May 5, 2008 rev. June 24, 2009
This handbook has been prepared to aid both renters and landlords to understand their responsibilities as well as rights. While the information is legally accurate, it is very general and does not cover all possible situations and problems. Click for Utah Legal Services contact information.
Please note: the term owner refers to the owner, manager, landlord or person responsible for renting the dwelling.
The two basic ways of finding a place to rent are the newspaper classified
ads and the yellow pages of the telephone book under "Apartments", or
"Real Estate Rental Service" or "Apartment Finding &
Rentals". If you need to find low-cost housing in
Low-income people can obtain information about government assisted housing or a list of available subsidized projects at the local Community Action Program and housing authorities. Phone numbers are listed in the back of this Handbook. You can also call 211 or 1-888-826-9790 for additional housing resources. Their website is www.informationalandreferral.org.
To apply for government assisted housing, contact a local housing authority or any private landlord who is receiving a subsidy for the apartment building directly from the government.
Rental applications fees may not be allowed in the locality where you want to rent. If you are asked to pay a fee just to apply for a place, you may call the local government to find out if there is an ordinance prohibiting fees in that area. You may also call local elected officials and get somebody interested in adopting such an ordinance. However, a State law now generally prohibits local governments from banning application fees so such fees are likely okay unless they are so excessive as to be unenforceable or are applied in a discriminatory fashion.
Discrimination occurs when you are denied housing because of your
For example, if you are denied an apartment because you are on subsidized housing, this is source of income discrimination; "adults only" complexes violate the familial status section; and charging more rent to a family because of their religion is also discrimination. However, there can be "seniors only" housing if some special rules are met.
It is not illegal to discriminate for reasons other than those listed above.
It is unlawful for any person to refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodations may be necessary to allow a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. For example, in a building with a "no pets" rule, that rule must be waived for a person with a visual impairment who uses a service dog.
A resident with a disability who wishes to modify a dwelling unit for increased accessibly/usability, must be allowed to do so, at his or her own expense, with the possible obligation to later return the modification to its original condition. For example, a tenant who needs grab bars in the bathroom must be allowed to install them, but the tenant will have to pay for the installation and may be required to remove the grab bars and return the bathroom to its original condition at the end of the tenancy.
Apartment buildings built after 1991 must meet specific design requirements so public and common use areas and facilities are accessible to people with disabilities and the interior of covered units must also meet certain accessibility requirements.
If you think you have been discriminated against because of your disability,
you have the right to file a charge of discrimination. The time within which
you have to take action may be as short as six months. You may file with the Utah
Antidiscrimination and Labor Division or with the
If you think you have been discriminated against because of your disability
or if you live in a new apartment building that is not accessible, please call
Before you give the landlord any money, ask for a written agreement. There are two kinds of rental agreements: oral (month-to-month) and written (month-to-month or long-term lease agreements). It may seem quick, easy and best to simply talk to your landlord, give some money and shake hands, but remember that things change and memories differ. A written, signed agreement puts your handshake in writing where you can refer to it and use it to protect your rights. When you rent, always get and keep a signed copy of the agreement.
Read the proposed agreement before you sign it!
Find out what it really says. If you do not understand it, ask the landlord to explain. If you understand the explanation, ask the landlord to write down what was said; then sign the explanation you understand, not the agreement you don't understand. If you do understand the agreement but don't like it, Don't Sign It. Tell the landlord what you don't like; negotiate to change what you don't like.
Free copies of a fair rental agreement are available by clicking here. You can propose to use this agreement instead of the one the landlord has. You can also use it to give you some ideas on what should be in a rental agreement.
Before you sign a lease or rental agreement, make sure it includes the following information:
Before you sign make sure your document does not include:
Whatever the agreement, always go through the apartment and write down a list of all the furnishings, the condition of the furnishings, walls, carpets, appliances, bathroom fixtures, etc., before you agree to rent. Have the landlord sign the list and make sure you both keep a copy of the signed document. Click here for a checklist. A lease usually states that you will be a tenant for a specific period of time and the rent is set for the period of the lease. A lease may be good for six months, a year, or a number of years. A lease can make you stay in a place longer than you want to. If you move before the lease is up, you will be responsible for paying the rent until the landlord re-rents the unit.
On the other hand, a lease can protect your right to stay in the apartment if the landlord wants you to move before the lease expires, unless you violate the lease. However, you do not have the right to stay after the lease ends UNLESS you reach a new agreement with the landlord. This may not be the case if you are on some types of government assisted housing. The lease may have specific provisions about this so read it carefully. If there is a clause that a notice is required before the tenant moves out even if it is at the end of the term, give it. Discuss a new lease or a continuation of the tenancy on a month-to-month basis with your landlord well before the current lease expires.
During the term of the lease, the landlord cannot force you to accept any changes other than ones already written into the lease. For example, some leases allow an increase in the rent during its term if the utilities or operating costs increase. If an agreement is reached for you to stay after the term of the lease expires, there may be changes in the contract. If a clause is not changed, then it is still enforceable when you hold over. A lease can be terminated by the landlord only for good cause during its term but it does not have to be renewed.
You may enter a month-to-month agreement when you move in or you can become a month-to-month tenant by staying after a lease ends with consent of the landlord without signing a new lease. These agreements can be made in writing or orally (always try to get the agreement in writing). However, the landlord must serve you with the proper eviction notice (see "Evictions" to learn about the different notices). Notices of changes in terms - like the rent amount - should be made at least fifteen days before the change takes effect, which can only be at the beginning of the next rental period. Tenant's notices of intent to vacate should be made at least fifteen days before the end of a rental period and the tenant must vacate at the end of the period. NOTE: The rental agreement may require a longer time for notices.
