The Utah eviction process mirrors most other state’s laws and regulations and allows an expedited process for a landlord to expel a tenant who fails to pay the rent or who breaches any other provision in the rental agreement.
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Utah does not allow for any non-judicial means to evict a tenant. A landlord who tries to expel a tenant by changing the locks, padlocking the doors and windows, threatening the tenant or removing the tenant’s personal belongings without a court order may be liable to the tenant for civil damages.
Utah 3-Day Eviction Notice
Most evictions are for nonpayment of rent. The Utah eviction notice for this circumstance is 3-days. The 3-day Notice to Vacate is also used where the tenant has violated a material lease provision such as having unauthorized persons or pets living on the premises, for running an unlawful business, committing a criminal act on the premises or creating a nuisance.
The notice must advise the tenant of the lease provision that has been violated or the amount of rent due and that the tenant may cure the violation by complying within the 3-days. If there is no compliance, the lease will be considered cancelled and the tenant must either vacate or face an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit.
Utah 5-Day Notice
The Utah eviction notice for holdovers, or those tenants who remain on the rental property past the lease’s expiration date, is 5-days.
Utah 15-Day Notice
For month-to-month tenancies, the notice period is 15-days. The landlord must advise the tenant that the lease will expire at the end of the current rental period and will not be renewed.
If the lease provides for a longer notice period, the lease notice period applies.
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Service of Notice
Any person who is 18 years of age or older may serve the tenant. If the tenant is unavailable, the notice may be left with a co-tenant who is of suitable age. If no one is present, the notice may be left in a conspicuous spot or posted on the unit door as well as served by registered or certified mail. Proof of service must be demonstrated if the eviction action ends up in court.
Summons and Complaint in Unlawful Detainer
Should the tenant remain delinquent in the rent or fails to cure the breach of the lease, if applicable, the landlord must continue with the Utah eviction process by filing and serving a Summons and Complaint in Unlawful Detainer. It must be filed in the District Court that has jurisdiction over the property.
Once filed, it will be served by the sheriff or constable. The tenant has only 3-days to file a written Answer or face a default. The tenant could ask the court to extend the time for answering for good cause. If an Answer is filed, the tenant needs to include any affirmative defenses and counterclaims against the landlord.
In a nonpayment of rent eviction, either of the parties can request a trial date at any time or the eviction trial date will be scheduled within 10-days. For other cases, the court automatically sets the trial date within 10-days of filing the complaint.
The eviction trial is held before a judge. The landlord must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the tenant has failed to pay the rent or has violated a particular provision of the lease. The landlord should produce copies of the notice and lease agreement, proof of service of the notice and Complaint, rental receipts, police reports, photographs, repair receipts and witness testimony. The tenant must prove any defenses asserted in the Answer and any counterclaims by producing photographs, documentary evidence and testimony from witnesses.
A Utah Tenant’s Defenses to Eviction
A tenant in the Utah eviction process may assert any of the following defenses:
- The breach of a lease provision is not substantial enough to warrant an eviction.
- The lease provision allegedly violated is unreasonable.
- The allegations are false.
- There was improper service.
- The notice was improper.
- The landlord waived eviction by accepting any part of the rent.
- The landlord failed to remedy a condition hazardous to the tenant’s safety or health or which is in violation of the housing code after having been an opportunity to repair it.
- The eviction is in retaliation for the tenant having filed a complaint regarding the condition of the property to the landlord or to a government agency or for joining a tenant’s rights organization.
- The eviction violates the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits evicting a tenant based upon the individual’s religion, race, sex, national origin, creed, age, family status, source of income or disability.
Writ of Restitution in Utah
Should the landlord be successful, he or she must request a Writ of Restitution from the court if the tenant refuses to vacate the property despite the judgment. The writ gives the tenant 3-days to leave from the date of service. If the tenant still refuses to leave, the sheriff will appear after the third day and may forcibly enter the apartment or property to remove the tenant and his or her belongings.
The tenant may request a hearing to contest the manner of enforcement of the writ but a bond must be posted to do so.
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