Covid-19 has caused tension and confusion when it comes to the rights and laws on evictions. Until July 31, 2021 tenants may be protected under the CDC moratorium. This protection is for nonpayment of rent; a tenant can still be evicted (through the normal process) for nuisance, lease violation, etc.
To be protected under the CDC moratorium, the tenant must complete and sign a declaration which is then presented to the landlord. This program is set to terminate on July 31, 2021; although it has been extended several times since it first began. (See Utah.gov for more information) After July 31, there is no prohibition for eviction of tenants for non-payment of rent.
Under CDC moratorium, rent is not forgiven – merely deferred – and landlords can still charge late fees and penalties to any tenant behind on their payment.
While the current deadline for the CDC moratorium protection is nearing an end (if not extended again), do not pursue evictions until you are certain they are not prohibited. Failure to comply with the CDC moratorium can result in fines up to $250,000 and up to one year in jail, so there can be serious consequences to noncompliance.
Once the moratorium has ended, confirm you follow the legally required eviction procedure when evicting a tenant. Please note Utah courts have issued separate procedures before a landlord can evict a tenant. This entails completing a COVID Eviction Declaration, serving it on the tenant as required by law, and filing it when you start your eviction case. To find more information on this requirement, read the Administrative Order of the Supreme Court attached here: https://www.utcourts.gov/alerts/docs/20201002%20%20Amended%20Pandemic%20Administrative%20Order.pdf
Utah Emergency Rental Assistance Program:
If you prefer to not evict an otherwise good tenant, you can guide them in obtaining relief (for you and them) through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. It was designed for this exact situation, where a tenant has been a good tenant, takes care of the premises and paid well, up until they encountered a COVID related hardship. This program began on March 15, 2021 to assist tenants who are struggling with their rent obligations. To qualify for this program the tenant must have;
- Combined household income at or below 80% of the area median income where they reside.
- Someone in the household who qualified for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship due to Covid-19.
- Household experiencing housing instability (received past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice, or living in unsafe or unhealthy living conditions) due to Covid-19.
- Applicant resides in the household and is on the lease.
If your tenant meets the four requirements above, assistance can be applied for online at: https://rentrelief.utah.gov/ by either the property owner or the tenant. Documentation is needed (from both parties); communication is key to this procedure. The documents which must be provided are:
- Full lease agreement (all pages)
- A copy of the landlord’s W-9 or landlord contact information
- A ledger from the landlord showing outstanding rent and/or other fees
- Income Certification from the Tenant
- 2020 1040 tax form (or W-2, 1099, K-1, etc.)
- Tenant’s recent paystubs (30 days)
- Unemployment insurance weekly payment history (if applicable)
- Past-due utility bill (if applicable)
- Eviction notice (if applicable)
Our office is happy to assist you with applying for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Give us a call at 801-612-9299 for more information.
You and the tenant must be aware the program does not cover all costs of housing. The program only covers the following:
- Current rent plus 3 months of prospective rent (with a termed lease) [so long as the lease agreement includes the prospective period];
- Past-due rent;
- Eligible fees;
- Security deposit; and
- Utilities, internet and home energy costs (such as gas and electricity).
If all else fails and you need to evict a tenant, please don’t do it alone. We are happy to assist you in this process. Call our office at 801-612-9299 for more information and assistance.
Mention this blog and get 10% off your total price of your eviction.