Month-to-month agreements do not guarantee the tenant can stay for any definite period of time. You can be evicted for cause or without cause.
Rental agreements between mobile home owners and parks to occupy a lot must be in writing and cannot be terminated without cause. Due to this special protection, even if the rental agreement is considered a "month-to-month" contract, mobile home owners essentially always get a lease. (See the "Mobile Homes" section in this handbook.)
Note: If there is no cause for eviction, lease contracts can only be terminated before they expire by mutual written agreement. That is, both the landlord and the tenant have to do it together in writing.
Always Get a Receipt for Your Deposit and Your Rent!
If you need help paying rent on a regular basis, you should apply for subsidized housing (see the "Government Assisted Housing" section in this handbook). To do so, contact the local housing authority. There is a listing at the end of this booklet. You may also contact the different landlords that have obtained federal subsidies for their apartment complexes. To locate them, call a local Community Action Program or dial 211. The local library may also have the information you need.
Seniors and disabled people can also apply for rental subsidies with the housing authorities or private landlords. There are buildings constructed specially for these two special groups.
DO NOT pay your rent in cash without getting a receipt signed by your landlord or representative. You can prepare a receipt yourself, then have the landlord or manager sign it.
If possible, DO NOT pay your rent by money order unless you deliver it personally and get a receipt. If a money order is lost in the mail, it takes a long time to trace. In the meantime, the landlord will want the rent that is legitimately due. This can result in your having to make two rent payments or being evicted for non-payment of rent. A money order stub or duplicate is not a receipt. It does not prove you paid your rent, just that you bought a money order.
Payment of rent by check gives you an automatic receipt when the landlord cashes it. Until cashed, you do not have any proof of payment. You can stop payment on a check if it gets lost in the mail. You can also write on the check which month the rent is for to avoid confusion later. For help in getting emergency funding to pay rent, contact your church, Community Action Program, or the Department of Workforce Services.
You have the right to a safe and sanitary home. In
When you rent a place to live, you are exchanging money for the right to privacy and to enjoy the place in peace and quiet. Your landlord or manager retains the right to enter the property at "reasonable times" to inspect it or make repairs, but you may require they notify you at least 24 hours in advance before doing so. You should tell them what you consider to be a "reasonable time." However, the only way to make sure you will be notified in advance is to have a clause to that effect in your lease.
When you pay money for rent or for deposits, you have the right to a written receipt. Always get one for cash and money order. A receipt should contain the date, the amount, how it was applied ("January rent plus late fee" or "paid in full"), and the signature of the person receiving the payment. If the signature is illegible, the name and title of the person should be legibly printed underneath. A receipt is often the only way to prove that payment has been made.
When you have a month-to-month agreement, you are entitled to at least fifteen days notice of any change in your rental agreement. If you have a lease for a specified period of time, there cannot be any changes other than the ones you agree with or that are permitted by the lease. If you stay with the landlord's consent without signing a new lease after your lease expires, all the terms of the expired lease that were not changed are still effective.
You have the right to expect that any repairs the landlord has agreed to make will be made within a reasonable amount of time. You have the right NOT TO SIGN a lease if you do not fully agree with its terms. Of course, if you do not sign, the landlord may refuse to enter into a rental agreement with you.
If you are the victim of domestic or dating violence, a sexual offense or burglary, or someone is stalking you, you have the right to require that your landlord change the locks. You may have to pay the cost and the landlord may require acceptable documentation such as a protective order or a police report. The landlord may not give a key to the perpetrator even if the perpetrator signed the rental agreement.
You have the right to remain in the place you rent until you are legally evicted by a court order or until your lease expires. Landlords do not have the right to lock you out or take your property. Only a sheriff or constable following a court order can evict you. The only exception to this rule occurs if you abandon the rental unit. See “Abandonment.”
Pay your full rent on time. However, under certain very limited circumstances, you have the right to withhold your rent.
Take "reasonable care" of the property you are renting. It is, after all, the landlord's property and you are paying for the use of it. When you move out of the property, it must be in the same condition as it was when you moved in, except for normal wear and tear.
Let your landlord know when you are going to be out of town or away from home for a period of time, and, if possible, how to contact you. If the landlord notices you are gone, but wasn't informed ahead of time and your rent is not current, the landlord may think you have abandoned the property. (See "Abandonment.")
Comply with local board of health rules for tenants.
Keep the place clean.
Inform the landlord, in writing, of any necessary repairs as soon as they are needed.
Be considerate of other renters and neighbors. They have the same rights as you. Keep the noise level in your home down so as not to disturb others.
Abide by all the terms of the lease or rental agreement. If it says "no pets", do not have pets.
Do not increase the number of occupants specified in the rental agreements without written permission of the owner.
Do not cause damage to the property.
If you have a month-to-month agreement and want to move out, give the landlord at least fifteen days written notice before the end of the rental period (which usually means at least 15 days before the end of the month) unless more time is indicated in the contract. If you have a lease and you need to move before it expires, you need the landlord's approval in writing or you may owe rent after you move out until the unit is rented.
You lose all of your rights as a renter if you are legally evicted or your lease expires and you have not moved or made arrangements to stay.
Remember, you can be evicted even if you are sick, unemployed, have children, it’s the middle of Winter, or have nowhere to move!
Select tenants in a nondiscriminatory way.
Adopt reasonable rules.
Decide whether the tenant stays after the lease expires, or for another month in a month-to-month tenancy.
Inspect the premises with reasonable notice or as agreed by contract.
Retake the apartment if abandoned.
Lawfully evict the tenant.
Deliver possession of the premises on the date the rental agreement starts.
Comply with the law and the health, building, and safety codes of the city or county in which the property is located.
