A Forcible Entry or Detainer Suit is the legal term for a landlord's complaint against a tenant. These vary from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
- Send a clear written notice
- Fill out the forms
- Serve the tenant
- Attend the trial
- Wait for judgment
Once a landlord wins the case, they can ask for a Writ of Restitution court order to order a tenant to move out of the property. A landlord cannot evict a tenant without one being issued to them.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Alternatively, a landlord can also ask for legal advice from an attorney for more information.
The first step all evictions must take is providing an eviction notice called a Notice to Quit. There are only some states which do not require a Notice to Quit, and even then, it depends on the reason for eviction.
1. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
A lease agreement can vary from tenant to tenant. It contains the responsibilities of each party during the entire duration of the tenant's stay.
A tenant may be evicted for violating the terms of the lease. Both tenant and landlord must uphold the lease agreement for the entire duration of the tenant's stay.
If a tenant violates any terms from the lease agreement, the landlord must give a written notice called a 3-Days Notice to Quit. This notice informs the tenant that they have three days to vacate the property, or else the landlord will start filing for a Forcible Entry or Detainer Suit.
A landlord may give the tenant a second chance and fix their violation if they want to.
However, it is legal for a landlord to prevent the tenant from correcting their violation. They are not obligated to provide a second chance before presenting a tenant's written Notice to Quit.
Lease violations in a Wyoming eviction encompass a lot of non-compliance violations. These include:
2. Nonpayment of rent
A landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. Rent in Wyoming is considered late 3 days past it is due.
Tenants may try to reason with the landlord if they have not been able to pay due rent yet and ask for an extension so they won't be evicted for nonpayment of rent, but the landlord has the final say.
If a tenant wants to avoid getting evicted, they have to pay rent that is due. Tenants who can pay rent in full before the eviction hearing cannot get evicted.
In this case, the eviction process is stopped.
3. Disturbing the peace
A landlord can evict a tenant for disturbing the peace of the neighborhood or the rental property.
4. Committing property damage
A landlord can file for eviction if a tenant deliberately damages the rental unit and/or rental property. This may also apply if there is an accident causing irreparable damage.
5. Committing health and safety violations
A landlord can evict a tenant for threatening the sanitation of the entire rental property.
6. Too many people are living in the rental unit
Most building codes specify the number of people who can reside in a rental unit in compliance with safety regulations. A landlord may evict a tenant for going beyond the recommended number.
7. Non-renewal of lease after the rental period ends
A Wyoming eviction process does not allow a landlord to evict a tenant without good cause. However, if the tenant becomes a "holdover" tenant, the eviction process may begin after the notice period of 3 days.
A holdover tenant is someone who overstays their lease term without applying for a renewal. Most tenants are on a month-to-month lease, meaning they pay rent on a month-to-month basis.
Tenants under a month-to-month lease have to ensure they renew their lease to avoid eviction. A landlord must provide a tenant with a written 30-Day Notice to Quit if they do not wish for the tenant's lease to be renewed.
But if neither the tenant nor the landlord renews the lease and it reaches the end of its term, only 3 days notice is required.
8. Refusing to cooperate with the landlord about repairing, inspecting, and showing the rental unit
Repairs, inspections, and shows of the unit are reasonable causes for a landlord to enter the rental unit of a tenant. Of course, they have to ask permission first, but if a tenant refuses to allow the landlord entry for petty reasons, then the landlord gives the tenant a written Notice to Quit.
Filing a Complaint
The next step to a state of Wyoming eviction process is filing a legal complaint in the correct circuit court. Successful evictions rely on the proper filing of a complaint.
A landlord must file a complaint after the notice period of 3-30 days has passed, depending on the reason for eviction.
1. How to file a complaint
- Proceed to the circuit court the rental property belongs to.
- Fill out the forms to file the complaint
- Pay the fees
It takes about 3-30 days after the eviction notice was given to the tenant before a complaint may be filed.
Serving the Tenant
The next step in an eviction process is serving the Summons and Complaint to the tenant. In most cases, the landlord cannot serve the documents by themselves.
Wyoming state allows individuals over the age of 18 who are uninvolved in the case or the local sheriff to serve the documents. They must be delivered to the tenant 3-12 days before the date of the eviction trial.
