Evicting a tenant in Utah requires landlords to first take action by serving a tenant notice of their breach. The most common causes for eviction include nonpayment of rent or a breach of the lease agreement terms, but landlords can also terminate a tenancy at will if adequate notice is given to the tenant. Regardless of the reasoning, landlords must follow eviction procedures carefully in order to expedite the process while remaining in accordance with Utah law.
Laws – Utah Code Part 8, Forcible Entry and Detainer
How to Evict
- Step 1 – Sending a Written Notice to Quit
- Step 2 – Communicating With the Tenant
- Step 3 – File in Court
- Step 4 – Serve the Tenant
- Step 5 – Appear in Court
- Step 6 – Order of Restitution
- Step 7 – Repossessing the Property
Step 1 – Sending a Written Notice to Quit
To formally begin the process, an eviction notice (also known as a “notice to quit”) must be served on the tenant before the landlord escalates the matter to court. Landlords must issue a written notice that specifies the type of violation or one communicating the landlord’s intent to terminate the tenancy at will. Landlords in Utah can select one (1) of the following notices to initiate the eviction process:
- Non-Payment of Rent (3-Day Notice): A landlord must issue this notice when seeking to evict a tenant for failing to pay rent on time. Rent is considered late if the tenant has not made a payment after three (3) days of the due date.1 After serving this notice, tenants will have an additional three (3) days to comply after they have been served.1
- Non-Compliance (3-Day Notice): This notice serves to notify a tenant they are in violation of the rental agreement due to non-compliance besides non-payment of rent. Landlords must issue a non-compliance notice with the description of the violation and instructions on how to cure the broken lease.2
- Illegal Activity (3-Day Notice): This notice shall be served if the tenant is involved in any criminal activity on or around the premises; these violations are incurable, meaning the tenant cannot correct the action and continue their tenancy.3
- Month-to-Month Tenancy (15-Day Notice): Satisfying legal requirements, this notice is utilized to terminate a tenancy at will. Landlords must inform tenants their month-to-month lease will end after the minimum fifteen (15) day notice.4 Tenants will have this time-window to source other housing and prepare their move.
Note: All of the above-mentioned “days” include weekends and holidays.
Step 2 – Communicating with the Tenant
It is in the mutual interest of the landlord and tenant to avoid a lengthy, drawn-out court dispute regarding the legality of the eviction. In most cases, evictions can be settled outside the court system through communication and transparency. Landlords can express their right to send an eviction notice to a tenant for the violations mentioned in Step 1, however, a tenant also has the right to cure said violation by complying within the specified timeframe.
Through understanding each parties’ rights, an eviction can be circumvented and kept away from the courts, where attorney and filing fees can be costly. There are, of course, cases in which eviction is an inevitable resort for the landlord. Filing an eviction in court is the next step in cases where the tenant does not comply nor attempt to cure the violation.
Step 3 – File in Court
- Average Processing Time: 1-3 months, depending on whether a trial is needed5
- Filing Fee: $90-$3756
- Where to File: The District Court nearest to where the property is located5
An eviction, known as a “Forcible Entry and Detainer,” must be filed in District Court once a landlord has exhausted measures to solve the issue outside of the court system, as detailed in Steps 1 and 2. Evicting a tenant without a court order is illegal.7 Therefore, a landlord must commence legal action in court upon a tenant’s failure to comply within the time stipulated on the notice to quit.
There are four (4) specific court-ordered forms required when filing for an eviction in the State of Utah. Please note, all four documents must be obtained from the District Court nearest to where the property is located:
- Complaint for Forcible Entry and Detainer: A landlord must file this form in order to formally petition the court to initiate the eviction process against a tenant who has failed to comply with the notice to quit.8
- Summons: The court will issue the tenant with a notice to appear in court on a specific date and time, which is known as a “summons.” The tenant will have three (3) business days after service to respond to the summons, unless otherwise specified by the court.8
- Answer Form: A tenant, after being served the summons, may utilize this form to respond to the court and state whether or not they believe the allegations to be true. Failure to respond can lead to a default judgment in favor of the landlord.9
- Order of Restitution: This form is issued by a judge after ruling in favor of the landlord in an eviction lawsuit. It will order the tenant to vacate the premises within three (3) days– unless the court determines a longer or shorter period is appropriate.
These forms are not available online. However, the Utah court system’s website has a self-help feature to navigate landlords through obtaining these four forms. The Self-Help Document Producing Site can be accessed here.
Step 4 – Serving the Tenant
The court will issue the tenant a summons (notice to appear in court) once the landlord files a complaint to initiate the eviction process. Any individual who is over the age of 18 and not involved in the action may serve the tenant with the summons through one of the following methods:
- Hand-delivering the notice to the tenant;
- By deliverance of the summons in-person to an individual at the tenant’s rental property who is of suitable age; or
- Sending a copy of the summons through mail or courier. The tenant must sign a receipt in order to confirm the mail was delivered to the correct address and person.
The tenant will respond to the summons by filing an answer within three (3) days after the date of service, but this time frame is subject to change at the court’s discretion.
Step 5 – Appear in Court
Both the landlord (plaintiff) and the tenant (defendant) must appear in court for an evidentiary hearing, which involves both parties and any legal representation stating the evidence for their claims. This hearing is held ten (10) days after the tenant files the Answer Form; the court may decide another trial is needed, in which case it will be held sixty (60) days after the landlord filed the complaint with the court.11
During the hearings/trials, the presiding judge will likely ask for both parties’ testimonies. Landlords should be prepared to address any questions and justify their reasoning behind evicting the tenant. One way for landlords to ensure their success during the hearing is by developing responses to common tenant defenses. Some of the most common defenses include:
- Procedural mistake defense, a tenant will claim the landlord did not follow civil procedure rules when issuing the notice to quit or other necessary documents. The eviction process occurs rapidly in Utah, and landlords must follow procedures in accordance with the law13
- Unsafe or unfit housing defense, a tenant will claim they did not pay rent due to serious issues with the rental property that the landlord refused to fix.14
- Retaliation defense, the tenant will state the landlord is evicting them due to a dismissal of a tenant’s assertion of rights14
- Discrimination defense, a tenant will argue the eviction was solely based on their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc14
- CDC Eviction Moratorium defense (temporary), the tenant will declare eligibility under the CDC-mandated halt to evictions for nonpayment of rent14
Step 6 – Order of Restitution
An Order of Restitution is awarded upon a ruling in favor of the landlord. The order will be sent to the tenant immediately after the ruling– serving as one final notice to leave the rental property before the court demands law enforcement to forcibly remove them.15
Step 7 – Repossessing the Property
Failure to vacate within three (3) days of receiving the order of restitution results in a forced eviction.10 A sheriff, constable, or any other authorized law enforcement officer may enter the premises by force to physically remove the tenant.
The landlord will have the property back in their possession once the officer has removed the tenant in a legal manner.
Video: Evictions in Utah
- § 78B-6-802(1)(c)
- § 78B-6-802(1)(h)
- § 78B-6-802(1)(g)
- § 78B-6-802(1)(b)(i)
- § 78A-2-301(1)(b)
- § 78B-6-814
- § 78B-6-807
- § 78B-6-812
- Utah R. Civ. P. 4
- § 78B-8-810
- § 78B-6-811