Allow the tenant, in exchange for rent, to live on the property in peace, without unreasonably disturbing any tenant or allowing the tenants to disturb each other.
Give the tenant notice of changes in rental terms such as rent increases or any non-emergency entries. Fifteen days is proper notice in the case of a rent increase in a month to month contract. Twenty-four hours is proper notice for non-emergency entries.
Change the locks when the tenant provides acceptable documentation showing that the tenant has been the victim of domestic or dating violence, stalking, a sexual offense, or burglary. The perpetrator may not be given a copy of the key even if the perpetrator signed the lease. (The rental agreement will still apply to the perpetrator.)
Maintain the unit in safe and healthy condition and not allow illegal drugs to be made, sold, or stored there.
Live up to all the terms of the rental agreement.
Follow the legal eviction procedure.
Try to re-rent the unit if the tenant leaves before the lease has expired.
If you own your mobile home, different rules apply to leases. The rental agreement for the lot must be in writing and must contain the rules of the park that, if broken, may result in eviction. The rules may be changed and are enforceable 60 days after a copy has been given to the resident. If the park proposes an amendment to a rule, the residents must be given an opportunity to discuss the change during the first 30 days after the change is proposed. The rules have to be related to the health, safety, maintenance and upkeep of the park, or the appropriate behavior of the residents.
If there is an increase in rent, or changes in dates when payments of rent or services are due, they are not effective until 60 days after written notice is given to the resident.
In order to insure the safety and good appearance of the park, the park may require a certain kind of material to make additions or alterations of the exterior of the mobile homes. However, the park cannot require the resident purchase the material or equipment from a certain supplier.
When a mobile home park threatens to evict a mobile home owner for any reason such as failure to pay lot rent or violation of park rules, many safeguards apply to process that the park owner must use when notifying the mobile home owner. These rules are much more complicated than the usual landlord-tenant rules and the rules give the mobile home owner many additional rights since moving a mobile home is very expensive. If you own your mobile home and are threatened with eviction, seek competent legal help.
If you want to sell your trailer, the park cannot unreasonably prevent it. However, the park has the right, within reason, to disapprove a prospective buyer who wants to live at the park.
Mobile home owners must be given at least nine months notice before a mobile home park is closed or converted to another use. During this period, the lot rent cannot be increased.
The federal government helps people pay their rent and finances local housing authorities which own and rent some low-rent units. Eligibility will depend on income, but also on other factors.
There are programs where a housing authority owns the projects (public housing), programs where a housing authority pays the subsidy to a landlord on your behalf (the most common programs are Section 8 Certificates and Vouchers), and others where the subsidy comes directly from the government to the landlord (project based ). There are also programs for Seniors and disabled people operated by local housing authorities as well as private landlords.
Tenants pay a minimum rent of at least $25 per month. The government provides a subsidy (through the housing authority or directly to the landlord) to cover part or all of the balance.
For information about government assisted housing and listings of units, contact the local housing authority, the local Community Action Program or dial 211. The local library may have the information you need.
Public housing units are owned and operated by local housing authorities. Applications are submitted to the housing authorities. Applicants must be eligible as per federal guidelines. There are waiting lists and the housing authority may have its own policies to determine who will occupy an available unit.
The addresses and phones numbers for all Utah housing authorities are in the last pages of this handbook.
The two most common Section 8 programs are the "Certificate" and "Voucher" programs. Applications are submitted to the local housing authorities. Once you obtain your assistance and know what you will be able to rent, you choose where to live within the jurisdiction of the housing authority.
The housing authority must inspect and approve the unit before the lease term starts. Landlords in Utah cannot deny you a unit on the basis that you have government assistance.
The housing authority will tell you what the maximum rent for the unit can be and determine the part of the rent you will have to pay. If the utilities are not included in the rent, the housing authority will take that into consideration. The government assistance will be paid to your landlord, on your behalf, by the housing authority.
There are NO maximum rents. The housing authority will determine the amount of the government assistance they will pay to your landlord on your behalf. You are responsible for paying the difference, which is usually 30% of your household’s income but not more than 40%. Submit applications at the local housing authority's office.
The local housing authorities provide the government assistance to fix up privately owned buildings. The assistance is tied to the unit. The tenant must be eligible, but if the tenant is evicted or decides to move out, the assistance will remain with the unit for the next occupant. Apply through the manager.
The federal government also subsidizes landlords directly so they can rent units to eligible people and still be assured a profit. To apply for this program, once you have located a subsidized apartment building in the area where you want to rent, you may apply at the manager's office.
If you are disabled or over 60, you can apply at the local housing authority, or at the manager's office after you have located a government assisted apartment building. To locate these buildings, call the local housing authority, the local Community Action Program or dial 211. The local library may have the information you need.
A Federal law effective from May 20, 2009 until December 31, 2012, requires in most cases that the new owner of a foreclosed property give an existing tenant at least 90 days written notice before the tenant must move out. The tenant must still pay rent to the new owner during that time. The tenant may also enforce a lease made with the previous owner.
If any part of the deposit is not refundable, it must be indicated in writing. When you move out, your landlord must return the refundable deposit or explain in writing why not. You must give the landlord a forwarding address in writing when you move out and keep a copy. You may need it if you have to go to Small Claims Court.
Your landlord can keep part or all of your deposit IF . . .
If your landlord keeps a part or all of your deposit, the landlord must provide you with an itemized list of any deductions made. The landlord must send this list and any remaining deposit money to you within thirty days of your moving out or fifteen days after receiving a forwarding address, whichever is later. If the landlord alleges damage to the unit over and above reasonable wear and tear, the fifteen days becomes 30.
