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.
Eviction Information for Tenants
COVID-19 Eviction Information
The pandemic has led to changes to law the on evictions. Check back here for updates.
Information for tenants
CDC Eviction Moratorium
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a partial moratorium (ban) on evictions. The moratorium was extended by another CDC order and is effective until March 31, 2021. It covers:
- all of Utah (and most of the country)
- all landlords or owners of residential property
- evictions for nonpayment of rent – other kinds of evictions (nuisance, lease violation) are still allowed
Protection under the eviction moratorium is not automatic. If you cannot pay rent you must sign a declaration and give it to your landlord. Each person on the lease should sign a declaration. Declarations are available below:
You can give the declaration to your landlord at any time before you are actually evicted by the sheriff.
The declaration is under penalty of perjury. When you sign the declaration you are promising that:
- you have used best efforts to get government assistance for rent or housing
- at least one of the following applies to your situation
- you expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for calendar year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return) or
- you were not required to report any income in 2019 or
- you received a stimulus check under the CARES Act
- you are unable to pay the full rent due to
- a substantial loss of household income,
- loss of compensable hours of work or wages,
- a layoff or
- extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses
- you are using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as your individual circumstances allow, and
- you would likely be homeless or forced to move into and live in close quarters in a new communal or shared living setting because you have no other available housing options
Keep a copy of the declaration for your records and note how you sent it to your landlord and the date you sent it.
The moratorium does not forgive rent. You are required to make partial payments for rent if you can. Rent, late fees and penalties can still accrue during the moratorium. If you have not paid all of the back rent you owed when the moratorium ends on March 31, 2021 you could be evicted. You are also required to comply with all other terms of your lease
Help paying rent
You might be able to get help paying your rent. Visit UT Rent Relief to apply for up to $2,000 a month in rent, utilities and more. Even if you do not apply for rental assistance, your landlord could apply for rental assistance for you. Stay in touch with your landlord.
There may be other protections that apply in your situation. Consider getting legal help. See our Agencies and Organizations page for a list of groups that might be able to help. Pay attention to deadlines and contact the Self-Help Center if you have questions.
This page includes information about the residential eviction process only. The page does not address commercial evictions.
If you are a tenant, and have received papers from your landlord about an eviction, this page explains what the papers mean and how to respond. If you are a landlord needing to evict someone, see our page on Eviction information for landlords.
Do not ignore papers that you receive. Deadlines are short in eviction and the cases move quickly.
This page explains what you can do to respond to eviction papers. What you can do will depend on what you receive. Read below to find out what to do if:
- You receive a notice to vacate (this is the first step in an eviction case)
- You receive a Summons and Complaint (this is the second step in an eviction case)
- You receive an Order of Restitution (this is the order telling the sheriff to forcibly remove you from the residence)
- You receive an Affidavit of Damages or other paperwork requesting a judgment (this usually comes at the end of the process)
See the Road map of the eviction process for an overall picture of the process and timelines. Some procedures may vary from court to court.
You might be able to get free legal help. These organizations might represent you for free:
- People's Legal Aid - apply for help online or by calling 801-477-6975
- Utah Legal Services - apply for help online or by calling 800-662-4245
Some tenants have special protections
Tenants in government subsidized housing
If you live in housing supported by the government you might have more protections. Contact Utah Legal Services for more information and help.
Owners of mobile homes who rent lots mobile home parks
There are also special protections for people who live in mobile (manufactured) home parks. These protections apply if:
- You live in a mobile home
- You own your mobile home, and
- Your mobile home is in a mobile home park- and you rent a lot
If you meet all of these criteria the eviction will follow different procedures. These are detailed in Utah Code Title 57, Chapter 16, Mobile Home Park Residency Act. See the S J Quinney College of Law's Mobile Home Park Helpline web page for additional resources.
If you do not own the mobile home, the procedures below apply.
Evicting a tenant without a court order is against the law
It is against the law for a landlord to intentionally deny a tenant access to the tenant's residence in any manner without a court order. This includes changing the locks, shutting off utilities, taking property belonging to the tenant, harassment or blocking the tenant from entering or exiting the residence. A tenant is someone who has a rental agreement or lease (written or oral), has given the owner (or primary occupant) something of value in exchange for living there, or both.
