The property you are renting must be habitable and when your landlord rents you the property your landlord warrants to you that it is habitable. Basic living requirements, such as heat, hot water, working sewer, etc., must be provided and maintained. Rent withholding is recognized in Utah as a method of forcing the landlord to fix any serious health or safety violations on the property. However, the needed repairs must be for serious health and safety problems. For other repairs you must follow the county or city fit premises ordinance where you live, or if your county or city does not have an ordinance, then you must follow the Utah Fit Premises Statute, Utah Code § 57-22-1 through 6). These laws do not allow the withholding of rent and usually require one or more written notices to the landlord before you can use one of the methods in the particular statute or ordinance to get the repairs done, such as repair and deduct or file a law suit to force the repairs.
NOTE: While withholding rent is recognized under Utah law as a method of forcing your landlord to fix serious health or safety problems with your rental property, this does not mean that the judge will rule in your favor and let your stay. If you have been served with a Notice of Possession Bond you must decide whether you want to risk having the judge order that the sheriff can remove you. To prevent the sheriff from removing you, you can pay everything owed to your landlord under your rental agreement as well as other costs incurred by your landlord in suing you and you can stay. If you decide to continue with your defense of serious health or safety violations, and if you want to stay, the judge will most likely order that you pay into the court a counter bond. While the judge will set the bond amount in your case based upon what information you and the landlord give the judge, bonds may run between $1500 and $3000. Whether or not you post a counter bond, if there are serious health and safety problems with your rental property you should contact the Health Department to conduct an inspection. For more information on repairs, contact Utah Legal Services, Inc. (328-8891 in Salt Lake County; 1-800-662-4245 outside of Salt Lake County). Utah Legal Services publishes an informative Renters Handbook for Utah renters.