On November 1st a new eviction procedure rule approved by the Utah Courts went into effect. (If you would like to read the full rule it is called Utah Rule of Civil Procedure 26.3). The media quickly trumped that “avoiding frivolous evictions [is] about to get easier for tenants in Utah”. While this might be true, the impact probably won’t be too big since there are actually few frivolous evictions.
In essence the new rule requires that the owner/ landlord/ property manager must now provide to the tenants the following at least 48 hours before the eviction:
- Any written rental agreement
- The eviction notice that was served
- Itemized calculation of rent, damages, and attorney fees as of filing, and a ledger showing itemized breakdown of all charges and payments
- A factual basis for the eviction (usually outlined in eviction notices)
- “The name and, if known, the address and telephone number of each fact witness the plaintiff may call at the occupancy hearing and, except for an adverse party, a summary of the expected testimony.”
- Notice to the tenant of their disclosure obligations
If you are using an attorney for your evictions, all of those things except the last one were already happening – and your attorney will take care of that for you. If you are not using an attorney, you can still do an eviction on your own - but this new rule will mean that you have to be even more careful that you follow the process carefully or risk the case being thrown out. Ideally you should send all of these documents listed above along with the summons and complaint.
However, this new process cuts both ways. You have to provide tenants all of the information that you will use against them in the hearing beforehand, and they will have to provide you all of the information that they might use as a defense beforehand as well.
What happens if a Party fails to comply with this New Rule? The judge has final say, but this can lead to the non-compliant party’s evidence or testimony being thrown out of court. So far it is expected that this new rule will actually end up helping more landlords than it hurts, but only time will tell. We will keep you updated if there are any new developments.
If you have questions about these new procedures contact your attorney or call the UAA at 801-487-5619.