For many rental property owners, the easiest and most convenient way of dealing with landlord-tenant issues is through simple communication. There’s a good chance your tenant is behind on their rent for any number of perfectly legitimate reasons. There’s a good chance your tenant wasn’t entirely clear on the conditions of their lease. And there’s even a good chance that a firm but direct heart-to-heart conversation can give them the opportunity to reflect as to whether or not they should continue to live under your terms.
But you’re not their parent. You’re their landlord. And sometimes, you simply have no choice but to serve them with an eviction notice.
But when? Why? And most importantly, how do you write an eviction notice?
Serving Tenants With An Eviction Notice In Utah
Under Utah state law, only a landlord can serve tenants with an eviction notice. However, it’s also against the law for a landlord to intentionally evict a tenant for any reason without a court order; and that includes instances of criminal nuisance, including felony behavior, violence, theft and extensive property damage. Luckily, those acts are served by a mandatory three-day criminal nuisance eviction notice, which can be expedited by the court system without having to face any unnecessarily lengthy legal process. In fact, unless you knowingly allowed criminal activity to occur on your property, the chances of you being called to testify in court during any criminal proceedings is going to be fairly slim.
A tenant isn’t automatically evicted when a given time period runs out. Keep in mind that it’s a legal proceeding. And there are instances in which you may find yourself in a slow and sometimes irreconcilable court battle as a result of serving tenants with an eviction notice. Especially eviction notices that contain clauses for preventative actions, such as non payment of rent or failure to comply with the terms of a lease. In these instances, the same three day rule applies. But three days is rarely enough time to pay back several months of back rent—especially if there’s extenuating circumstances such as medical emergencies to attend to. If you’ve spoken with a tenant about grounds for eviction but only as a court of last resort due to repeated behavior, the Utah court system does have alternative dispute mediation services that can help you avoid lengthy and unnecessary court dates.
When Should You File An Eviction Notice
By and large, that’s going to be a personal judgement call. Ideally, you’ll find that it requires a great deal of tact and prior communication before being forced to serve a tenant with an eviction notice. And for the most part, tenants are more than happy to comply with the terms of your lease. But just how clear were the terms of your lease? Did you document in writing your explicit demands from a tenant? Were they aware there could be no frequent parties or noise complaints? Were they aware they could not sublet the property to a third party without your express permission? Did you clearly include a clause prohibiting property damage or renovation? Did you include an amendment indicating additional fees for late rent? These may seem like obvious stipulations. But they’re not always obvious to a tenant.
For the most part, evictions in Utah must be answered in no more than three days, with the exception of monthly tenancies (which give tenants a 15 day notice) and tenancies at will in which there’s no actual rental agreement, oral or written; the latter allowing for a five day notice to vacate your property. However, the actual process of filing through the courts can vary significantly, given the circumstances as well as the actual court system.
Should a tenant respond within an eviction notice’s given time, either party can file for an occupancy hearing within 10 business days. Keep in mind, however, that an occupancy hearing typically takes about 60 days to complete after a service of complaint and summons.
Reasonable grounds for eviction can include:
- Failure to pay rent or comply with the terms of a lease
- Subletting contrary to the terms of a contract
- A refusal to vacate after the sale of a property
- Criminal activity
- Non-criminal nuisance including frequent noise disturbances, disrupting the peace of other tenants or neighbors, frequent and unwelcome visitors, weapons violations against Utah state law and generally any act that disturbs the safety and peace of other tenants and neighbors
If you suspect any criminal activity or witness threats or actions of violence even prior to serving an eviction notice, contact the police immediately. You’ll find the courts are more than willing to expedite your filing.
How To File An Eviction Notice
Luckily, the process is as simple as serving a tenant with a court filed notice of eviction, which can be easily created using preexisting templates. There’s a great example of a relatively generic template here, while the Utah court system has existing notices available for violations including nuisance violations, subletting and unlawful business, among others.
In order to file a court prior to serving an eviction notice, Utah law requires the following:
- Any written rental agreement
- A copy of the eviction notice itself
- An itemized calculation of any past-due rent, damages or costs associated with the eviction
- An explanation of the factual basis for the eviction.
A notice to vacate must be delivered to any tenant personally, either by certified or registered mail or by attaching it to any noticeable place on the premises.
In cases of court proceedings for occupancy hearings, all eviction notices must be served with a copy of the summons and complaint, the eviction notice itself, a copy of any written rental agreement and a Notice of the URCP 26.3 Disclosure Requirements in Unlawful Detainer Action.