After you move out, if your landlord fails to refund the refundable portion of your deposit within 30 days or fails to provide you with an itemized list of deductions, you may sue the landlord or manager for the deposit plus a $100 penalty in Small Claims Court. You do not need an attorney to file in Small Claims Court. You can file by simply going to the nearest justice or district court. Addresses are in the telephone book under County or State.
The clerk of the court will help you fill out the necessary papers. If you cannot afford the filing fee, ask the clerk for an affidavit to allow you to file for free. Ask the clerk how to get the papers served on your landlord. If the landlord is not served with the papers, the trial will be postponed. The clerk will tell you the date of your trial. Try to go watch a case before that.
On the day of the trial, arrive at the courthouse early and check with the clerk to find out in which courtroom your trial will take place. The judge will announce your case and ask if everyone is ready. If you have any questions, ask them then. You will take an oath swearing to tell the truth. Tell your story the best you can and present your evidence and witnesses. After the landlord has taken an oath and told their side of the story, the judge will make a decision called a judgment which will indicate how much is owing to whom. Either person can appeal within 30 days and get a NEW trial. The clerk of the court can assist you in collecting your judgment by explaining execution and garnishment procedures. Ask for help.
THE FIVE STEPS
Eviction is a quick legal process by which a landlord can get you out of your rental unit. The eviction process, including any court proceedings, may take as little as one week. In cases of evictions from mobile home parks or subsidized housing, see the special sections in this handbook. Being left homeless is serious business, so it is important to know how the process works.
The first and most important thing you should know about eviction is: your landlord cannot lock you out of your home, move you out of your home, or take any property from your home before going through the five-part eviction process. If you think the eviction is retaliatory, call Utah Legal Services.
Another important thing you should know is that if you are evicted, the judge may order you to pay the landlord triple damages, meaning three times the daily rent (after the expiration of the eviction notice) and property damage.
The first part of the eviction process occurs when the owner gives you a written notice to leave the premises.
THERE ARE FIVE TYPES OF EVICTION NOTICES IN UTAH
TYPES OF NOTICES
1. Three-Day Alternative Notice for Non-Payment of Rent and/or Other Amounts Due
This is the notice the owner must use if you owe rent (and/or any other amount the landlord claims you owe) and they want you to pay or move out. It must say that you have a choice to either pay the amount owed OR move out within three days. The three days are three calendar days. Start counting the day after you are served and include weekends and holidays. NOTE: a different rule applies if you own your mobile home and are renting space in a mobile home park.
Q. What happens if you pay within the time allowed?
A. You can stay. If, within three days of receiving the notice, you offer the landlord the rent amount owed, they must accept it from you and the eviction process is stopped. If you offer the full amount owed within three days but the landlord refuses to accept it, try to pay again in front of a witness you can trust. If the landlord refuses, save the money. Do not spend it. You can take it to the court once the lawsuit is filed or give it to your attorney.
If you disagree that the amount the landlord is asking you to pay is what you actually owe, the safest procedure is to pay what is asked for and then sue the landlord for the difference in Small Claims Court.
Q. What happens if you DO NOT pay what the landlord wants?
A. If you DO NOT pay the money within three days, and you DO NOT move out, the landlord can go on to the second step of eviction, which is to file a lawsuit with the court.
Q. What if the landlord accepts a partial payment?
A. If the landlord accepts a small percentage of the total amount due, the landlord can probably still go ahead with the eviction. If you pay most of what is due within the 3 day period and the landlord takes it, a judge might say that the landlord has waived his right to evict you since the landlord does not have to accept a partial payment. If you make a partial payment, get a written receipt signed by the landlord stating that he will not continue with the eviction and stating how long you have to pay the rest.
2. Three-Day Notice to Vacate
This is the notice the landlord must use if you are frequently disturbing your neighbors, selling illegal drugs, violating building or health codes, damaging the property, or illegally subletting.
3. Three-day Notice to Comply or Quit
This is the notice the landlord must use if you have broken any part of the rental agreement other than causing a nuisance, subletting, damaging property, or being involved with drugs. This notice must give you a choice to EITHER comply with the provisions of your agreement within three days, including weekends and holidays, OR leave the premises within that time. If you DO NOT comply OR LEAVE, the landlord can proceed with the second step of the eviction process. (As you can see, this notice is worded differently than the one for non-payment of rent.) If you decide to comply with the notice, write a letter to the landlord saying you have complied and keep a copy of the letter for yourself.
4. Fifteen-Day "No Cause" Notice
This is the notice the landlord must use if, for no specific reason, the landlord simply wants you to move out. The landlord can only serve this notice if you are on a month-to-month agreement. The landlord cannot serve this notice if you have a lease that has not expired yet. Such a notice must be given to you at least fifteen days before the end of your rental period. However, if your contract indicates a 30-day notice is needed (when there is no other cause to evict), a 15-day notice would not be proper. If you do not move out by the end of the rental period, the landlord can continue with the second step of the eviction process. (You must also give a 15 or 30 day written notice to end your tenancy voluntarily. If you do not and then move out, the landlord could sue you for an additional month’s rent.)
5. Five Day Notice to "Tenant-at-Will"
This notice can be used if you do not have any agreement with the landlord to live in the unit as a regular tenant. For example, if you took over someone's apartment without the landlord’s agreement or if you stay after a lease expires, you did not make any arrangements to stay, and your rent payment was not accepted. This notice to a "tenant-at-will" must notify you to leave in five days. This notice may also be given to a tenant after a foreclosure, even if the “tenant” is the former owner. If a tenant is renting from an owner and the property is foreclosed, the new owner does not have to honor any prior rental agreements but may evict existing tenants with a tenant-at-will notice. (If a property is sold, however, the new owner must still honor prior agreements.)
Note: No Notice Is Needed at the End of a Lease!
