Duty of Quiet Enjoyment
Under the common law, the relationship of landlord and tenant raises an implied promise by the landlord that he will protect the tenant from any disturbances that are caused or approved by him and that interfere with the tenant's quiet enjoyment of the apartment. The tenant cannot treat every disturbance to his quiet enjoyment as a violation of the landlord's promise. The disturbances have to be substantial, making living conditions in the unit unbearable.
Landlord's Statutory Duties
Under the law that took effect in Wyoming on July 1, 1999, a landlord has certain statutory duties to the tenant. The provisions of this law that set forth these duties are as follows:
W. S. 1-21-1202. Duties of owners.
(a) Each owner and his agent renting or leasing a residential rental unit shall maintain that unit in a safe and sanitary condition fit for human habitation. Each residential rental unit shall have operational electrical, heating and plumbing, with hot and cold running water unless otherwise agreed upon in writing by both parties. Provided, however, this section shall not prevent the rental of seasonal rental units such as summer cabins which are not intended to have such amenities.
(b) This article does not apply to breakage, malfunctions or other conditions which do not materially affect the physical health or safety of the ordinary renter.
(c) Any duty or obligation in this article may be assigned to a different party or modified by explicit written agreement signed by the parties.
W.S. 1-21-1203. Owner's duties.
(a) To protect the physical health and safety of the renter, each owner shall:
(i) Not rent the residential rental unit unless it is reasonably safe, sanitary and fit for human occupancy;
(ii) Maintain common areas of the residential rental unit in a sanitary and reasonably safe condition;
(iii) Maintain electrical systems, plumbing, heating and hot and cold water; and
(iv) Maintain other appliances and facilities as specifically contracted in the rental agreement.
WARNING: The above provisions of Wyoming state law may be modified by the agreement of the landlord and the tenant (normally indicated by their signatures on a lease with different terms than the above).
Liability of the Landlord for Injuries Suffered on the Premises
On March 18, 2004, the Wyoming Supreme Court decided a case called Merrill v. Jansma. Ms. Merrill had been injured when she fell on the steps leading to the porch of a mobile home that her daughter had rented from Ms. Jansma. Ms. Merrill sued Ms. Jansma as the owner of the property and alleged that as landlord, Ms. Jansma knew or should have known that the steps were dangerous and that she had failed to exercise reasonable care to alleviate the danger. The trial court found in favor of the landlord and held that Ms. Jansma owed no legal duty to Ms. Merrill under either the Wyoming Residential Rental Property Act or the common law. The Wyoming Supreme Court reversed and held that the old common law rule of landlord immunity for injuries suffered on rental property and the exceptions that had developed under the common law rule were swept away and that a new rule of law was imposed on landlords. The new rule of law, as declared by the Wyoming Supreme Court, imposed a duty on owners of rental property to maintain them in a safe, sanitary, and habitable condition. This rule gives rise to a new standard of care applicable in cases involving personal injuries occurring on rental property, i.e. reasonable care under the circumstances. If an injured person can establish that a breach of this standard proximately caused his or her injury, then the person is entitled to prove any and all damages recoverable in a personal injury claim.