The Eviction Process in Utah
Evictions in Utah are governed by statute. In other words, a landlord is limited in his or her ability to evict a tenant. In such situations, a landlord is limited to the following:
- Negotiating with the tenant to effectuate an agreed move out; or
- Following the requirement of the eviction statute.
Landlords are not allowed to use self help in Utah.
The eviction statute gives the tenant many protections but does provide a remedy to the landlord should the tenant breach the lease. Here is is very brief outline of the eviction in process in Utah:
- Landlord must determine that the tenant has breached the lease in some way. The most common reason for eviction is failure to pay rent. However, the breach could be other issues, such as staying beyond the term of the lease or causing a nuisance on the property.
- Landlord must serve a three day notice on the tenant. In many cases, the law requires a landlord to give the tenant three days to fix the issue. For example, if the tenant is behind on rent, the law requires the landlord to give the tenant three days to pay the back rent. Eviction is allowed only if the tenant fails to pay the rent by the end of the three days.
- Landlord must file a lawsuit. If the tenant does not move out voluntarily and does not fix the breach, the landlord must file an eviction lawsuit. The lawsuit must be filed in District Court as small claims courts are not allowed to decide eviction cases.
- Once a lawsuit is filed, the case could take several paths. For example, the tenant may move out voluntarily, the tenant may not move out but may default or the tenant may file an answer denying any breach. Regardless, the end goal of an eviction lawsuit is obtaining a court order requiring the tenant to move.
- The Sheriff must then be hired to serve the eviction papers on the tenant. The tenant will then be given an extra three days to move out. If the tenant does not move out by then, the Sheriff is authorized to use force to evict the tenant.
- Obtaining a judgment. Some tenants are completely judgment proof and a judgment doesn’t help the landlord. Others can pay. In that case, the landlord ought to be given a judgment and the tenant required to pay, either voluntarily or through garnishments and other collection procedures.
Do I need an Attorney to Help me with the Eviction Process?
We are frequently asked this question. Many landlords can learn to effectively serve three day notices on tenants without the help of an attorney. However, care must be taken because if the three day notice is defective, the entire eviction process could fail.
If a lawsuit becomes necessary, it is wise to hire an attorney. Judges look carefully at the paperwork to make sure the eviction law has been followed carefully. Any errors are usually held against the landlord. Failing to hire an attorney often turns out to be penny wise and pound foolish.
How Much Will an Eviction Attorney Cost?
To evict a tenant, you ought to count on the following:
- $50 to serve the three day notice;
- $50 to serve the lawsuit;
- $185 filing fee; and
- $600 attorney fees.
This comes to a total of $885 out of your pocket to evict a tenant. While that is expensive, allowing a tenant to live in your unit rent free will ultimately cost more.