Utah Landlord & Tenant Rights

By David Carnes
Utah's landlord tenant law, other states
apartment for rent image by dead_account from Fotolia.com

Landlord-tenant disputes are among the most common of all legal disputes. The landlord-tenant relationship is governed by the terms of the lease and landlord-tenant law. Most landlord-tenant law is state law rather than federal law. Although Utah landlord-tenant law has its own unique features, it fairly similar to landlord-tenant law in other states.

Deposits

Under Utah law, a landlord must return the tenant's deposit within 30 days after the tenant moves out, or within 15 days after receiving the tenant's new address (whichever comes later). Landlords may keep any portion of the deposit necessary to compensate them for damage to the property (excepting normal wear and tear), cleaning, unpaid rent, and other reasonable expenses as set out in the lease. The landlord should list all deductions in writing, although this is not a strict legal requirement.

Repair and Maintenance

Landlords must make all major repairs (such as plumbing or wiring), and are responsible for maintaining common areas such as hallways and elevators. Tenants are generally responsible for all other repairs, and are responsible for repairing anything damaged through their own negligence. If the premises are defective before the tenant moves in, the landlord may evade responsibility for repair and maintenance only if the lease specifies that the tenant accepts the property with the defects. Local ordinances provide much more detailed repair and maintenance requirements.

Landlord Entry

Landlords do not have free access to a property once they have rented it out. Except for emergencies, the landlord must give the tenant 24 hours notice before entering the property, and must have an acceptable reason for doing so (inspection or repairs, for example). However, a landlord is free to enter the property if the tenant has abandoned it, even if the lease has not expired. Under Utah law, a landlord may assume abandonment and re-enter the property if the tenant leaves without paying rent and the landlord does not know his whereabouts, even if the tenant has left property behind. The landlord may also assume abandonment without waiting 15 days if the tenant becomes overdue on rent payment and removes his property from the property.

Eviction

There are two main justifications for eviction under Utah law--non-payment of rent and criminal nuisance. The length of time that rent must be unpaid to justify the commencement of eviction procedures should be set forth in the lease. Criminal nuisance includes committing serious crimes or crimes that affect the health and safety of other tenants, and threatening violence against the landlord. In order to evict, the landlord must send an eviction notice. If the tenant fails to comply, the landlord must file a lawsuit, wait for the tenant to respond, and win the case. Eviction must be carried out by state authorities, not the landlord.

Housing Discrimination

Housing discrimination in Utah is governed by both state and federal law. It is illegal for a landlord to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, handicap, family status (by refusing to rent to single or divorced people, for example) or source of income.

About the Author

David Carnes has been a full-time writer since 1998 and has published two full-length novels. He spends much of his time in various Asian countries and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. He earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of Kentucky College of Law.