Unless you have made arrangements to hold over after the lease expires, OR the lease requires a 30 day notice of termination even at the end of the term and you have not received such notice from the landlord, the lease terminates without notice. Read the lease carefully and, for good measure, talk to the landlord before the last month of the term starts so you both know where you stand.
There are four ways to give you an eviction notice:
1. Hand it to you or have someone hand it to you (it does not have to be a Sheriff, police officer, or constable); or
2. Send a copy by registered or certified mail to your home; or
3. Leave a copy with someone of suitable age at your home or business AND mail a copy to your address (leaving a notice with a child who is not old enough to be responsible is not allowed); or
4. Post a copy on your property (such a by taping it to the door) if you cannot be located and no one is at home.
Your lawyer or Utah Legal Services can tell you whether the notice you received, or the way it was served, is valid.
If you do not comply with the notice you receive, the second step of the eviction process occurs. The landlord files a complaint and a summons with the court and has someone serve these papers on you.
You must reply in writing within the time stated on the summons (usually three BUSINESS days counting as the first day the day after you are served). Attached to the summons will be the complaint which explains the landlord's side of the story. You or your attorney must file a paper with the court called an answer, or you will be evicted very quickly. If you don't file your answer with the court on time, the judge will issue a default judgment in favor of your landlord, ordering the sheriff to move you out. If you file your answer and disagree with the complaint, the case will be decided later. You will have a chance to submit documents or testify before the judge decides the case. Your answer MUST be delivered to the court by the deadline; DO NOT MAIL your answer.
If you are also served with another paper that indicates that your landlord has posted a plaintiff's possession bond, the eviction process has been speeded up. You could get this notice at the same time you get the summons and complaint or anytime afterward. (Possession bonds are not used everywhere in Utah. And since changes were adopted in 2007, few eviction cases now include possession bonds.)
You must do one of the following WITHIN THREE BUSINESS DAYS after receiving this notice:
NOTE: Please remember that if you fail to file the Answer or do not properly respond to the Notice of Possession Bond, you will be evicted.
EXPEDITED HEARINGS (other than Possession Bond hearings)
The law permits a landlord to ask for a hearing within 10 days if the landlord claims you didn’t pay the rent or other amounts due, or when the landlord claims that you or someone associated with you committed a criminal act on the premises.
If you file an Answer with the court on time and respond to the Notice of Possession Bond as explained in STEP 2 above, or the landlord alleges you didn’t pay the rent or you committed a criminal act on the premises, you will generally have a trial.
You and your landlord present witnesses and other evidence. These trials are like other non criminal cases. You have the right to a jury if you ask. However, the first hearing scheduled in eviction cases often deals only with the issue of possession (who has the right to possess the rental property). Often many such hearings are scheduled at the same time. In such cases, a judge will often only decide who has the right to be in the rental property, leaving all other issues to be decided later. If the judge believes you owe some rent, the judge will likely give you 3 days to leave the rented premises. The actual amount of rent due will not be decided until later.
The fourth step of the eviction process occurs when the judge makes a decision. This usually happens in court while you and the landlord are both there. Then the decision is put on paper and signed by the judge.
In most cases, if the landlord and tenant appear in court and the judge orders the tenant to vacate the premises by a certain time, no other proceedings will take place in the eviction action as long as the tenant moves out by the judge’s deadline. If the tenant does not move out, the landlord can get the judge to order immediate restitution of the premises meaning that as soon as the tenant is served with the order, the sheriff can forcibly evict the tenant even if the tenant’s possessions are still in the rental unit.
You will usually receive a copy of the judgment or order. If the landlord wins, the judge will order you to move out. If you don't move out, the judge will order the sheriff to move you. The judgment will order you to pay the landlord whatever money you owe in rent plus treble (triple) damages. You may also have to pay attorney's fees whether or not provided for in the rental agreement. Treble damages are figured by multiplying the daily rent by three for each day you have stayed in the apartment past the day your eviction notice expired. The judge will also order you to pay for any damage you have caused to the property and could triple that too.
If the judge decides in your favor, the judgment will order that you remain in your unit. The judge may also order the landlord to pay you some money. If you have a jury, they will decide these issues.
Remember, your landlord cannot legally lock you out of your unit or move you out of your unit until the landlord has a court order (Order of Restitution). Call the police or the sheriff if the landlord tries to take such actions without a court order.
You or your attorney can appeal a judgment within ten days after the judge signs it. You will have to pay a filing fee or sign an affidavit showing you can’t pay the fee. By itself, an appeal does not stop an eviction.
It you fail to respond to the Summons and Complaint, or to the Notice of Possession Bond or other notice of a hearing, the court may issue a default judgment. If you want to have a default judgment undone, you must file a Motion to Set Aside and a Request for Hearing. You must have a legal reason to do so. This paper asks the judge to reopen the case. You can request the forms for these papers at Utah Legal Services. You will most likely have to file a bond (pay money into court) in order to set aside the default.
If you lose in court at Steps 2 or 4, you will be served with an order to vacate and remove your property - Order of Restitution – usually within three calendar days from the day the judge signs the judgment. In some cases, a judge can shorten this time so that you might be evicted immediately, as soon as the sheriff or constable comes to your rental unit with the Order.
A form to request a hearing will be attached. This is not an opportunity to fight the eviction, just to dispute the terms of the order or the way it was enforced. Requesting this hearing will not stop the order to vacate. To stop the order to vacate, go to the end of this section.
If you do not stop this order, and you do not vacate and remove your property, the sheriff or constable can enter the premises to remove you. They will make a list of what possessions you have left and put those possessions in storage. You will have thirty days to request a hearing or reclaim your property by paying for the moving costs and storage fees. If somebody else owns any of the property that is in storage, that person has thirty days to prove that he or she owns it and ask the landlord in writing to return it, or request a hearing.