Something of value can include money, an exchange of labor, or contributing toward household expenses such as utilities or groceries.
Utah Legal Services has information that may help a tenant who has been illegally locked out.
A long-term guest (a person who does not have a rental agreement and has not given the landlord something of value in exchange for living there) is not a tenant and can be removed with police help under criminal trespass law.
If you receive a notice to vacate
View Instructions: If you receive a notice to vacate
Serving you with a notice to vacate (sometimes called a notice to quit) is the first step your landlord can take in the eviction process. An eviction notice tells you that you must either move out or you will be sued for eviction. The notice might give you the chance to fix the problem (such as paying rent or following the rules in your lease) instead of moving out.
Your notice will have a deadline to comply. The day you receive the notice is considered day zero. So if you receive a 3 day notice to vacate on Monday, you have until the end of the day on Thursday to move out.
You have a few options when you receive the notice. Generally, you can:
- Fix the problem in the notice
- If the notice is for nonpayment of rent, you have 3 business days to pay the money you owe. Contact 2-1-1 to find out about rental assistance options available in your county
- If the notice is for a lease violation, fix the problem and tell the landlord in writing what you have done
- Try to work something out with your landlord
- One option is to ask your landlord to attend mediation. This would involve you, your landlord and another person, a mediator who is not on your side or your landlord's side. The mediator's job is to try to help you and your landlord come to an agreement
- Move out
- Stay in your residence and try to challenge the lawsuit - but see the consequences section below for details about what could happen next
Consequences for not complying with the notice
If you don't resolve the issue or move out before the notice expires, the landlord can file eviction papers in court and have you served. If the landlord wins the case you could be responsible for:
- Any unpaid rent
- Three times the daily value of your residence for each day you remain after the notice expires
- For example, if your rent is $750 each month, you would divide that by 30 to get your daily rental amount of $25. If you stay in your residence for 21 days after your notice expires, you would multiply $25 times 21. This equals $525, but this amount is then multiplied by 3, so you will owe $1,575
- Three times the amount of money you owe under the lease (including late fees)
- Three times the amount it costs to repair any damage you caused to the residence if your notice is for waste (causing physical harm to the residence or neglecting to maintain the residence)
- Three times the amount it costs to undo any nuisance you caused if your notice is for nuisance
- Attorney fees
- Court costs
The filing of an eviction lawsuit is also a permanent public record. The fact that you were sued for eviction can make it harder to find another place to rent. If a landlord wins a judgment against you that can also hurt your credit, which can also make it harder to find another place to rent. Utah Legal Services has more information on what can happen to you in an eviction case.
Requirements for a notice to vacate
Your landlord must strictly follow the requirements when giving you a notice. The table below includes information on the requirements for notices:
The notice to vacate can be served by any person, including the landlord:
- by delivering it to the tenant personally
- by mailing it registered or certified mail, or an equivalent means, 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 (usually on the door to the residence)
Extra time for tenants in a foreclosed property
If you are a tenant living in a property that was foreclosed upon you may be entitled to a 90 day notice before you can be evicted. The 90 day notice is required if the mortgage was federally related and you are a “bona fide” tenant. A bona fide tenant:
- is not the foreclosed homeowner or the spouse, child, or parent of the foreclosed homeowner
- negotiated their lease with the previous homeowner as if they were strangers, without giving or receiving any special favors, and
- is required to pay rent that is not substantially less than fair market rent for the property or the unit's rent is reduced or subsidized due to a Federal, State, or local subsidy
These protections come from the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act (PTFA). More information on the PTFA is available from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
12 USC 5220, note.
If you receive a Summons and Complaint
View Instructions: If you receive a Summons and Complaint
If you do not take care of the issues in your notice to vacate the landlord can file eviction documents in court and have you served with two important documents:
- A Summons: this tells you your rights. Once you receive the Summons you have only 3 business days to respond.
- A Complaint: this will explain why the landlord is evicting you. The Complaint should also have attachments:
- A copy of your lease
- A copy of the notice to vacate
The day you receive the Summons and Complaint is day zero. So if you receive the Summons and Complaint on a Monday, you would have until the court closes on Thursday to respond.
