The Utah eviction process varies from county to county, but they still follow the same general eviction process:
- Send a clear written eviction notice
- Fill out the forms
- Serve the documents
- Attend the trial
- Wait for judgment
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the lease/rental agreement signed by both parties.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant.
Landlords may also ask for legal advice from an attorney, but this may not be free of charge.
The first step of every evictions process is giving proper notice. All evictions wherein no notices were given may lead to a failed evictions attempt.
Notices vary depending on the violation committed by the tenant.
There are plenty of free forms online that have all the necessary information to be filled out for use. All that has to be done is filling out the appropriate information on the forms and giving the notice to the tenant.
Notices that contain the wrong information can be used against the landlord.
1. Nonpayment of Rent
Landlords can evict the tenant for failing to pay the rent in Utah state. Paying rent before being evicted usually stops the eviction process.
Rent is usually considered late a day past it is due. A grace period may be available if stated in the lease/rental agreement.
Before they can start the eviction process, landlords must give the tenant an official written 3-Day Notice to Pay.
If the tenant wants to avoid eviction, they have to pay rent. Should they fail to pay the rent due and remain in the property after three days, landlords may continue with the evictions process.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
A tenant can be evicted for violating the terms of the lease.
The rental agreement must be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of their stay.
If a tenant violates any terms of the lease, the landlord must issue a 3-Day Notice to Comply.
Violations may include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Subleasing the rental unit
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
If the tenant remains on the property by the end of the three days, then the landlord may continue with the eviction.
3. Conducting illegal activity
The law in Utah states that if a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, landlords must provide an official written eviction notice called a 3-Day Notice to Quit. There are three categories under this reason for the eviction: illegal activity, nuisances, and criminal activity
Examples of illegal activities are, but are not limited to:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Running an illegal business
- Committing a crime within the rental premises
Examples of nuisances are, but are not limited to:
- Possession and/or firing of an illegal firearm
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
Examples of criminal activity are, but are not limited to:
- Committing a felony
- Engaging in activity involving a criminal gang
- Damaging the property of other tenants and/or the landlord
- Threatening violence against other tenants and the landlord
4. Committing waste
According to Utah law, waste is defined as the harmful destruction of property. In this case, tenants are usually not allowed to renew their lease. The landlord must issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
They must leave the premises before the end of the notice period to avoid eviction.
Should the tenant remain on the rental property after three days, the landlord may proceed with the filing for eviction action.
5. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In Utah, landlords cannot evict a tenant or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as they don't violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
But if they stay in the property even a day after their lease ends and have not arranged for renewal, landlords must provide a written notice to move. The most common tenancy is month-to-month.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The eviction process in Utah provides the landlord with two choices when proceeding with eviction action. The process for each option is explained below:
Option #1: The Complaint is filed to the district court first, then served to the tenant
This option gives the landlord a timeframe of 4 months to serve the Summons and Complaint from the date they file the Complaint to the court
Option #2: The Summons and Complaint is served to the tenant first, then filed to the court
This option gives the landlord a timeframe of 10 days to file the Summons and Complaint to the court once they serve a copy of the documents to the tenant.
It takes about 3 to 15 days from the issuance of the Notice to Pay/Quit before a landlord can proceed with official eviction action should the landlord choose Option #1.
If the landlord chooses Option #2, then they have a ten-day time period to file the documents to the court.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
Utah law states that anyone over the age of 18 and is uninvolved with the case delivers the court order a.k.a. the Summons for the eviction hearing and the Complaint to the tenant. This is the next step in the Utah eviction process.
There are several methods available:
Personal Service: The Summons and Complaint is served to the tenant in person
Substituted Service: If the tenant is unavailable, a copy of the documents may be left to someone residing with them who is of a “suitable” age
Mailing: The server mails the documents, but must request a return receipt
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
A tenant must file a written answer in court should they wish to dispute the claims of the eviction hearing. They have to give this answer within 3 days from the date they received the Summons.
If they are unable to give a written answer before the deadline, they can request more time, but approval of this request is not guaranteed.
If they fail to provide a written answer, then the judicial officer will issue a judgment in favor of the landlord without the need for an eviction hearing.
A landlord who has chosen Option #1 will have about 4 months to serve the documents. The timeline for Option #2 is 3-15 days, depending on the notice period.
Tenants must provide a written answer if they want to dispute the claims and schedule an eviction hearing.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgement and get a Judgement for Possession
The landlord has to provide a strong argument and use solid evidence against the defendant. This could include, but is not limited to the following:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts
- Rent ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of notices, correspondence, etc.
Should the tenant fail to show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
Either party has 10 days to appeal the judgment, but if the eviction case was due to illegal activity and/or nuisances, they only have 3 days to file for an appeal.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In accordance with Utah law, a reply from the tenant is necessary for an occupancy/evidentiary hearing to be scheduled. An occupancy hearing decides if the tenant can remain on the rental property before proceeding to the next step.
An evidentiary hearing has to be held within 10 days after a written answer is filed. In some cases, the court may decide to rule in favor of the landlord, negating the need for a second hearing.
However, if the judicial officer decides that a second hearing is necessary, then it is scheduled within 2 months from the time the landlord first filed the Complaint to the court.
Eviction hearings are scheduled within 2 months since the landlord filed the Complaint to the court. Either party has 3-10 days to file for an appeal depending on the reason for eviction.
Getting Possession of the Property
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant does not appeal for reconsideration, an Order for Restitution is issued immediately after judgment is passed in favor of the landlord.
The Order for Restitution gives the tenant a maximum of 3 days to vacate the property from the date it is served.
2. Move out process
Before possession of the property is returned to the landlord, Utah eviction law dictates that the tenant has 3 days to move out from the rental unit. However, if the reason for eviction involved illegal activity, the tenant is removed from the property immediately.
Only the sheriff or the appropriate authorities are allowed to evict the tenant by force. Even if the landlord wins the case, they are not free to engage in illegal methods of eviction.
The state of Utah does not specify what to do with a tenant’s belongings. If any belongings are left behind, landlords are advised to contact the tenant and give them a reasonable timeframe to claim them. After the timeframe has passed, the tenant’s property may be sold or disposed of.
The Order for Restitution is issued immediately after judgment is passed in favor of the landlord.
Tenants have a maximum of 3 days to vacate the property before they are removed by force. However, if the reason for eviction involved illegal activity, they may be removed immediately upon issuance of the Order for Restitution.
Utah Eviction Process Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline does not include special cases such as requests for an appeal or continuance.
On average, it would take anywhere between 1 month to 4 months for a complete eviction process. This does not include the extra time it will take when either party files for an appeal, or continuance.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other software that make the documents easily and safely accessible.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also, show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it is still important to show that the tenant did actually violate the terms expressed in the agreement. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. The violation does not necessarily have to be specifically listed in the terms every time. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Can you kick someone out without an eviction notice in Utah?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
In Utah, tenants may sue their landlord, but the court will decide on penalties on a case-by-case basis.
Which eviction methods are considered illegal?
Self-help eviction is against Utah law. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
Retaliatory evictions are also not allowed. They are usually brought on by tenants reporting them for failing to repair any issues within the property.
What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction?
According to Utah Civil Code, you may be liable for the Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay on the property for some period of time.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
What other laws should I be aware of?
Landlords should be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of Utah. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. There may be eviction bans.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease/rental agreement or fail to pay rent.
To ensure higher chances of winning an eviction trial, landlords should also familiarize themselves with the Utah Landlord Tenant Laws for more information.