General Information Rental Agreements and Leases
Click here for sample lease agreement.
Before renting a unit, house, apartment, etc., the renter and landlord usually enter into an agreement, either written or oral, to set some basic parameters about the rental. At the most basic level these agreements:
- Create the tenant's right to live in the rental unit - this is called "tenancy";
- Sets the length of time (number of days) between the rent payments - for example a week (7 days) or a month (30 days) - this is called the "rental period";
- Establish which party pays the utilities.
Oral Rental Agreements
In an oral rental agreement, the renter and the landlord agree orally about renting the unit. This kind of rental agreement is legally binding on both the renter and the landlord even though it is not in writing. If you have a valid oral agreement and later have a disagreement with your landlord, you will have no written proof of the terms of your rental agreement. Therefore, most people engage in written rental agreements. It's noteworthy that it is especially valuable to have a written rental agreement if your tenancy involves special circumstances, such as any of the following:
- You plan to live in the unit for a long time (for example, nine months or a year);
- Your landlord has agreed to your having a pet or water-filled furniture (such as a waterbed);
- The landlord has agreed to pay any expenses (for example, utilities or garbage removal) or to provide any services (for example, a gardener or snow removal).
Written Rental Agreements (Leases)
In written rental agreements all the terms of the agreement between the renter and the landlord are specified, including the rental rate, the length of time between rent payments, as well as the landlord's and renter's obligations. Other common terms agreed to include clauses on pets, late fees, and the amount of notice for the renter to leave and landlord to change terms.
A lease also states the total number of months that the lease well be in effect (for example, six or twelve months). It is important to understand that, even though the lease requires the rent to be paid monthly, the renter is bound by the lease until it expires (for example, at the end of twelve months). This means that the renter must pay the rent and perform all of the obligations under the lease during the entire lease period.
There are some advantages to having a lease. For example, if you have a lease, the landlord cannot raise the rent while the lease is in effect, unless the lease expressly allows for the rent increase. Also, the landlord cannot evict you while the lease is in effect, except for reasons such as your damaging the property or failing to pay rent (see Wyoming State § 1-21-1001 through 1-21-1016 for specifics on eviction). A lease gives the tenant the security of a long-term agreement at a known cost.