If you do not claim your property or request a hearing within thirty days, your property will be sold or possibly donated to charity. They will send you notice of the sale at your last known address. If you are present at the sale, you can say in what order your property should be sold. They can sell only what is necessary to cover the costs of removal, storage, and the sale, and should release the rest of your property to you.
If you are not present, your property will be sold to pay for costs and for what the court decided you owe the landlord. If any money is left, they will send it to you if they know where to find you.
If you want to stay in your unit and you lost in court, you will have to file a Motion to Set Aside Judgment (as explained at the bottom of Step 4) a Motion to Stay, AND a Request for Hearing. These papers ask the judge to stop the eviction and reopen the case.
NOTE: IF YOU FILE A MOTION TO STAY, YOU WILL HAVE TO DEPOSIT SOME MONEY WITH THE COURT.
You can request the forms for these papers at Utah Legal Services.
Owners of mobile homes can only be evicted from the park for good cause, such as:
In all cases except in cases of nonpayment, after the service of a notice to comply or vacate, the resident must continue paying rent to the park until the situation is corrected, but after the resident is served with court papers, the resident must pay the rent to the court while the proceeding continues. Except in cases involving nonpayment or dangerous activity, the park must give the mobile home owner an opportunity to discuss the problem(s) with the park’s management before the park can file an eviction action.
If the eviction is for nonpayment or for bad behavior, the landlord may choose to follow the regular eviction procedure explained under EVICTION - GENERAL PROCEDURE. For all the other causes for eviction, the landlord must serve a 20-day summons with the complaint.
To find out how to respond to court papers, turn to the EVICTION - GENERAL PROCEDURE section in this handbook. If the court decides against you, you will have at least 15 days to remove the mobile home from the park lot.
The laws governing evictions from subsidized housing are complicated and often changes. If you get an eviction notice, contact Utah Legal Services as soon as possible. We will assess the validity of the eviction and will set up an appointment to discuss your problem.
Make sure you pay your share of the rent on time and comply with your lease. Being evicted may result in termination of the government assistance.
The same quick court process is used here and the same court papers served as for tenants in non-assisted housing.
If you rent from a private landlord but part of your rent is paid by a housing authority, your rental assistance can be terminated by the housing authority. Reasons for termination include failure to report changes in household income, failure to recertify your eligibility once each year, some types of criminal activity that might not be grounds for eviction, owing money to the housing authority, or breaching “family obligations” listed in numerous Federal rules. If you receive a notice that your assistance will be terminated, you have the right to a fair hearing. If you lose your assistance, the housing authority will stop paying any of your rent and the landlord can then start the eviction process against you for nonpayment. Contact Utah Legal Services as soon as you receive a threat of termination from the housing authority.
If you are renting directly from a housing authority, you are in public housing. When you receive an eviction notice, you have the right to request an informal hearing, and, if they still want to evict you after this informal meeting, you can request a formal hearing. Request your hearings in writing and keep a copy of the paper. They can deny you the right of the hearings if you have been involved in drug activities or any criminal activities that threatened the health/safety or the peaceful enjoyment of other resident or the housing authority employees.
If you lose at the formal hearing, you will be served with court papers.
Your landlord can assume you have abandoned your home if:
Your landlord can enter the unit without a court order, remove your property, fix up the unit, and re-rent it to someone else. You are responsible for any rent which becomes due before the place is re-rented and any damages other than wear and tear.
If you abandon the property and leave behind personal belongings, your landlord can remove your things and store them, and you will be responsible for paying moving and storage costs. The landlord must make "reasonable" efforts to contact you and let you know where your possessions are being stored. If you do not try to recover your property within thirty days, the landlord may sell your property and apply the money toward any rent you owe or donate your possessions to charity.
Owners are required by law to keep housing safe and sanitary. You should call the local health department or building or housing inspector to have the unit inspected for serious problems that need repair. Tenants now have several options to choose from:
1. Withhold rent to force repairs. NOT RECOMMENDED. This can be RISKY and may result in your landlord starting eviction proceedings. Choose this method only when there are serious health and safety problems. For good measure, have the place inspected and get a copy of the report confirming the bad conditions. Withhold rent only after giving written notice to your landlord asking that the problems be repaired. If your landlord wants to evict you, the landlord must follow the eviction procedure which is outlined in this booklet. (See "Eviction") If you do not pay rent, you may receive a three-day pay or vacate notice. If you pay the rent during that time, you can stay. If you do not pay and hold out for repairs and the landlord sues you, you must file a written answer telling the court that you withheld rent because the premises are unsafe or unhealthy.
When you go to court, be sure to subpoena the inspector and the inspection report. The judge will decide if you had a good reason to withhold rent. If the judge rules against you, you will be evicted and will have a costly judgment entered against you. You decide if you want to take this risk.
2. Keep the rent current and then sue your landlord for reimbursement of rent paid - or part of it - because you could not fully use the premises or enjoy them for a period of time. You may also sue for damaged property such as furniture damaged by a leaky roof.
3. Give the landlord written notice of the problems, repair, and sue. Tell the landlord exactly what is wrong and that you expect it to be fixed promptly. If the landlord does not make the repairs, pay for the repairs yourself (materials, labor, or both), keep the rent current, and sue the landlord in small claims court for all the money you spent.
