Landlord has failed to make repairs

Evictions

My landlord has failed to make necessary repairs to my home, can I stop paying my rent until he makes the repairs?

No. You must stay current on your rent payments and all of your other requirements of your rental agreement. Under the Utah Fit Premises Act, there is an exception to this general rule. Under Utah Code 57-22-6(2), if there is a deficient or dangerous condition on the premises, a tenant must give notice to the landlord and state a reasonable time period for repairing the premises and must state which remedy the tenant will choose if the landlord fails to comply with the notice. If the landlord fails to make the repairs within the stated time period, the tenant may choose from the following (as long as they are stated in the notice): (1) abatement of rent; (2) termination of rental agreement; or (3) payment by the landlord to the tenant for the cost of repair. However, before any one of these remedies can be started, the tenant must file an action in the District Court to enforce the remedy stated in the notice. This process can often be confusing and difficult to navigate, therefore it is best to consult with an attorney if you believe that you have a claim under the Utah Fit Premises Act.

My landlord is trying to evict me, but I have not gotten any court orders about this eviction, is this legal?

NO! It is against the law for a landlord to evict you without a court order. Under Utah Code 78B-6-814, a landlord may not evict you without first obtaining a court order. Eviction under Utah law includes willfully excluding you from your premises in any manner. For example, if the landlord were to change your locks while you were out, that would constitute unlawful eviction. Similarly, the landlord may not enter into your home and remove any of your items without a court order.

In order for an eviction to be legal, the landlord must institute what is called an “eviction lawsuit.” Before an eviction lawsuit can begin, the landlord must first give written notice to the tenant. This written notice will contain a number of days and sometimes a clause stating how the tenant can remedy the situation. For example, a notice might state “3 days to pay rent or vacate.” If the tenant pays the rent within the 3 day period, the tenant can avoid eviction. Other types of notices may not give the tenant a chance to remedy the situation, however, under the law, they must still give the tenant a period of time in order to vacate the premises. An example of this notice includes: “3 day nuisance or criminal nuisance.” This type of notice is generally given for “bad behavior” or alleged commission of a crime and the tenant does not have to be given a chance to cure the problem

What is the process for eviction?

First, the landlord must give the tenant an eviction notice. The eviction notice ends the lease and must be served upon the tenant in order to be effective. Second, if the tenant fails to comply with the eviction notice, the landlord must file an eviction lawsuit with the court. The eviction lawsuit must be filed in Utah’s District Courts. Third, the eviction case is heard before the court. Once the case reaches the court, the judge will hear both sides of the case, this is where the tenant has the opportunity to present his/her defenses. After hearing both sides of the case, the judge will render a decision as to whether or not the eviction should be effectuated; this decision can sometimes take up to a year. Once the judge makes a final decision, if the judge sides with the landlord, the sheriff will be the one to effectuate the eviction by changing the locks on the property in question. Generally, the judge will include in his decision an order for the sheriff to give the tenant an opportunity to remove his/her property from the premises.

What should I do if I get an eviction notice?

If you get an eviction notice, it is important that you seek legal help immediately. On the eviction notice, there will be a specified number of days and, sometimes, a way of remedying the eviction within that specified time period. An example includes: a notice that you have 3 days to pay rent or vacate. This would constitute an eviction notice, but it does provide you with a way to remedy the situation. If you can pay the rent within the time period stated, that should stop the eviction proceeding.

What defenses might I have to eviction?

Under Utah law, you can assert any of the following defenses if you are facing an eviction action:

(1) The breach of a lease provision is not substantial enough to warrant eviction;

(2) The lease provision that has been violated is unreasonable;

(3) The allegations are false;

(4) There was improper service;

(5) The notice was improper;

(6) The landlord waived eviction by accepting any part of the rent;

(7) The landlord failed to remedy a condition hazardous to the tenant’s safety or health or which is in violation of the housing code after becoming aware of the hazardous condition;

(8) The eviction is in retaliation for the tenant having filed a complaint regarding the condition of the property to the landlord or to a government agency or for joining a tenant’s rights organization; and/or

(9) The eviction violates the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits evicting a tenant based upon the individual’s religion, race, sex, national origin, creed, age, family status, source of income or disability. 

Can my landlord evict me for paying rent late? What about missing one month’s payment?

If you miss one payment, your landlord may be able to evict you, however, your landlord generally is required to give you notice and at least a three day time period to pay the missed rent. If you do not pay the rent after the three-day period, the landlord may begin an eviction proceeding.

I am looking for a new place, what provisions should my lease contain?

A lease or rental agreement should contain all of the following provisions: (1) the amount of rent; (2) where you must make the rent payment; (3) when the rent is due; (4) what form of payment the rent should be; (5) how much notice the landlord is required to give the tenant if they choose to raise the rent; (6) the amount of any extra fees that will be charged if the rent check bounces; and (7) the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.

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Michael Hepworth

Michael Hepworth

Managing Attorney at Hepworth & Associates
Michael is the Managing Attorney of Hepworth & Associates, LLC.
Michael Hepworth

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