Utah currently has around 285,000 renters statewide out of a population of approximately 3.27 million. Regarding the average residential monthly rental cost, potential renters can expect to pay around $1,513 for a one-bedroom apartment in Salt Lake City and $1,831 for a two-bedroom pad.
The real estate market in Utah is currently in a state of flux: the value of residential sales is rising in the state, but the last few months have simultaneously seen a significant drop in the number of sales completed.
These twin factors are pushing more people into renting - the state is seeing a substantial increase in the number of individuals and families looking for rental properties rather than seeking a mortgage. There's also been a spike in the number of landlords offering apartments to rent. Subsequently, more people than ever before, both renters and new landlords, are having to get to grips with the landlord-tenant laws in Utah.
Is Utah a Landlord Friendly State?
Utah has long attracted property investors as it's one of the most landlord-friendly states in the US. It has, generally speaking, a great economy, high rates of employment, a low crime rate, and a low cost of living compared to other states.
Utah does not enforce rent control or limit fees, and landlords can evict problem tenants fairly quickly. There are, however, a few business practices that landlords must abide by, which may not be present in other states. Overall, however, Utah is a very landlord-friendly state.
The Landlord's Responsibilities
Landlords-tenant laws in Utah provide a comprehensive framework of rights and responsibilities designed to protect both parties.
As a landlord, an individual or organization is required to:
- Engage in open communication with their tenants and resolve any arising issues quickly.
- Give a tenant at least twenty-four hours' notice, unless in the event of an emergency, before entering the property.
- Maintain the property in compliance with the health and safety code of Utah.
- Give proper notice in the event of any change being made to the rental terms or associated policies.
- Follow legal eviction procedures and processes.
- Serve the tenant a Notice to Vacate document if the lease is terminated early.
In general, the landlord is expected to behave fairly and transparently in all dealings with their tenant and behave in a reasonable manner.
The Tenant's Responsibilities
The landlord-tenant laws in Utah work both ways. Tenants must:
- Comply with the rental agreement and associated policies.
- Pay the agreed-upon amount of rent on the agreed dates.
- Maintain accurate records regarding the names and contact information of the residents dwelling within the rented property.
- Behave respectfully towards their neighbors and not impinge upon their neighbors' right to enjoy their own properties peacefully.
- Not engage in any unlawful behavior while within the rented property.
- Properly dispose of waste and keep the unit clean and clear of trash.
- Report any dangers or hazards arising within the property to the landlord immediately.
- Keep the unit in the same condition as when they first moved in.
Utah Rental Laws
Rent and Payment Laws
The rental agreement forms a binding legal contract between the landlord and the tenant and will include the amount of rent payable by the tenant and the dates on which these payments will be made.
In terms of the law, there is no statute in the state governing when or how this amount should be paid, and no rent controls are in place limiting the landlord's ability to set the price of a rental unit or to increase it. If a landlord wishes to raise the rent, they are not required to give the tenant advanced notice - although, of course, it is good practice to do so.
In Utah, there is also no law limiting the amount of money that a landlord can request in the rental agreement as a security deposit, and no requirement for this deposit to accumulate interest over time. A security deposit is an amount of money a landlord can request from the tenant at the start of the lease; the landlord can put these funds towards unpaid rent or utility bills or to cover any damages to the property caused by the tenant that is beyond a reasonable level of wear and tear.
However, landlords must return the security deposit (where relevant) within thirty days of the tenant leaving the property at the end of the rental period.
Landlords are free to charge late fees, under the landlord-tenant laws in Utah, if a tenant is late paying their rent. There is also no limit on the amount that a landlord can charge in late fees.
Some landlords, however, choose to allow their tenants a grace period in the event of a late payment. Where this is the case, if the tenant can pay the rent owed within the set grace period, they won't incur any late fees.
Under Utah's eviction laws, there are several circumstances in which a landlord can legally evict a tenant, such as:
- Where there has been a non-payment of rent.
- If the rental agreement/terms of the lease have been violated.
- Where the rental period has ended, but the tenant remains in possession of the property without the landlord's consent.
- In the case of illegal activity being conducted on the property.
- If they have allowed any nuisance to be carried out on the property.
Where any of these incidents have occurred, the landlord must give the tenant three days' written notice before beginning an eviction suit. In cases regarding unpaid rent, or a violation of the lease terms, the tenant can halt the eviction process if they resolve the breaches within the three-day period.
Evicting a tenant in Utah can’t be initiated and actioned via self-help methods. It's important to note that it's illegal for landlords to try to evict a tenant themselves, even where the above has occurred by, for example, locking the tenant out of the property or shutting off the utilities.
If the tenant still fails to leave the property, then the necessary official papers need to be served, and ultimately, the case will go to court. If the judge decides in the landlord's favor, a Judgment for Possession will be granted, and an Order of Restitution will be immediately served to the tenant, who will be given three days to vacate the property.
In Utah, when the tenancy expires, the tenant can terminate the lease. Where tenants pay monthly rent, they must give the landlord fifteen days' notice if they wish to end the tenancy early. Tenants who rent on a week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter, or year-to-year stature are not required to give any advanced notice.
There are other ways, however, that a tenant can terminate their tenancy early, such as in cases where the landlord has breached the terms of the rental agreement or where an early termination clause is included in the agreement. If a tenant is called up for military duty, this, too, gives them the right to end their tenancy early.
Is a Written Rental Agreement Required?
Utah renting laws require a written rental agreement to be in place for any leases longer than twelve months. However, it's highly recommended that a formal rental agreement be put in place for any leases, no matter how short their duration, to protect the interests of both the landlord and the tenant.
In Utah, the rental agreement must, by law, include the following details:
- The name and address of the property's owner.
- Conditions for repairs.
- Address and description of the property to be leased.
- Conditions regarding the paying of rent, such as the amount to be paid, due date, grace periods, and the presence of any late fees.
- Conditions regarding entry.
- The amount of the security deposit required and its return policy.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act of Utah is designed to prevent discrimination in terms of access to rental properties and the manner in which tenants are treated based on color, race, religion, gender, disability, national origin, source of income, familial status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
There's no law in Utah against allowing pets in a rental property, so, as a landlord, the decision is entirely up to you. The potential damage or increased wear and tear to a property needs to be weighed against the fact that around 70% of households in the US have pets - so not allowing them could result in ruling out a significant number of potential renters.
Utah Renting Laws Unique to the State
In the state of Utah, there are several mandatory disclosures that a tenant must make before a prospective tenant signs the lease agreement. These are regarding:
- The presence of lead-based paint on the property if it was built after 1978.
- Pre-existing damages to the property: the potential tenant must be supplied with an itemized list including all the relevant details.
- Detail of any authorized agents regarding the management and ownership of the property.
The landlord is also legally required to provide the potential new tenant with a written copy of the lease. There are new laws potentially coming into force in Utah within the next few years, too, which could see controls put on short-term (under twelve months) leasing. This bill is currently in debate.
Protect Yourself with Landlord Insurance
Landlord insurance is specifically designed to cover properties that are rented out. It offers cover in the event of damage from events such as fire, flood, wind, lightning, hail, and electric/gas malfunctions. Also, it offers indemnity protection should someone be injured on the property. Plus, should the rental unit become temporarily uninhabitable, the landlord's insurance can protect you against resultant business losses.
As a landlord, getting the right type of insurance in place is vital, both to protect your property and your peace of mind. Landlords insurance can do both of these things, so you can relax knowing that if the worst happens, you're covered.