Housing Justice


EVICTION INFORMATION FOR UTAH TENANTS

You should know that the eviction process happens extremely fast. If you are expecting to face eviction, you should prepare now. Legally, you have the right to take specific actions to slow or, in some cases, stop an eviction entirely. This page is to help address five essential topics to help you.

  1. Your Rights as a Tenant
  2. Explaining the Eviction Process
  3. Responding to Eviction Document(s) from the Landlord
  4. How to Find Free/Reduced Legal Aid
  5. How to Find Financial Help for Rent

YOUR RIGHTS AS A TENANT

The following information is from Utah Code 78B-6-814. Your landlord must always have a court order (with a Judge’s signature and stamp) to evict you. Without a court order, a landlord CANNOT:

  1. Change Your Locks
  2. Shut Off Your Utilities
  3. Take Your Belongings
  4. Enter the Rental Unit Without Advance Notice to the Tenant; except if a True Emergency Exists
  5. Harass, Intimidate, or Threaten You or Your Guests
  6. Block You From Entering or Leaving Your Unit

You are legally termed a “tenant” if you:

  1. Have a Written Lease
  2. Have the Landlord’s Oral Permission to Live in Your Unit
  3. Have Given the Landlord Something Valuable (money, labor, help with the bills) in Exchange for Letting You Live There

Note: Tenants in government housing (like Section 8) have more rights than these. 

If you believe that your landlord has violated your rights, contact Utah Legal Services:

THE EVICTION PROCESS 

A visual representation of the Eviction Process can be found here.

Usually, there are four primary documents/steps that a landlord will give you during an eviction process:

  1. Notice to Vacate
  2. Summons and Complaint
  3. Order of Restitution (this is what a sheriff gets from the courts that will forcibly remove you from the residence)
  4. Affidavit of Damages/other paperwork request a money Judgment (usually comes after you leave – so the landlord can fix and/or repairs/damages to the unit property)

If you receive any of these documents, visit the Utah Courts Eviction Information for Tenants Page.

Responding to these documents promptly is EXTREMELY important. For example, if you don’t respond to a Notice to Vacate within three days, you will most likely face eviction. See the next section on how to respond.

HOW TO RESPOND TO EVICTION DOCUMENTS 

Perhaps, the hardest part of the eviction process is filling out the legal documents. Legally, you must represent yourself if you cannot afford and/or find an attorney. The Court will not appoint a free attorney to you. If you fill out and represent yourself in court (without an attorney), you are considered a “pro se” litigant.

The easiest way to respond to eviction documents is by using Utah’s OCAP (Online Court Assistance Program). OCAP acts like an interview. It will ask you a series of questions and then fill out the legal documents.

  1. Go to the OCAP Utah Courts page.
  2. Click “I need an OCAP account.”
  3. Create your account.
  4. Begin an “eviction interview.”
  5. Once the OCAP interview is completed, OCAP will generate a PDF file with all of your documents.
  6. Print off the documents and bring them to court.
    1. If you are unsure what court to go to, read through the documents that you were served, and it should state where the court is located.

HOW TO FIND FREE/REDUCED LEGAL AID 

The Utah Self-Help Center provides free legal help to parties without attorneys. They cannot give you legal advice or represent you in court, but they can help in the following ways:

  1. Answer questions about the law, court process, and options
  2. Provide court forms and instructions and help to complete forms
  3. Provide information about your case
  4. Provide information about mediation services, legal advice, and representation through pro bono and low-cost legal services, legal aid programs, and lawyer referral services
  5. Provide information about resources provided by law libraries

The Utah Self-Help Center’s phone-line is usually extremely busy, so they recommend that you contact them via email or text.

Utah Legal Services offer the lowest rates for attorneys. You can apply here.

The Utah Court’s offer links to other free legal services here.

HOW TO FIND FINANCIAL AID FOR RENT 

The best way to stop eviction is by finding money fast. Utah 211 is the best resource for finding assistance with rent, utilities, and other housing matters. The Utah 211 website also has resources for food, transportation, domestic violence, mental health, and addiction resources. You should also fill out the application for Utah Rent Relief.

Keep in mind:

  • Always have written communication between your landlord and yourself. Keep all emails, text messages, notices, papers, etc. You can provide any written communication to the courts as evidence. Any in-person contact can quickly become he-said-she-said and does not hold well in court.
  • If an Order of Restitution is given, and the police tell you to leave your home, then leave. You will fare better fighting the landlord later instead of trying to fight a court order.
  • It cannot be emphasized enough: ACT FAST. Reference this page if you need to refer back to your rights, procedures, or resources for an eviction case.
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