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Do I need to register as a landlord or register the property I am renting out?
It is important to contact the municipality where your rental unit is located. There are some locations that require either landlord registration or unit registration or both. The Utah Apartment Association has initiated state legislation that enforces  a “Good Landlord Program” in eleven cities. This has been implemented to reduce the crime rates that have been increasing in cities with large volumes of rental properties. Check to see if your city is one of the eleven by contacting your township or city hall.

 

What criteria do I need to know when conducting a credit check on an applicant? Is there a limit on how much to charge for a background screening?

It is very important to get to know and understand Fair Housing regulations. In the state of Utah, “source of income” is considered  a “protected class” in addition to the federal descriptions. What this means is that a landlord may not discriminate based on the type of income an individual receives or earns as long as it is legal. For instance, if you have a perspective tenant who receives disability income from the Government and qualifies in all other ways; you cannot reject this applicant based on the source of the income. PLEASE NOTE: There are many locales within Utah that have two additional protected classes, specifically “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. Utah does not possess any stated limits on the amount that may be charged for an application fee.

 

Is there a limit on the amount I may collect for a security deposit?

There are no asserted statutes that limit the amount a landlord may charge a tenant for a security deposit. If any monies are taken as a non-refundable fee/deposit, it must be in writing and agreed to by both landlord and tenant.

After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send the security deposit back?

A landlord must send a written notification to the tenant within 30 days after the tenant moves out of the residence. This is sent to the tenant’s forwarding address; if the forwarding address is not known or provided, then it will be mailed to the last known address which is most likely the rental units’ address.

The landlord will send a tenant one of four types of notices:

     1. the full security deposit remittance.

     2. partial refund along with a written statement of deductions.

     3. no refund along with a written statement of deductions.

     4. no refund along with a written statement of deductions and a balance due.

 

When my tenant has not paid his rent on time, may I charge a late fee and how much can I charge?

Utah’s law does not specifically contain language that limits the amount of money a landlord can charge for a late fee. The amount that is charged should not be so much it is considered a penalty but rather more closely related to any costs incurred by the landlord when the tenant is late in rent. Whatever the amount a landlord decides to charge must be contained in the lease.

 

The rent payment I received was not honored by the bank. Can I charge a fee for this?

First thing a landlord must do is to notify tenant that the payment has been returned. The landlord may charge no more than a twenty dollar fee but the tenant must be notified first in a manner specified under the Title 7 Financial Institutions Act (Chapter 15, Section 2).

 

What are the rules for ending a Utah lease agreement?

Generally speaking, the lease will determine how and when a lease will end. When a lease is void of any terms and conditions on how to end a lease, at least fifteen days advance notice  is needed by either party to end the lease. Otherwise the lease continues.

 

What happens if a tenant does not vacate the premises after the ending of our contract?

If the tenant is still residing at the apartment without authorization of the landlord, then the landlord may begin proceedings or an action for possession. A landlord may not  just change the locks, remove a tenant’s personal things or forcibly remove a tenant by himself. There are specific notices that must be sent; court procedures to follow and timeframes to go by.

 

How do I let a tenant know that they will be evicted?

In Utah, there are three types of evictions; a failure to pay, failure to comply or a nuisance violation. Each of these would require the tenant be given notification of three days. Except in nuisance situations which is when a tenant or their guests commit a crime or create a public nuisance, the tenant will have the opportunity to fix the situation. This means either pay any monies due or change the behavior in a failure to comply situation. At the end of three days, if the tenant does not either fix the situation or move out, then the landlord may start the legal procedure called an unlawful detainer action in the local courthouse. In counting the three days, you skip the actual day of service, and count three calendar days starting the day after service.
 

My tenant wants to pay his rent but I have already filed in court. Can I accept a partial payment and still proceed with eviction?

If a landlord accepts part of the rent, even though the lawsuit may commence, there is a chance that a judge may not permit the suit to follow through. This may be considered a waiver of the landlord’s right to proceed with the eviction, so it is advisable to always consult with an attorney before accepting a partial payment.

 

How long does it usually take for eviction?

In the state of Utah, eviction can be a fairly quick legal process, although the timing can vary. But in many cases the entire process from serving notice to court proceedings can take as little as one month.

 

What do I do with the tenant’s personal items that are left behind?

If there is significant evidence to substantiate that a tenant has abandoned the rental unit and his personal effects, the landlord may enter the unit without a court order to remove the tenants personal property, repair and prepare the unit, and re-rent it to someone else. The landlord may remove the tenant’s personal belongings and store them at the tenant’s expense. The landlord MUST make every reasonable attempt to contact the tenant to notify the tenant where his/her belongings are. After 15 days have gone by after making these contact attempts, the landlord may sell the property and apply the money to what is owed, donate the property or dispose of the property in any way deemed necessary. IF the tenant was a victim of domestic violence, was hospitalized, or has passed away; a request may be made in writing by the tenant along with proof of the situation to have an additional fifteen days to remove the items. A tenant may remove his own medical equipment, prescription drugs, identification to qualify for government benefits, and/or clothing within five days.

 

How can I get access to inspect the rental unit?  Is it mandatory to notify the renter?

The landlord has the right to enter the property at reasonable times, when proper notice has been given to the tenant, unless in cases of emergency. The tenant may require 24 hours’ advance notice to be given before entrance again unless an emergency.

 

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?

In the state of Utah, the Landlord may instill a policy of no-smoking.


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