If you disagree with what the Complaint says, or parts of what it says, you can protect your rights by filing an Answer. The Answer lets the court know that you disagree with the Complaint and you want to be heard in court. You can find an Answer in the forms section below. When you file your Answer with the court you must send a copy to the landlord or their attorney. Service must be under URCP 5. See our explanation of Service of Other Papers for more information.
If you do not file an Answer the landlord can get a default judgment against you. This means:
- You lose the cause automatically for not filing a response to the Complaint in time
- You can be evicted quickly
- Your landlord is entitled to any money they asked for in the Complaint
In addition to filing an Answer you can also file a counterclaim. This means you are suing the landlord based on the issues you raise in your counterclaim. The landlord has 21 days to respond to your counterclaim. If they do not respond you can ask the court for a default judgment. For more information, see our page on Default Judgments.
Who is the plaintiff?
The Complaint must name the property owner as plaintiff. However, this can include the owner's designated agent (this could be a designated property manager). If the complaint is not filed in the name of the owner or their agent you can raise this issue in your Answer.
After you file your Answer there will be a hearing. What kind of hearing will depend on the issues in your case.
After you file the Answer you or your landlord can request an occupancy hearing. Once it is requested the court will hold a hearing within 10 days.
The landlord must serve the following documents on the you at least 2 days before the hearing by the method most likely to be promptly received:
- Any document not already disclosed that will be presented at the hearing
- The name and contact information for each witness that will be called at the hearing
- A summary of the expected testimony of any witness that will be called
You must serve the following documents on your landlord at least 2 days before the hearing by the method most likely to be promptly received:
- Any document not already disclosed that will be presented at the hearing
- The name and contact information for each witness that will be called at the hearing
- A summary of the expected testimony of any witness that will be called
At the hearing the judge will decide who has the right to occupy the residence while the case moves forward. If you do not attend the hearing, the judge will issue an Order of Restitution for the premises and you can be evicted immediately. The Order of Restitution directs the sheriff or constable to evict the tenant and return possession to the landlord.
If the judge finds that all of the issues can be decided without more hearings, the judge will decide those issues and enter judgment on the merits. If the judge decides there is a need for more information and hearings and the tenant remains in possession of the premises, the judge will begin the trial within 60 days after the day on which the Complaint was served unless the parties agree otherwise.
If the court does not automatically schedule a trial you or the landlord can file papers to ask the court for a trial. See our page on Getting Ready for Trial - Civil Cases for more information.
Hearing for criminal nuisance
If the case is for criminal nuisance the court will hold an evidentiary hearing, which is similar to an occupancy hearing. The hearing will be within 10 days of the day the Complaint is filed. Notice of the hearing must be served on the tenant with the Summons at least 3 calendar days before the hearing.
If you receive notice of a possession bond
It is not common, but you might receive notice the landlord has filed a possession bond. They must have this served on you in the same manner as the Summons. See our webpage on service for more details. The notice must inform you of all of the remedies and procedures available to you under Utah Code Section 78B-6-808(4).
The possession bond lets the landlord evict you and take possession of the residence while the eviction case moves forward. The landlord is required to deposit money or a promise to pay with the court to cover your damages if, in the end, you win.
The judge must approve the amount of the bond. The amount must be enough to pay your probable costs and damages if the court awards judgment for you and against the landlord. The bond may be a corporate or cash bond or certified funds. The court will hold the money in trust until the case is finished. The bond may be a property bond executed by two persons who own real property in the state and who are not parties to the action. A property bond must meet the requirements of URCP 72.
Once the possession bond is filed and served, you have the following options:
- Within 3 business days after being served with notice of the bond, you can demand a hearing, which must be held within 3 business days
- If the eviction is based solely upon failure to pay rent or other money due, the rental agreement will remain in force and the Complaint will be dismissed if the you pay all accrued rent accrued rent, all other money due, and other costs, including attorney fees, as provided in the rental agreement. You must do this within 3 calendar days after service of the notice of the possession bond
- For any eviction, you can remain in possession of the residence by filing a counter bond. The counter bond must meet the same requirements as the original possession bond. Any prepaid rent is a portion of your counter bond.
