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Finding Legal Help

You are not required to hire an attorney, but legal matters can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. See the Finding Legal Help page for information about free and low cost ways to get legal help. 

Como encontrar ayuda legal

Usted no está obligado a contratar un abogado, pero los asuntos legales pueden ser complicados. Considere la posibilidad de hablar con un abogado para hablar de sus opciones. Para información sobre cómo obtener ayuda legal vea nuestra página Como encontrar ayuda legal.

Abandoned Premises

Abandoned premises defined

A landlord cannot evict a tenant without a court order. However, a landlord can recover possession if the premises have been abandoned. There are two circumstances in which a landlord can decide the premises have been abandoned.

One

  • There is no evidence the tenant is occupying the premises other than the tenant's personal property in the premises, and
  • the tenant has not notified the owner that they will be absent, and
  • the tenant fails to pay rent within 15 days after the due date.

Two

  • The tenant's personal property has been removed from the premises, and
  • the tenant has not notified the owner that they will be absent, and
  • the tenant fails to pay rent when due.

Utah Code Section 78B-6-815.


Declaration of abandonment - 24 hours to respond

If the requirements for deciding that the premises described in the Abandoned premises defined section above have been met, the landlord's next step is to serve the tenant with a declaration of abandonment. The required contents of the declaration are described in Utah Code Section 78B-6-815. The landlord must serve the declaration of abandonment on the tenant in one of these ways:

  • by delivering it to the tenant personally;
  • by mailing it registered or certified mail to the tenant at the tenant's residence;
  • if the tenant is absent from the residence, by leaving it with a person of suitable age and discretion and also mailing it to the tenant at the tenant's residence; or
  • if a person of suitable age or discretion cannot be found at the tenant's residence, by affixing it in a conspicuous place on the premises.

Utah Code Section 78B-6-805.

The tenant has 24 hours (not counting Saturdays, Sundays, or state or federal holidays) to dispute the declaration of abandonment. The dispute must be in writing and explain why the premises have not been abandoned. The written dispute must be served using one of the methods above, and must be served within 24 hours.


Removing and storing the tenant's personal property

If the premises is abandoned, the landlord may take possession and try to rent it at a fair rental value.

If there is personal property on the abandoned premises, the landlord may make a list of it, remove it, store it, and recover the moving and storage costs from the tenant. In order to legally remove the tenant's personal property, the landlord must follow the procedures described in the Declaration of abandonment - 24 hours to respond section above. Utah Code Section 78B-6-816.

A landlord is not required to store:

  • chemicals, pests, potentially dangerous or other hazardous materials;
  • animals, including dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, rodents, birds, or other pets;
  • gas, fireworks, combustibles, or any item considered to be hazardous or explosive;
  • garbage;
  • perishable items; or
  • items that when placed in storage might create a hazardous condition or a pest control issue.

These items may be disposed of immediately upon determination that the premises have been abandoned, and the tenant cannot recover them.


Removing a motor vehicle

Utah Code Section 78B-6-816 does not authorize the landlord to remove a motor vehicle from abandoned premises. Instead the landlord must either:

  • Have the vehicle towed, or
  • Call the police and ask that the vehicle be towed as abandoned (which means it has been left for more than seven days without permission).

Utah Code Section 41-6a-1407 and 1408.

A "motor vehicle" is any self-propelled vehicle intended primarily for use on the highways. A vehicle includes a motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, off-highway vehicle, manufactured home, and mobile home. Utah Code Section 41-1a-102.


Recovering tenant's personal property

If the landlord has removed and stored the tenant's personal property, the tenant may recover the personal property within 15 calendar days from the date of the notice by paying the landlord's costs to move and store the property. For more information, see our page on Tenant's Personal Property.


Tenant's liability for money damages if the premises have been abandoned

Under Utah Code Section 78B-6-816, a tenant who abandons the premises is liable for the lesser of:

  • the rent for the remainder of the term; or
  • the rent accrued during the time necessary to rent the premises at a fair rental value, plus the difference between the fair rental value and the rent agreed to by the tenant, plus a reasonable commission for renting the premises, plus the costs necessary to restore the premises to their condition when rented by the tenant less normal wear and tear.

The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.


Page Last Modified: 5/4/2018
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