Many shared issues they experienced as tenants of a local landlord.
Two area lawyers share advice on what to when faced with these situations, and how to prevent them in the first place.
“People will do things to just get in… against their better judgment but they feel like they're up against a wall,” said Mary Ann Budenske.
Some people said they just needed a place to go, some admitted skipping over fine details in their lease, even ignoring the lack of a lease copy."
“You really need to pay attention to the lease that you're signing and don’t necessarily settle for whatever it is that the landlord is proposing.”
Nachbar says if there are terms in there or things that aren’t addressed, there’s nothing wrong with speaking up about adding more.
“If you don’t take the time to read the lease at the front end you might be paying for that at the back end.”
Budenske suggests we take proactive steps to protect ourselves.
Having a copy of the lease is crucial.
“People should really stand by their guns and ask for a copy because that’s where they get in trouble. They go to court and say ‘well we were promised this and we were promised this’ and then your landlord pulls out the lease and this is what they say you agreed to… you don’t know what you agreed to.”
If the landlord refuses a copy…
“If they need to they can file a lawsuit and then seek that lease in discovery and he’d be required under the rules of discovery to produce the written contract or lease agreement between the parties.”
Both say we should always get everything in writing including saving text messages.
Agree to a written property inspection before moving in and after moving out, take pictures and videos for documentation too.
Wyoming statutes do provide some remedies for tenants when the landlord won’t repair heating systems, water supplies and toilets.
But getting uncooperative landlords to fix issues requires written notice, possibly taking them to court.
Upon moving out Budenske says it’s common not to get your deposit back but…
“The landlord after the termination of the lease has to provide an accounting of the security deposit and has to provide the tenant with information as to what was deducted from the security deposit and why it was deducted."
Nachbar says property managers must be licensed real estate agents in Wyoming, an important question to ask if you’re going into an agreement with someone who is not the actual property owner.
“That helps to prevent some of these situations where that person may not know the obligations of state law for safety and health and habitation and so they may say oh it doesn’t matter that the toilets work
I don’t care. Pay your rent anyway."
And don’t be afraid to go to court!
“If more people would stand up for themselves and try to fight these through I think landlords might start to realize they need to change their ways too.”
If you don’t know where to start, Budenske says there are forms available online, if you’re being sued as a tenant, fighting an eviction, or trying to get your deposit back, that could help guide you.
However, while Nachbar says those forms go part of the way in helping people, if you don’t know what the legal standards are, you might not know what to put on the forms, or what to bring to the courtroom.