WE EDUCATE the public on the eviction and debt collection process, and the impact it can have on individuals and families. We help renters understand their rights under the current system, help them understand how to navigate the legal process and tips on negotiating with landlords and their representatives.
Answer: The Answer is how a renter responds to the Complaint & Summons. The deadline for filing an Answer is three 3 business days.
Default judgment: A renter “defaults” and the landlord automatically wins if the renter does not file an Answer OR if the renter or renter’s lawyer does not appear at the occupancy hearing. The court issues an order to evict the renter and orders the renter to pay money due to the landlord.
Occupancy hearing: A hearing in court where a judge will determine who has a right to be in the property.
Order of restitution: When a court issues this order, it gives the landlord the right to take back the rental unit from the renter on a specific date. If the renter has not vacated the property before that date, the landlord can ask the sheriff or constable to physically remove the renter from the property.
Summons & complaint: The Complaint will tell the renter why the landlord wants to evict them. The Summons will tell the renter how long they have to respond to the eviction.
Treble damages: Once a renter is in unlawful detainer, a landlord can begin to claim treble damages against the renter. Treble damages generally means three times the average daily rent for every day the renter stayed in the apartment after the notice to vacate expired.
The eviction process in Utah can be broken down into seven steps.
1. Agreement or Lease. The first step is entering into an agreement with a landlord. These agreements can be in writing (preferred) or verbal.
2. Problem or Termination. Generally a problem arises from the agreement. For example: not paying rent, a violation of the rental agreement, the renter breaks the law, etc. Sometimes an eviction is based on terminating a lease or a month-to-month agreement. This type of notice does not start with a problem, but is done under the terms of the lease or the law.
3. Eviction Notice. To evict a renter, a landlord must serve the renter with a notice to vacate. This notice gives the renter a specific amount of time to do what the notice says. If the renter does not follow the notice and remains at the property after the stated time period has passed, the renter is in "unlawful detainer". Once a renter is in unlawful detainer a landlord can begin to claim treble damages against the renter.
4. Eviction Lawsuit. If the renter does not comply with the notice to vacate within the stated time period in the notice, they may then be served with a Summons & Complaint. These are court documents that alert the renter that their landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against them.
5. Responding to Court Documents. To respond to the Summons & Complaint, a renter must file an Answer. This is how the renter explains to the court why they should not be evicted. After receiving a Summons & Complaint, a renter has three (3) business days to file an Answer. If a renter does not file an Answer, the landlord wins the eviction lawsuit and the court will issue a default judgment against the renter. If a renter files an Answer, the landlord will request an occupancy hearing.
6. An Occupancy Hearing. If the renter files an Answer and either side requests a hearing, the court will hold an occupancy hearing within 10 business days.
Landlord Wins if:
(1) Renter or renter’s lawyer does not appear at the hearing; or (2) Court determines the renter violated the lease and did not comply with the notice to vacate.
If the landlord wins, an Order of Restitution will be granted and signed by a judge. If the renter or renter’s lawyer does not appear at the hearing, the court will issue a default judgment against the renter which will include an Order of Restitution.
Renter Wins if:
(1) Renter can prove that they did not violate the lease as the landlord claimed; (2) Renter can prove they complied with the notice to vacate; or (3) Renter can prove that the landlord did not follow the laws and procedural rules in the eviction process.
7. Hearings and Trial. If the landlord wins, another hearing will be scheduled to determine how much money the renter owes their landlord. If the parties agree, they will generally work out a payment plan or other settlement terms. If the parties do not agree, then the case will be set for a trial to determine the amounts of money owed.
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