4. Use local ordinances to repair and deduct. This is the ONLY valid reason for a tenant to withhold rent. In many Utah cities, a fit premises ordinance gives the landlord from one to four days to make critical repairs after the tenant notifies him or her of the problem (check the ordinance for deadlines). Critical repairs include: inoperable toilet, no heat when it is necessary, broken or leaking water pipes posing an immediate threat to life, safety or health, no running water, or disconnected utilities. YOUR RENT MUST BE CURRENT. Give written notice to the landlord. If the landlord does not start within the specified time provided by the ordinance, the tenant can have the problem fixed (licensed repairmen are often required) and deduct up to the amount specified in the ordinance (usually $400 or sometimes $600) from the rent and give the landlord the original receipts (keep copies for yourself). For noncritical repairs, the tenant has to give the landlord two notices before repairing and deducting the cost from the rent. Some ordinances do not say whether the deduction can be made more than once.
If the tenant complies with the ordinance, the landlord cannot evict the tenant because he or she repairs and deducts the cost from the rent.
Call the city, county, or Utah Legal Services to find out the time the landlord has to start making repairs, how the notice(s) should be written, and the ways to serve it/them.
Utah Legal Services will consider representing tenants if there is an inspection report showing major unhealthy or unsafe conditions. Should the landlord try to evict you because you call the inspectors, call Utah Legal Services. Retaliatory evictions are against the law.
Mediation gives people a way to discuss their differences face to face and reach an agreement with the help of an unbiased person - a mediator.
Landlord/tenant mediation is voluntary. One party contacts a mediator or mediation program which, in turn, will contact the other party - or parties - to see if they agree to pursue this method.
A mediator is always present at the parties' meeting and is in charge of facilitating the communication between them. Mediation methods may vary: the mediator may allow the parties to discuss their problem and find a way to resolve it themselves, but when the issues are complicated or the parties' personalities or animosity get in the way, the mediator may meet with them separately and try to smooth out the differences.
If there is an agreement, it should be put in writing and signed by the parties. In landlord/tenant cases, such agreements may become binding if approved by a judge.
The Community Action Program administers a landlord/tenant mediation program in Salt Lake County. If you reside in Salt Lake County and are interested in resolving your rental dispute through mediation, call (801) 359-2444. Elsewhere, check with Utah Dispute Resolution at (801) 532-4841 or (877) 697-7175 (toll free), the court clerk or call the Utah Legal Services office near you for details.
Low cost housing in Utah is in short supply. It is possible that when you try to do the things suggested in this booklet, the landlord will not cooperate knowing that they can rent to someone else who will agree to take the place "as is. " It is possible that you have already rented a place without a written agreement of any kind, and you now have problems. If you attempt to enforce your rights, your landlord may simply give you a fifteen-day eviction notice.
One way renters can help change their position is to work for stronger laws to protect renters' rights at both the state and local levels. Renters can work with candidates for the legislature and for city and county offices to make them aware of renters' problems. Renters should keep their elected officials informed of their housing problems.
People should learn how and by whom local policies for housing are set. You must learn about the local housing body: the planners, the city council, the local housing authority, building and health departments, and the Mayor, all of whom make the major decisions that control housing. People can and should provide input into policies that will determine the future of housing in their communities.
It is important that you understand your role and the attorney's role in organizing and negotiating with your landlord. The primary role of the lawyer is to educate you on the law and to be available to back you up on legal matters if necessary (for instance, during negotiation sessions). A lawyer should take a low-key role, not a controlling one, during negotiations and in your organization.
Cooperative (co-op) ownership of housing means ownership and control by the people who live there. Instead of being owned by a landlord, co-op housing is owned and controlled collectively by tenants. They take on the responsibility of doing what the landlord should do: maintaining the building, bookkeeping, paying bills, deciding who lives there, and collecting rent. Co-ops allow each member a vote in how the co-op will run day-to-day and require high-level participation from each member to run well.
There are a number of services available for people without housing. Some of these are only available in certain parts of the state, others are statewide. To find out where help is available, call the phone numbers listed below, or refer to temporary housing and emergency shelters listed here.
Help is available, including assistance with the following: legal services, shelter, temporary housing, emergency food, federal food programs, medical and dental services, financial aid, showers and laundry, substance abuse and detoxification services, child care programs, child abuse protection programs, veterans' services, job services and training, adult education, clothing and identification cards. To get any of the above services, call the Resources below. FOR THE MOST UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION, CALL 211 or 1-888-826-9790.
