No matter how tough your screening process, at some point in your career as a property owner, you’ll likely have to evict a tenant.
Common reasons for tenant evictions in Utah include:
• Non-payment of rent.
• Negligent property damage.
• Other breaches of the lease agreement, such as unauthorized subletting.
Utah, just like other states, has a statewide landlord-tenant law that landlords must abide by when evicting tenants. The following is a simple breakdown of the step-by-step Utah eviction process.
Evicting a Tenant in Utah: The Steps
Step 1: You must have a legal reason.
It goes without saying that you can't just evict a tenant for no legitimate reason. The reason must be sufficient enough to warrant an eviction, from a legal standpoint. Legal reasons to evict a tenant in Utah include:
• Excessive property damage
• Housing an unauthorized tenant
• Subletting the unit without following the proper process
• Failing to move out after the lease is finished
• Failing to abide by the community health and safety hazards
• Committing an act of domestic violence
• Engaging in criminal activity while at the rental premises
• Failing to pay rent
Once you have a legally justifiable reason, you can move to the next step.
Step 2: You must serve your tenant the proper eviction notice.
Different eviction notices serve different purposes depending on the violation. The notices are as follows:
3-Day Notice to Pay.
You may be able to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent. As per Utah statutes, rent becomes late a day after it’s due. If you provide a grace period, make sure to mention it in the lease agreement.
Once the rent becomes due and you want to evict the tenant, you must serve them with a 3-Day Notice to Pay. This will give your tenant a maximum of three days to either pay the outstanding rent or move out.
If the tenant pays within the 3 days, you must stop further eviction proceedings against them. But if they don’t, you can move to court for further help.
3-Day Notice to Comply.
You can evict a tenant if they fail to uphold the terms of the lease. Examples of lease violations that may be applicable include exceeding the occupancy limit, causing negligent damage, and having an unauthorized pet.
This notice simply gives the tenant 3 days to correct the violation. For example, to fix any negligent damage they may have caused. If they don’t do so within the 3 days, you may be able to use their security deposit to cover the repairs.
3-Day Notice to Quit.
If the tenant is conducting illegal activity in your rental, you must serve them this type of notice before proceeding with the eviction. In Utah, illegal activity is defined in three ways.
Firstly, it’s defined as setting up or carrying on an illegal business. Secondly, it’s defined as permitting/maintaining a “nuisance” in a rental property.
Third, it’s defined as committing a “criminal act” on the rental property. Unlike other notices, with this one, the tenant has no other option than to move out. If they don’t, you may proceed with the eviction process in court.
15-Day Notice to Quit.
This type of notice is intended for tenants whose leases are coming to an end. You need to send them a Notice to Quit 15 days before their lease ends, unless your lease specifies more time.
For ‘at-will’ tenants, you must provide a 5-Day Notice to Quit.
Step 3: You must file and serve a complaint against the tenant.
In Utah, landlords have two options when it comes to proceeding with the eviction process. The first option is to file a complaint with the court and then serve the tenant a copy of the summons and complaint. You must do so within 120 days after filing the complaint with the court.
The second option is to serve the summons and complaint against the tenant, then file the paperwork with the court afterwards. The filing fee in Utah is $75 if you're not seeking damages above $2,000. The court will serve the documents to your tenant for $35 (or you could have a friend serve them for free.)
Step 4: Your tenant will have the option to file a dispute.
If your tenant wants to contest the eviction, they'll file an answer with the court. Their answer must be written, and they must file it within 3 days after they've received the summons and complaint.
If a tenant chooses not to file an answer, the court will likely file a default judgment in your favor. However, if a tenant chooses to file one, then the court will schedule a hearing. In Utah, a tenant may object to their eviction by stating:
• You didn’t follow the correct eviction process.
• You failed to maintain the rental property to habitable standards. According to the Utah Fit Premises Act, you have a responsibility to keep the rental premises sanitary and habitable for your tenants.
• The eviction is based on discrimination. According to the Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal for landlords to discriminate against their tenants based on sex, religion, race, age, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc.
• The eviction is a retaliatory act. Utah law protects tenants from landlords who retaliate against them for exercising their rights.
Step 5: The court will give a judgment.
If the judgment is in your favor, either through a default judgment or at a hearing, the court will issue an Order of Restitution. The Order of Restitution demands the tenant to take their personal belongs and leave your residence, or be forcibly removed. This usually gives them 3 days or fewer to vacate.
Disclaimer: This blog is only intended to be informational. If you have specific questions or need expert help, kindly get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company in Utah.