If a tenant is behind in rent, a landlord may serve the tenant with a Three Day Pay or Quit eviction notice.
Many landlords use the eviction program on the Utah State Courts' web site: https://www.utcourts.gov/ocap/
Note that the landlord can personally hand the tenant the eviction notice. The landlord does not need to use a process server to deliver this eviction notice.
After being served, the tenant has three consecutive days within which to pay everything owing to the landlord. A partial payment is not sufficient.
Sometimes tenants offer to pay the landlord the money, but the landlord refuses to accept it because the landlord wants the tenant to leave. Tenants should take neutral witnesses with them when tendering the full amount of rent within the three days allowed in the notice. For example, if your Bishop has agreed to pay your rent, it's best that the Bishop be involved in the payment. They make excellent witnesses at a hearing.
A tenant served with a Three Day Pay or Quit Notice should contact Utah Legal Services. They are the main provider of legal services in Utah for tenants being evicted. In Salt Lake County call 801-328-8891 or go to: http://www.utahlegalservices.org/
A tenant may have other rights that an attorney can advise them on. For example , if the premises were to be uninhabitable the tenant might be able to raise the issue in the eviction case, depending on what the tenant has done to try to have the landlord rectify the problem.
Ultimately, eviction for nonpayment of rent is not a legal problem. It's a money problem. And no amount of effort by an attorney can stop an eviction if the only issue is the tenant doesn't have the rent. If a tenant wants to stay, the tenant needs to come up with the rent, and pay it to the landlord before the three day pay or quit eviction notice expires.
NOTE: Being unable to pay rent because of medical issues is not a defense to eviction.
Should a tenant be unable to locate the money, the tenant has certain rights under the Unlawful Detainer Statute (Utah Code 78B-6-801 through 816: http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE78B/htm/78B06_080100.htm)
The tenant has the right to be served with the correct eviction notice. The notice must clearly state it is for nonpayment of rent, and also clearly state the tenant has three days within which to pay all of the money owed, or vacate the premises. (Utah Code 78B-6-802 http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE78B/htm/78B06_080200.htm)
If the tenant pays everything owing within three days, the tenant can stay.
If the tenant does not pay everything within three days, the landlord cannot simply remove the tenant from the premises. The only option available to the landlord is to file a complaint in the District Court asking that the court issue an order of restitution. When the landlord does this, the landlord will have the tenant served with the complaint and a three day summons. Note that the landlord cannot personally serve the summons and complaint. The landlord needs to follow the requirements set out in Rule 4 of the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure. Most landlords will use a sheriff or constable as a process server to deliver the summons and complaint. However, any adult not connected to the case can serve the summons and complaint.
Whereas the tenant had three consecutive days to respond to the original eviction notice, the tenant has the next three days when the court is open for business to respond to the summons and complaint. If served right before a holiday weekend, the number of days can add up to as many as six days to respond. The rule is, if the third day falls on a day the court is not open, the tenant has until the end of the next day the court is open to file an answer.
Many tenants use the OCAP program on the Utah State Courts' web site (https://www.utcourts.gov/ocap/) to prepare an answer to the summons and complaint.
If the tenant does not feel that three working days is sufficient to answer the summons and complaint, the tenant can file a motion to lengthen the three days to answer. This motion is also available on the OCAP web site (https://www.utcourts.gov/ocap/) It will be up to the judge to grant the motion, depending on the reason the tenant gives. (Utah Code 78B-6-806 http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE78B/htm/78B06_080700.htm)
Whether or not they have a defense, many tenants will file an answer. They will then be able to remain in the premises until the court signs an order of restitution.
Knowing that many tenants will file an answer, landlords often do one of several things to expedite the eviction.
A landlord may post a possession bond, and serve the tenant with the notice of possession bond. The notice will contain several options. (a) The tenant is allowed to pay everything owing within three days and stay. (b) The tenant can vacate the premises. (c) The tenant can request a hearing. (d) The tenant can file a counter-bond. Realistically, if a tenant does not have money to pay rent, they will almost always either vacate the premises or request a hearing.
In the case of nonpayment of rent, there is a special statutory provision that allows the landlord to forego the possession bond, and simply ask the court to set a hearing. The tenant may also request a hearing, but it would be rare in a nonpayment of rent case when it would be wise for a tenant to do so. (Utah Code 78B-6-810 http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE78B/htm/78B06_081000.htm)
If a landlord requests a hearing, the hearing must be held within 10 days of the day the tenant files an answer with the court. Realistically, most courts have regular calendars to hear these types of cases and the hearings may occur within one or two days. For example, in Salt Lake there are three days a week when these hearings are held.
At the hearing the judge may either allow the landlord and tenant to put on evidence as to all of the issues in the case, or simply determine possession. Most judges opt for the latter. They only determine who has the right to possession of the premises. If the tenant does not have a defense, the judge will sign an order of restitution. The type of defense that would be valid in the case of nonpayment of rent might be that the tenant tendered the rent within the time allowed in the eviction notice and the landlord refused to accept it. If the tenant is going to offer this type of defense, the tenant had better still have the money. If the money has been spent, the judge will sign an order of restitution.
Once an order of restitution is signed, it is served by a sheriff or constable. The order can be enforceable immediately, or will allow a number of days for the tenant to voluntarily vacate, typically three days. The sheriff or constable will most often serve the order, then return at the end of the time allowed. If the tenant is still there, the sheriff will escort the tenant off the premises. Landlords are then allowed to change the lock, and remove the tenant's personal items. Many landlords will put the items in storage. However, there are landlords who simply move it out to the street, call someone to haul it away, such as Deseret Industries, or haul it to the dump. Doing anything but allowing the tenant to remove the property or placing it in storage violates Utah law. (Utah Code 78B-6-812 http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE78B/htm/78B06_081200.htm)
If the property is placed in storage, the tenant then has 15 days to pay storage costs and remove the property. However, a tenant is allowed immediate access to remove clothing, identification, financial documents, prescription medication, and any medical equipment required for maintenance of medical needs, as well as documents, including all those related to tenant's immigration status, employment status, receipt of public services, and medical information. If the tenant does not pay storage fees and remove the property within 15 days, then the property is treated as abandoned property under (Utah Code 78B-6-816. http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE78B/htm/78B06_081600.htm)
If a tenant feels that the order of restitution was not properly issued, the tenant can request a hearing. However, the court will allow the sheriff or constable to remove the tenant unless the tenant posts a bond into the court. The bond can be cash, property, or certified funds.
If the tenant feels the court reached a wrong decision in the eviction case, and the tenant wants to appeal the decision, the tenant must file an appeal with the Utah Court of Appeals within 10 days of the judgment being entered.
Even though a tenant has been removed from the premises, the tenant remains liable for the remainder of the lease. (Utah Code 78B-6-811 http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE78B/htm/78B06_081100.htm)
The landlord has an obligation to "mitigate damages." What this means is that the landlord must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the premises in a timely manner. The tenant will no longer need to pay any rent if the next tenant is paying more. But if the landlord could not rent the premises for as much as the tenant being evicted was paying, then that tenant is liable for the difference.
Landlords are allowed to submit an affidavit of damages at some point after the tenants are no longer in the premises. The landlord will often include amounts for repairs, rent, late fees, other money owed under the lease, and if the lease has an attorney's fee provision, then for attorney fees.
To learn more about the eviction process in Utah, go to the following web pages: