Utah Eviction Process
November 15, 2023
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Eviction In Utah
If you own and rent properties in the state of Utah, you are responsible for complying with Utah eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Utah.
Utah’s eviction laws can be found at US § 78B-6-801 to 78B-6-816.
Eviction Process in Utah
- Landlord serves a three-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a summons.
- Tenant files an answer.
- Landlord and tenant attend the occupancy/evidentiary hearing.
- Landlord and tenant attend the eviction hearing (if necessary).
- Tenant gets three days to move out.
- Sheriff returns to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Utah, tenants may be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating the lease, holding over after the lease expires, or engaging in illegal activity on the premises.
1. Landlord Serves a Three-Day Eviction Notice
The first step in the Utah eviction process is sending a formal notice. If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must serve a Utah eviction notice and state that the lease will terminate in three days. In some cases, the landlord is required to provide the tenant an opportunity to pay rent/damages or otherwise “cure” the violation. There are three possible eviction notices in Utah:
- Rent Demand Notice: 3 business days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, Utah landlords may deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than three business days after receipt of the notice) (US § 78B-6-802(c)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 3 calendar days to cure or quit. If a tenant violates a lease term, the landlord must deliver this notice stating the breach and what is required to remedy it, as well as the date on which the lease will terminate if the tenant does not cure the breach (not less than three calendar days after receipt of the notice) (US § 78B-6-802(h)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 3 calendar days to quit. This notice gives no opportunity to “cure” the violation and applies if the tenant does any of the following on the leased premises as per US § 78B-6-802(d-g):
- Assigns or sublets the property against the lease
- Commits or permits waste on the premises
- Sets up or carries out unlawful business at the premises
- Suffers, permits, or maintains any nuisance on the premises
- Commits a criminal act on the premises
Eviction notices must be served in one of the following manners:
- Personal delivery to the tenant
- Sending a copy of the notice to the tenant at the rental address or place of business through registered or certified mail
- If the tenant is absent, by leaving a copy with a person of suitable age and discretion at the leased premises or place of business
- If no one is available at the unit, by posting a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
The next step of the Utah eviction process is filing a complaint in court. If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord files an eviction complaint in the Utah District Court. Utah landlords can use the Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP) to prepare the complaint form and other court documents.
The complaint includes:
- The facts on which the landlord seeks to recover possession
- Any circumstances of fraud, force, or violence by the tenant
- A claim for damages and/or compensation for the occupation
- The amount of rent and other amounts due (for nonpayment cases)
The landlord will also be required to pay a filing fee at this time, the amount of which varies depending on how much money (unpaid rent, fees, etc.) the lawsuit is claiming:
- For claims ≤ $2,000, the filing fee is $90
- For claims $2,000 > $10,000, the filing fee is $200
- For claims ≥ $10,000, the filing fee is $375
Any time after filing the complaint but before the final judgment is entered for a nonpayment case, the landlord may choose to file a possession bond. Possession bonds expediate the eviction process and allow the landlord to take back possession of the rental unit early, but they must file a bond to cover the tenant’s damages in case the tenant is wrongfully removed. The judge approves the amount of the bond, which may be in the form of a corporate bond, a cash bond, certified funds, or a property bond, payable to the clerk of the court. This bond is deposited with the court and held in trust until the case concludes. If the landlord wins, the court will return the money upon request (US § 78B-6-808(1-2)).
After filing a possession bond, the landlord is required to notify the tenant in the same manner of service as the summons. The tenant must also be given information about all the alternative remedies and procedures available (US § 78B-6-808(3)). These remedies include paying all due rent within three calendar days to dismiss the complaint or executing and filing a counter bond with the court within three days to remain in possession of the property. The tenant may also demand and be granted a hearing within three days (US § 78B-6-808(4)).
If the tenant does not comply with any of the above remedies and does nothing, the landlord will be granted an Order of Restitution (downloadable here), and a constable or sheriff will remove the tenant and promptly return possession of the property to the landlord (US § 78B-6-808(5)). For this reason, filing a possession bond is likely a good idea when the landlord believes that the tenant will not respond to the summons or attempt to stop the eviction.
More instructions and information about possession bonds may be found on the UT courts website.
3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons
After filing a complaint for a typical case (not a possession bond), the court will issue a Summons (downloadable here) to be served to the tenant with a copy of the complaint. The summons indicates the date of the initial court hearing the tenant must attend, which is called the occupancy or evidentiary hearing. The occupancy hearing decides immediate possession only—the judge will decide at this hearing whether a full eviction trial is necessary.
The summons to attend the occupancy hearing also includes:
- The tenant’s name, address, and contact information
- The judicial district, county, and court address
- The landlord’s name
- The case number and judge
- A warning that if the tenant does not respond in writing by submitting an answer, the court will not consider their side and instead issue a default judgment in the landlord’s favor.
- The deadline to file the answer and attend court, which should be three business days from the date of service (unless the tenant requests longer)
- The address at which the tenant must email, mail, or hand deliver a copy of their answer to serve it upon the landlord.
- Resources from which the tenant can receive help
- The date and the landlord’s signature
The fee to have the sheriff serve the summons is $20, plus $2.50 per mile travelled to make the service (US § 17-22-2.5).
4. Tenant Files an Answer
If the tenant wants to contest the eviction, they must file a written answer with the court explaining why they shouldn’t be evicted. Tenants have three business days to do so from the day they receive the summons. If the tenant does not file an answer, a default judgment could be granted to the landlord without a hearing (US § 78B-6-807(3)(a)).
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend the Occupancy/Evidentiary Hearing
The occupancy or evidentiary hearing will be held ten days after the tenant files their written answer in court (US § 78B-6-810(2)(a)). If the landlord does not want to wait ten days, they need to file a possession bond (see above).
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge. The landlord needs to show that they were in actual and peaceable possession (or entitled to it) at the time of the forcible detainer (US § 78B-6-809(1)).
After both parties have presented their cases, the judge will decide whether the case can be decided right away or whether litigation will continue. If litigation will continue, the court will decide who has the right of occupancy while the case is pending and say whether the tenant may continue living in the unit during that time.
If no further trial is necessary, the judge will issue a judgment immediately (US § 78B-6-810(2)(b)).
6. Landlord and Tenant Attend the Eviction Hearing (If Necessary)
If the judge decides that a full eviction hearing is necessary, it will be held within 60 days of the day the complaint was filed (US § 78B-6-810(1)(b)). At this trial, there may be new evidence to present or further negotiation between the landlord and tenant.
If the judgment is in the landlord’s favor, the court will issue an Order of Restitution. This order directs the tenant to vacate the premises and remove their personal belongings or else be forcibly removed by a sheriff or constable. The constable or sheriff of the county serves this order to the tenant. If the tenant owes rent, judgment will also be entered against the tenant for three times the amount of damages assessed (US § 78B-6-811(3)).
7. Tenant Gets Three Days to Move Out.
After receiving the Order of Restitution, the constable or sheriff is then required to serve and execute it. They will deliver a copy of the order to the tenant’s residence at the rental unit and provide them at least three calendar days to move out (unless the court decides that a longer or shorter period is appropriate after finding out about extenuating circumstances) (US § 78B-6-812(1)).
For evictions based on criminal activity, the sheriff must usually remove the tenant immediately and does not need to provide a final notice period. However, the court may allow the tenant up to 72 hours to move out in some cases (US § 78B-6-810(d-e)).
The fee to have the sheriff serve and execute the Order of Restitution is $50 (US § 17-22-2.5(2)(i)).
8. Sheriff Returns to Forcibly Remove the Tenant.
If the tenant has not moved out within the time limit set by the court (usually three days), the sheriff will return to forcibly remove the tenant and restore possession of the property to the landlord (US § 78B-6-812(3(a))).
If the tenant leaves behind any personal property in the unit, it may be removed by the sheriff or constable and transported to a suitable location for safe storage. The sheriff may delegate responsibility for inventory, moving, and storage to the landlord, who must store the belongings in a reasonable place and manner and send the tenant a notice explaining how and where to retrieve their property.
The tenant cannot retrieve their property until they have paid all removal and storage costs in full. There are exceptions for certain kinds of property, which the tenant must have reasonable access to within five business days (US § 78B-6-812(3(c))). These includes:
- Financial documents, including those related to the tenant’s immigration or employment status
- Documents pertaining to the receipt of public services
- Medical information, prescription medications, and any medical equipment required for maintenance of medical needs.
The landlord is not required to store any of the following items:
- Chemicals, pests, or potentially dangerous or hazardous materials
- Gas, fireworks, combustibles, or explosives
- Perishable items
- Items that may create a hazardous condition or a pest control issue
If the tenant does not come to claim their property within 15 calendar days after sending notice, the landlord may do one of the following as per US § 78B-6-816(2):
- Sell the property at a public sale and apply the proceeds toward any amount the tenant owes
- Donate the property to charity if the donation is a commercially reasonable alternative
An extension up to 15 days may be granted if a tenant provides evidence of a protection order of domestic violence, an extended hospitalization, or a death certificate provided by an immediate family member US § 78B-6-816(7):
Evicting a Squatter in Utah
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Utah, squatters must have lived in the property, had color of title, and paid all property taxes for seven continuous years to invoke Utah squatters rights and claim right of possession (US § 78B-2-214). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Utah to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Utah, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Utah eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Utah Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Utah, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Action||Approximate Cost (District Court)|
|Filing fee||For claims ≤ $2,000: $90 For claims $2,000 > $10,000: $200 For claims ≥ $10,000: $375|
|Service of court summons by sheriff||$20, plus $2.50 per mile travelled|
|Service and execution of writ of possession||$50|
|Notice of appeal filing fee||$240|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Utah Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the Utah eviction process timeline. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||3 days|
|Tenant response period||3 business days after tenant receives summons|
|Occupancy or evidentiary hearing||10 days after Answer is filed|
|Eviction hearing||Within 60 days after complaint is filed|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||3 days|
|Time to quit after writ is posted (criminal activity)||Immediately to 72 hours|
|Storage period||15 days|
- Three Day Notice to Pay or to Vacate
- Three Day Notice to Comply with Lease or Vacate
- Three Day Notice to Vacate for Committing Criminal Act on the Premises
- Summons (Eviction Cases)
- Order of Restitution
- Eviction Information for Landlords – Information about eviction in Utah for landlords supplied by the Utah State Courts, including a list of court forms with downloadable pdfs and fillable versions.
- Utah Rules of Civil Procedure – This site includes the specific rules of civil procedure and court policies in Utah.
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Utah laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.