your landlord terminates your lease because it is not feasible to make repairs, your landlord will be required to return any deposit due within 30 days. Click here for more information on security deposits.
You should check your rental agreement to see what the agreement says. You can still ask your landlord to make reasonable repairs if it is not your duty or responsibility under the lease agreement. To do so, you should send your landlord a letter.
If you make any agreement with your landlord regarding repairs, for example if you and your landlord agree that you will make the repair yourself and deduct that repair from your rent, make sure you get that agreement in writing, and keep your receipts. Remember, in Wyoming you are not allowed to withhold rent in order to make repairs.