SALT LAKE CITY — When a landlord has to evict a tenant from a rental property, the issues often involve more than late rent. And evictions are happening in Utah, despite an extension to a federal law made by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. The executive order left in place a federal moratorium on evictions due to the inability to pay.
Constable Travis Reitz, who works in Salt Lake and Utah counties, said the federal moratorium is protecting many tenants, and rental assistance is available.
But other problems, such as damage to property or safety issues, are routinely involved in the evictions in Utah that he and his deputies have had to deal with during the pandemic.
Evictions in Utah enforced for reasons other than rent
Reitz said one case he handled recently involved much more than late rent. The original tenants, he said, had moved out. “A sister-in-law and some of her friends had moved in illegally, and there were some gunshots the week before.”
An eviction will remove the housing from a tenant but not their belongings, Reitz said tenants are told how they can arrange to retrieve their furniture and other property.
He admits that evictions based solely on non-payment of rent haven’t been happening as much. “I have a stack of probably 80 eviction orders that I have not completed because they are just for rent. And so those sit in a box until one day the moratorium expires.”
Reitz expects some of those cases will be resolved before he has to tell tenants they have to leave.
Evictions for month-to-month renters
Tara Rollins with the Utah Housing Coalition says there are resources available to help tenants who’ve fallen behind on rent during the pandemic, but more education is needed to make sure people know about them.
And, she says, some landlords are finding ways around the federal moratorium, especially with tenants who’ve completed their leases and are now renting month-to-month.
“They are just not getting their leases renewed, and then they can terminate leases. So there are other ways to get people out besides just eviction for non-payment,” Rollins says.
Information about rental assistance programs in Utah is available here.
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