The date and time of the court trial must be found in the Summons.
1. How to serve documents to a tenant
The documents must be served through one of the following methods:
- Personal Service: The Summons and its supporting documents are given to the tenant in person at home or at work.
- Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable, a copy of the Summons may be left at the tenant’s home with someone who is at least 14 years old. Alternatively, they may be left at the tenant's place of work with a coworker.
2. After serving the Summons and Complaint
In the state of Wyoming, tenants do not need to file an answer with the court for a trial to be scheduled. However, if they wish to give the court an answer, then they may do so.
They must only show up on the actual date of the court trial.
Tenants may also file for a continuance in court that is no longer than 2 days, but if they want it to last longer, they will have to include a court-ordered bond payment.
The Summons and its corresponding documents have to be served to the tenant 3-12 days before the court trial date.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
To win and accomplish this step, landlords have to provide a strong argument backed by solid evidence against their tenants. Should the tenants fail to show up to the hearing, the landlords may win by default.
There is still a small chance that a judge rules in favor of the tenant, even if the tenant is unable to attend the eviction hearing.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and filed an answer
The court trial will continue and come to order, although filing an answer is not necessary for an eviction hearing to be held. Even if the tenant is unable to come to the hearing on time, it will continue without them.
On the date of the trial, the landlord has to support their claim with evidence and show it to the judge. This includes but is not limited by the following:
- Copy of the deed and the lease/rental agreement
- Rent receipts
- Rent ledgers
- Bank statements
- Witness statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations committed by the tenant
Either landlord or tenant can ask for a court hearing held before a jury, but doing so will add more time to the eviction process and possibly move the date of the court hearing.
An eviction hearing for a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit is scheduled depending on the availability of the court. It may take a few days to a few weeks from the date the landlord filed the suit for a date to be scheduled.
1. After the landlord wins the case
The court will issue a Writ of Restitution a few hours to a few days after the landlord wins the case. This court order informs the tenant that they have to get out of their housing on the property or else they will be forcibly evicted.
2. How to get a Writ of Restitution
The Writ of Restitution is not given automatically. The landlord must request the court judge for it to be issued.
3. Move out process
This final step in the eviction process is to move the tenant out of the property. Wyoming laws dictate a tenant has a maximum of 2 days to vacate the property.
Just because they have a maximum of 2 days does not mean that will be granted to them. A law enforcement officer could visit the property earlier once the Writ of Restitution has been issued.
If tenants fail to leave the property on time, then the law enforcement officer must forcibly evict them from the rental property.
Only the sheriff or the appropriate authorities are allowed to evict the tenant by force. Even if the landlord wins the case, they cannot engage in illegal methods of eviction.
The state of Wyoming does not give any information on what to do with a tenant’s belongings. If any belongings are left behind, landlords are advised to contact the tenant and give them a reasonable length of time to claim them.
After that time has passed, the tenant’s property can be sold or disposed of.
Tenants have a maximum of 2 days to vacate the rental property before they are forcefully removed. However, this is not a guarantee as a law enforcement officer can still visit the property earlier.
Wyoming Eviction Process Timeline
On average, it would take anywhere between 3 weeks to 4 weeks for a complete eviction process in Wyoming.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire, so it is important to maintain it in a very safe place.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also, show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it can be helpful to prove that the tenant was aware of the situation before arriving at the court. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, it is important to show the court how the tenant has violated the lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Can you kick someone out without an eviction notice in Wyoming?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
It is against Wyoming law to not provide a tenant with the appropriate written notice before proceeding with a Forcible Entry and Detainer suit.
The appropriate eviction notice period is 3 days unless it is about the non-renewal of the lease. Then, the appropriate notice is 30 days. Landlords are advised to use the correct forms when handing in an eviction notice.
In the state of Wyoming, tenants can sue their landlords, but the court holds jurisdiction over this part of the process.
Which eviction methods are considered illegal?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent them from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying their property
What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction?
According to Wyoming Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay on the property until further notice.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
What other information do I need?
A landlord should be aware of any information regarding the COVID-19 Eviction Policies because there have been some statewide changes.
It is also wise to check out laws on Security Deposits. One needs to learn how these deposits can protect the landlord.