In Utah, a landlord must follow very specific rules and procedures when evicting a tenant. If the landlord does not follow these rules, the eviction (also called an unlawful detainer lawsuit) might not be valid. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant in Utah.
To evict a tenant, a landlord must have legal cause. Legal cause is defined by Utah law and includes the tenant's failure to pay rent or violation of the lease or rental agreement. If the landlord has legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord can then terminate the tenancy. The landlord does this by giving the tenant a three-day notice. This notice will inform the tenant that the tenant must either pay rent or fix the violation (whichever applies to the situation), or move out of the rental unit within three days of receiving the notice. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, then the landlord can terminate the tenancy and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-802).
The landlord can also evict the tenant for subletting the rental unit without permission, damaging the rental unit or surrounding property, maintaining an illegal business at the rental unit, creating a nuisance, or committing a criminal act at the rental unit. In any of these situations, the landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice to quit. With this notice, the tenant will not have an opportunity to correct the bad behavior. The tenant must move out of the rental unit within three days, or the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-802).
A landlord who wants to terminate a tenancy but does not have legal cause, will just have to wait until the tenancy has ended. In some cases, the landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice to move.
If the landlord wants to end a month-to-month tenancy, then the landlord must give the tenant a 15-day notice to move. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenancy will be ending in 15 days and that the tenant must move out of the rental unit by that time. If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit within that time, then the landlord can treat the tenant as a holdover tenant and proceed with an eviction (see Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-802(1)(b)). Utah Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.
If the landlord wants to terminate a tenancy of a tenant with a fixed-term lease but the landlord does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must simply wait until the lease term has ended before expecting the tenant to move. Unless the lease specifically requires it, the landlord is not required to give the tenant written notice to move.
Even if a landlord has a valid legal cause, a tenant could still choose to fight an eviction. The tenant may have a valid legal defense, such as the landlord discriminating against the tenant or the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit. By fighting the eviction, the costs of the eviction lawsuit could increase or the tenant could have more time to remain in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Utah has more information on this topic.
The only way a landlord can remove a tenant from a rental unit is by winning an eviction lawsuit in court. Even if the landlord wins the eviction lawsuit, the landlord still cannot personally evict the tenant. Only a law enforcement officer with a court order can remove the tenant from the rental unit. Utah law has made it illegal for the landlord to force the tenant to move. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Utah has more information on this topic.
If the tenant leaves personal property behind in the rental unit after being evicted, then the law enforcement officer who is enforcing the eviction can remove the personal property to a safe location for storage. The law enforcement officer will then contact the tenant and give the tenant 15 days to claim the property. However, before claiming the property, the tenant must pay for all the storage costs in full (see Utah Code Ann. § 78B-6-812).
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Utah law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.