Note: The information in this article was compiled by attorneys in the Access to Justice Office of the Utah State Bar. It was compiled based upon the laws of the State of Utah. The information contained here should not be construed as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship. Each situation is different and you should consult an attorney prior to taking any action
What to do if you're facing an eviction
Receiving an eviction notice is a nerve-racking event and provokes a stream of questions like: What does it mean? Can I avoid it? What happens to me if I can’t fix it? Who can I talk to about it? Let’s take a look at these questions and hopefully relieve some of the worry that comes from not knowing what might happen.
First there are several different types of notices that a landlord can give a tenant. Most require the tenant to pay the rent or comply with the lease within three days (calendar days, not working days) or move out. You can see a list of possible eviction notices here:
The notice you received will tell you exactly what needs to be done prior to the deadline on the notice. Some, for example, will require you to pay the rent and any late fines. Some may require you to stop or start doing something that is listed in your lease agreement. If you are able to comply with the notice, you will have saved the lease from “forfeiture.” This simply means that if you do what is required by the notice, you will not have to move out, nor will the landlord be able to evict you at that time.
A 15-day notice to vacate, is the way a landlord ends a rental agreement when there is no set end date in the lease. This frequently occurs when there is an original lease agreement for a set period of time, and the tenant stays longer than the stated time in the lease. If the lease requires that more than 15 days notice be given, then the landlord will have to provide the longer notice period that is stated in the lease agreement.
You can avoid some notices by complying with them. You can pay the stated rent or fine that the notice claims is unpaid, you can bring yourself into compliance with the lease, or you can do what the notice is asking you to do prior to the eviction period. If you are unable to pay the rent or bring yourself into compliance, you may not be able to avoid the notice and may be evicted.
If you are unable to comply with the eviction notice, you will be considered to be “unlawfully detaining” the property. This means that you no longer have a right to be in the property, but the landlord cannot forcefully remove you until after there has been a court process. The process starts with the landlord filing a complaint. The complaint has to state the amount of money owed to the landlord, and the facts that describe how the tenant came to unlawfully detain the property (why the tenant is being evicted).
The landlord must serve the tenant the complaint and, unless the information is in the complaint, must also include the lease agreement, the eviction notice, and what notice of what the tenant must disclose. Once you receive the complaint, you will have three days to respond. This is a very short period of time, and you must comply with the rules of civil procedure when you respond. Here is a link to the court’s website that has sample documents at the bottom of the site:
You can request a hearing when you file your answer, and that hearing will be within 10 days after the day that you file the answer. If the judge determines that a trial is necessary, the trial will be scheduled within 60 days after the day you received the complaint, unless you and the landlord agree to a different date.
It is vitally important to consider the impact of delaying a hearing or any part of the eviction process, because the landlord may be entitled to more than just the past rent and fines. Utah law allows the landlord to seek three times the actual damages that begin to accrue once the tenant is unlawfully detaining the property. So if you were given a 3 day notice on the 5th, and do not pay the back rent, then on the 9thyou will be unlawfully detaining the property. Assuming the landlord sends you the complaint on the 9th, you have 3 business days to answer and request a hearing. If you answer 3 days later, on the 12th, and the court schedules a hearing 10 days later on the 22nd you may be considered to have “unlawfully detained” the property from the 9thto the 22nd. If you take three more days (allowable by law) to move out after the hearing, you now have been unlawfully detaining the property for 17 days.
Here is a possible calculation of what the landlord may ask for, just in rent damages while a tenant is unlawfully detaining the property:
If the rent is $1500 per month. The daily rent amount is 1500 divided by the days in the month. If we use December, then the daily rent amount is $48.39 (1500/31).
If you are unlawfully detaining the property for the 17 days, you multiply the daily rent amount by 17 and then multiply it by 3 (because the landlord is entitled to three times the damages). Thus, the total amount in just rent (not including other late fines) that the landlord could seek is 48.39 x 17 x 3 = $2467.89.
Additionally, the landlord can require the tenant to pay for his or her attorney’s fees. This amount ranges depending on the lawyer, but will add hundreds of dollars to the total you may be required to pay to the landlord.
There are several entities that you can contact to discuss your situation:
You can contact us in the Access to Justice Office of the Utah State Bar at 801-397-7049 or by emailing email@example.com.
You can contact Utah Legal Services through their website at
You can also read information related to the eviction process on their website here:
You can apply to be represented by an attorney through the Modest Means program. This program is restricted by an individual’s income. It is not a free attorney, but the attorneys that work with this program have agreed to charge either $50 or $75 an hour. You can apply to this program at