Evictions are up across the country but Utah is bucking the trend

Jun 22, 2023, 7:25 AM | Updated: 10:40 am

Rental rates...

A for rent sign is pictured in the Avenues in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 16, 2021. Rental prices in Utah have jumped 36% in the last three years, costing Utahns more than ever. Here's what experts have to say(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — As pandemic rent relief funding ends, states nationwide are dealing with spikes in eviction rates. But here in Utah, we’re back to where we were before pandemic funding began.

According to data from the Rental Housing Association of Utah, eviction filings in Utah reached 2,643 in the first four months of this year.

These first-quarter eviction numbers are higher than they have been over the past several years.

However, RHA reports that the end-of-the-year eviction rate will remain low because rental households have increased by 20,000 since 2019.

“We’re post-Covid now, and numbers are exactly where they were pre-Covid, at 2.3% of Utahns being evicted per year,” says Paul Smith, executive director of the RHA.

Pre-pandemic eviction rate

If the current 4-month trend continues, Utah would end up with a little over 8,000 evictions in 2023, creating an end-of-year eviction rate of  2.3%.

This would be the same as 2019 (2.3%) but still lower than 2018 (2.4%) and 2017 (2.5%).

Smith says one reason eviction rates are beginning to rise again is largely due to the end of federal pandemic rental relief funds.

“Utah saw an increase in evictions in 2022 due to a winding down of federal and state rental assistance programs and a lack of affordable housing.”

Increasing evictions nationwide

The $350 million the government gave out to help renters pay rent through the pandemic came to a halt in February. Dependency on these funds is causing difficulty for renters across the nation to keep their homes.

According to the Eviction Lab, some cities have current eviction filings that are 50% higher than their pre-pandemic average.

The RHA says a slight eviction spike happened this year because of increased reliance on federal assistance and a lack of preparation for when the program ended.

Here in Utah, the 2023 eviction rate is on track to be the same or lower than the three years leading up to the pandemic.

Why Utah’s eviction rate is different

Eviction laws in Utah are considered to be firmer than in other states.

“We have fair but firm laws, and renters know there are consequences of not resolving issues. That’s a reason why evictions have fallen so much,” explains Smith.

State laws hold renters accountable for failing to comply with rental agreements, and consequences are given after a renter refuses to work with or comply to the landlord’s requests.

15 years ago Utah tweaked its eviction laws.

Since then the eviction rate per capita has fallen 50% according to the RHA, which claims the decline is because our “firm but fair” laws work to avoid and prevent evictions.

“We are doing a phenomenal job of resolving issues without going to evictions,” Smith says.

Additionally, over the past several years the rental housing industry has worked with renter advocates and the Utah legislature to make eviction laws more tenant-friendly.

This includes changing the vacate notice process from calendar days to court days, expanding Utah’s Community Action’s eviction prevention specialist program from one person to four, and giving evicted renters a way to have their eviction expunged from their records.

Smith says this change allows evicted renters to get into better housing in the future, and repays the landlord for the money they lost.

“We’re a second chance society, we want to give second chances to people”

What to do if you receive an eviction notice

The RHA provides several suggestions on what to do if you receive an eviction notice.

  1. Call 211. Social services will further connect you with a housing counselor who can help you solve issues.
  2. Connect with the Utah Community Action. Their program includes deposit and emergency rental assistance, landlord-tenant mediation, and homeless services to help renters prevent and solve evictions.
  3. Reach out to your churches and community organizations. They often have funds to help renters get back on their feet and avoid evictions.

Smith says the number one thing to do is not freeze.

“If you’re being evicted, don’t freeze. Communicate. Reach out. try to resolve this. Because evictions can be very harsh and nobody likes evictions, not the landlords and not the tenants. You can avoid them if you just resolve it and communicate.”

Related reading: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Housing + Homelessness

house for sale, no money down house purchase...

Curt Gresseth

No money down to buy a house? It can be done, says agent

If you are planning to buy a house in Utah, but can't afford to put money down, there is a way to make that work, says a real-estate agent

2 days ago

Utah homeownership rates are decreasing, despite growth....

Adam Small

Utah homeownership rates decrease despite massive growth, study finds

Utah homeownership rates are dropping, even though the state is in the lead for homeownership in the nation.

6 days ago

Rendering of tiny home salt lake village...

Eric Cabrera

Organizers of future tiny home village for homeless hope to add prep school

Program directors developing a tiny home village for people experiencing homelessness plan to build a new prep school.

7 days ago

Ogden City wants to limit multifamily housing construction in commercial zones....

Tammy Kikuchi

Ogden City is considering restrictions to multifamily housing in commercial zones

Ogden officials want to limit multifamily housing construction in commercial zones, citing a lack of walkability, services, and recreation amenities.

19 days ago

A sign reading "For rent" in Salt Lake City on Feb. 10. The average amount of money a Utahn would n...


How much does a Utahn need to make to rent an average 2-bedroom unit?

In Utah, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is estimated at $1,398, according to Department of Housing and Urban Development data.

20 days ago

A view of the University of Utah, downtown Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake is visible from R...


Community advocates continue call for affordable housing in SEG/SLC plan

While Smith Entertainment Group works on its deal with Salt Lake City, some voices call for more to be done for affordable housing.

21 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Evictions are up across the country but Utah is bucking the trend