- You must file the counter bond within 3 business days after service of notice of the landlord's possession bond or within 24 hours after the court sets the amount of the counter bond, whichever is later, unless the court allows additional time.
If you do not comply with any of the remedies and procedures, the court will enter an Order of Restitution. This tells the sheriff or constable to evict you and return possession of the residence to the landlord.
If the court rules after the hearing that the landlord is entitled to possession of the residence, the court will enter an Order of Restitution. If the court allows you to remain in possession and if further issues must be decided, the court will require you to post a counter bond. The court will expedite the remaining proceedings. If the court rules that all issues between the parties can be decided without further proceedings, the court will decide who wins.
If you receive an Order of Restitution
View Instructions: If you receive an Order of Restitution
An Order of Restitution is the order from the court to a sheriff or constable ordering you to be evicted. The order will tell you:
- You must vacate the residence, remove your personal property, and restore possession of the residence to the landlord, or be forcibly removed by a sheriff or constable;
- When you must vacate - usually 3 calendar days following service of the order, but it might be less; and
- About the right to a hearing to contest how the order is enforced.
The Order of Restitution must be served along with a Request for Hearing Regarding Enforcement of an Order of Restitution form (available in the forms section below). The Request for Hearing form lets you request a hearing if you think your rights were violated. This form does not stop the eviction and is not an appeal. Both forms must be served by a sheriff, constable or private investigator. They must serve the documents by:
- By delivering it to you personally
- By mailing it registered or certified mail, or an equivalent means, to you at your residence
- If you are absent from the residence, by leaving it with a person of suitable age and discretion and also mailing it to your residence, or
- If a person of suitable age or discretion cannot be found at the residence, by affixing it in a conspicuous place at the residence
There are not many options when you receive the Order of Restitution. Here are some possible next steps:
- Move out - if you can't take all of your belongings with you, plan to at least take:
- Important documents, like identification, social security cards, and birth certificates
- Things you need for your health, like medicine, medical supplies, glasses, and important medical records
- Cherished objects, like treasured photos, momentos, and other things that have a strong sentimental value
- Try to work something out with your landlord - your landlord is not required to talk to you or to let you stay, but you can try talking to them and offering them something to give you more time
What can I do to stop the eviction?
Filing the Request for Hearing Regarding Enforcement of an Order of Restitution does not stop the eviction. If you want to ask the court to stop the eviction you can try filing a motion to delay enforcement of a judgment (sometimes called a motion to stay).
The court cannot grant the motion unless you post a bond with the court for an amount that is enough to pay the landlord's probable costs, attorney fees, and damages (including unpaid rent) if the court decides in favor of the landlord. Any prepaid rent is a portion of the tenant's bond. See our page on Motion to Delay for more information.
If you don't know where you will be able to stay, contact Utah 2-1-1 for help in your county.
Your rights after you are evicted
If you do not move out as required in the Order of Restitution, a sheriff or constable may enter the residence by force to remove you. After that, you are not allowed to reenter the residence.
However, the landlord must give you reasonable access within 5 business days to retrieve:
- Financial documents, including all those related to the tenant's immigration status or employment status
- Documents about the receipt of public services, and
- Medical information, prescription medications, and any medical equipment required for maintenance of medical needs
You have the right to retrieve these items without paying any storage costs.
Other items that you leave behind can be removed by the sheriff or constable or can stay in the residence. The landlord is allowed to charge you a reasonable moving or storage cost for these items. If you want your belongings back you must:
- Contact the landlord to find out what the storage or moving costs are
- Write the landlord to request your belongings
- Pay the costs for moving and storing you belongings
If you do not pay the moving and storage costs and recover your personal property within 15 calendar days, the property is considered abandoned. The landlord can then sell or donate these items. For more information, see our page on Tenant's Personal Property.
Tell the court how to contact you
The eviction by the sheriff is not necessarily the end of your court case. The landlord can still file a request for a judgment against you. You have the right to receive notice of the judgment and to challenge the judgment if you want. The landlord only has to send notice of the request for judgment to your last known address. You can let the court know what your new address is (including an email address) so that you can receive notice of what else is filed in your case. See our page on Notifying the Court of Address, Contact Information or Name Changes for more information.