Salt Lake City
2001 S. State Street
The Road Home 801-328-8996
210 S. Rio Grande St.
Workforce Services 435-752-7242
170 N. Main St., Logan
Family Support 435-734-4060
Human Services 435-734-4075
1050 S. 500 W., Brigham City
in Loa 435-836-2732
Human Services Price
Family Support Castle Dale
Family Services Moab
United Way Information
Ogden Rescue Mission
1925 Wall St.
148 N. 100 W
Food & Care Coalition
154 N. 200 W.
Div. of Family Services Vernal
Workforce Services Roosevelt
Child and Family Services
Cedar City 435-865-5600
TEMPORARY HOUSING & EMERGENCY SHELTERS
Salt Lake City
Catholic Community Services
2570 W. 1700 S. 84104
(provides temporary shelter for homeless women and children)
Crossroads Urban Center
347 South 400 East 84111
(food, referrals, info about section 8 housing vouchers)
Rescue Mission of Salt Lake
463 South 400 West 84101
(meals, showers, clothing for everyone, shelter for men only)
252 South 500 East 84102
(emergency welfare, evening meal)
The Road Home/Salt Lake Community Shelter and Resource Center
210 South Rio Grande 84101
Iron County Care and Share
140 East 400 South 84720
(gasoline, food and assistance to abused children)
Provo Center for Women and Children in Crisis
P. O. Box 1075 84603
(provides shelter for abused women and children)
Utah County Department of Substance Abuse
100 East Center, # 3300 84606
Food and Care Coalition
164 North 200 West 84603
(meals, laundry facilities, clothing, food and referral to shelters)
Ogden Rescue Mission
2781 Wall Avenue
P. O. Box 625 84401
Ogden Salvation Army
2615 Grant Avenue 84401
Your Community Connection
2261 Adams Avenue 84401
St. Anne's Center
137 West Binford 84401
Mountainlands Community Action Program
257 E. Center,
Ogden Area Community Action Agency
3159 Grant Avenue 84401
Salt Lake Community Action
764 S. 200 W., SLC 84101
Dixie Care and Share
131 N. 300 W., St. George 84770
HELP IN REPAIRING, REHABILITATING OR MAINTAINING HOUSING
218 East 500 South, SLC 84111
Neighborhood Housing Services
(serves 600 North to North
, and 500 West to 1500 West) Temple
622 W. 500 N., SLC 84116
West Valley City Housing Authority
3600 South 2700 West 84119
(Low interest and 0 interest loans for Rehab to homes, including mobile homes. Grant for
Redevelopment Agencies offer low-interest and/or deferred payment loans to rehabilitate housing
for low-income households. Contact the Redevelopment Agency nearest you:
Davis County 801-451-2587
352 S. 200 W. #1
Lindon City 435-785-5043
100 N. State
Logan City 435-750-9800
255 N. Main
Mount Pleasant 435-462-2456
115 W. Main
55 N. University Ave.
432 W. 600 S.
255 S. State Street
5015 S. 1900 W.
Salt Lake City 801-535-7240
451 S. State Street
INFORMATION ABOUT SUBSIDIZED HOUSING
Salt Lake Community Action
764 South 200 West, SLC 84101
1268 West 500 North, SLC 84116
LOW INCOME HOUSING
Housing Outreach Rental Program (HORP)
764 South 200 West, SLC 84101
Provide rent subsidies
Beaver City Housing Authority
Beaver Valley Hospital
Box 1670, 85 North 400 East 84713
Bear River Association of Government Housing Authority
Main, 84321 Logan
Cedar City Housing Authority
239 West Highway 56 84720
Davis County Housing Authority
Box 328, 352 South 200 West, #1
Emery County Housing Authority
P. O. Box 551, 95 East Main
Castle Dale 84513
Escalante Valley Housing Authority
c/o R. Bryner Wood, Sec.
Grand County Housing Authority
P. O. Box 729,
302 East Center, Moab 84532
Millard County Housing Authority
P. O. Box 854
71 S. 200 W., Delta 84624
Ogden City Housing Authority
127 24th Street, #2 84401
Provo City Housing Authority
650 West 100 North 84601
St. George City Housing Authority
975 North 1725 West, #101 84770
Salt Lake City Housing Authority
1776 South West Temple 84115
Salt Lake County Housing Authority
3595 South Main, SLC 84115
Tooele County Housing Authority
47 South Main
Tooele, UT 84074
Myton City Housing Authority
dba Housing Authority of Uintah Basin
58 E. 100 N. Roosevelt 84066
992 W. Main Vernal 84078
Ute Indian Housing Authority
Box 250, Ft. Duchesne 84026
Utah County Housing Authority
240 East Center, Provo 84606
Utah Paiute Housing Authority
665 N. 100 E., Cedar City 84720
Weber County Housing Authority
2380 Washington Blvd. , #230 84119 Ogden
West Valley City Housing Authority
3600 S. Constitution Blvd. 84119
Utah Office of Energy Services
324 S. State Str., #500, SLC 84111
toll free 1-800-662-3633
Provides free weatherization for low-income families.
TO REPORT BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS
105 East Center
Brigham City 435-734-2031
1 South Main
Cache County 435-752-8328
179 North Main, #19, Logan
Cedar City 435-586-2957
110 North Main
140 East Center
140 East 100 South
437 North Wasatch Dr.
179 North Main, #19
Ogden 801- 629-8950
2484 Washington Blvd. , #230
351 West Center, 2nd Floor
5051 South 1900 West
Salt Lake City 801-535-6436
451 South State, Room 406
St. George 435-674-4223
175 East 200 North
TO REPORT HEALTH CODE VIOLATIONS
325 East Center
Brigham City 435-734-0845
817 West 950 South
Cedar City 435-586-2437
88 East Fiddlers Canyon Road
Davis County 801-451-3296
P.O. Box 618
28 E. State Str., #24,
245 South 200 East
655 East 1300 North
Morgan and Weber
2570 Grant Ave., Ogden
601 N. Main
Salt Lake Valley 801-313-6641
788 E. Wood Oak Lane(5380 S.)
St. George 435-673-3528
285 West Tabernacle
125 South 100 West
TO REPORT DISCRIMINATION
Disability Law Center
Community Legal Center
205 North 400 West
Salt Lake City 84103-1125
toll free 800-662-9080
toll free 800-550-4182 TTY
Utah Antidiscrimination & Labor Division
Utah Labor Commission
160 East 300 South, 3rd Floor
P. O. Box 146630
Salt Lake City 84114-6630
Utah Salt Lake City Field Office
U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
125 S. State Str., #3001 84138
Salt Lake City 84138
For assistance call:
valley 801-328-8891 Salt Lake
valley toll free 800-662-4245 Salt Lake
Monday - Friday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
(Morgan, Rich, Weber, Cache, Box Elder, north Davis counties)
893 24th Street, Suite 300, Ogden, UT 84401
SALT LAKE CITY
(Salt Lake, Tooele, Summit, south Davis counties)
205 North 400 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
(Carbon, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Grand, Millard, San Juan, Sanpete, Utah, Juab, Wasatch,
Uintah, Piute, Sevier, Wayne counties)
455 North University,
Suite100, Provo, UT 84601
(Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Washington counties)
965 South Main, Suite 3, Cedar City, UT 84720
229 E St. George Blvd., Suite 103
St. George, UT 84770