If your rights are violated you can request a hearing
You can request a hearing if you disagree with how the Order of Restitution is enforced. The landlord must have you served with a blank Request for Hearing Regarding Enforcement of an Order of Restitution form along with the Order of Restitution. You can also find the Request for Hearing in the forms section below. The Request for Hearing does not stop the eviction.
Possible reasons to request a hearing include:
- You were not properly served with a copy of the Order of Restitution
- You were not given the time ordered by the court to move out
- Your property is not being stored in a suitable place or in a suitable manner, or both
- There are problems with getting personal belongings returned
- The removal and storage costs the landlord is charging are unreasonable
- You were not provided with a copy of the inventory of the property removed
- You demanded return of their property within 15 days of the date it was removed and paid all costs associated with its removal and storage, but the property was not returned
- Someone other than you delivered a written demand for the release of their property to the constable or sheriff, and provided proper identification and evidence of ownership, but the property was not returned
- There are problems with the sale of the property
- A written notice of the time and place of sale of your property was not mailed to you
- You attended the sale of their property, but the remainder of the property was not released to you after you paid for costs of removal, storage, advertising, and conducting the sale
- After your property was sold there was money left over after the costs for removal, storage, advertising and conducting the sale, and paying landlords judgment, but that money was not returned to you
The court will set the hearing within 10 calendar days from the day you file the Request for Hearing or as soon as possible after that.
If you receive an Affidavit of Damages or other paperwork requesting a judgment
View Instructions: If you receive an Affidavit of Damages or other paperwork requesting a judgment
A landlord can request a judgment against you that orders you to pay them money. They can request a judgment when you:
- Lose the case because you did not file an Answer
- Fail to appear at the occupancy hearing, if the court strikes your Answer and enters a default
- Lose at trial.
If you lost your case because you did not file an Answer or you failed to appear at the occupancy hearing, see our page on Motion to Set Aside Default or Judgment for more information.
The landlord must send you the papers requesting judgment. They can send these through the regular mail or even email. The papers will be sent to the address you have been evicted from if you have not provided a new address.
Once you receive the request for judgment you have 7 calendar days to let the court know if you oppose the request. If you disagree with the landlord's calculations or other claims for damages you can challenge the request by filing an Objection to Form of Judgment, available in the forms section below. You would need to file your objection and serve it on the landlord under URCP 5. See our explanation of Service of Other Papers for more information.
Once you file and serve your Objection to Form of Judgment the court could either make a decision based on the papers that have been filed or it could schedule a hearing. At the hearing you can explain to the court why you think the landlord's request for judgment is wrong.
What can be included in the judgment
The judgment will end the rental agreement, but you will still owe the rent for the remainder of the agreement. However, this amount is limited by the landlord's duty to reduce damages - this means the landlord must try to rent the residence to someone else as soon as reasonably possible. The judgment can also be also be for three times the actual damages for:
- The daily rental value of the residence for each day the tenant stayed in the rental after the notice expired;
- Forcible entry;
- Repair of waste of the premises; and
- The amounts due under the contract if the eviction is for nonpayment of rent or other amounts due under the contract;
- The abatement of the nuisance by eviction.
The landlord must prove all of these damages, and the amount of rent owed.
- Declaration for the CDC's Temporary Halt in Evictions - PDF | Word
- Answer - PDF | Word (or use OCAP)
- Use OCAP to
- prepare an Answer to the Complaint
- prepare a response to a possession bond
- Request for Hearing Regarding Enforcement of an Order of Restitution - PDF | Word
- Objection to Form of Order or Judgment -
(Used to object to the proposed order or Judgment)
Utah Legal Services eviction forms
- Eviction help
- Homeless Shelters
- People's Legal Aid
- Utah Housing Authorities
- Utah Legal Services - Housing Information
- Abandoned Premises
- Criminal Trespass by a Long-term Guest
- Finding Legal Help
- Free Legal Clinics
- Getting Ready for Trial – Civil Cases
- Going to Court
- Refunding Renters' Deposits
- Road map of the eviction process - PDF
- Tenant's Personal Property
- Tenant Toolkit (Utah Housing Coalition)
- Utah Code Section 57-17-1 to -5 (Residential Renters' Deposits)
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