Most landlord/tenant relationships are in writing. However, many times tenant’s find themselves asking “can my landlord really do that?” There are some things a landlord cannot do, even if the lease says they can. If you rent real estate in Utah, either residential or commercial, here are five important things you should know:
- 24 Hour Notice. Every tenant has the right to quietly enjoy the property. This means the landlord cannot barge in any time she wants. In Utah a landlord must give a tenant at least 24 hours notice before entering the property, otherwise they are considered a trespasser.
- No Lockout. Even if a tenant’s rent is overdue, a landlord cannot change the locks, remove the tenant’s belongings, or physically prevent the tenant from entering the property. Eviction can only occur following a prescribed judicial process.
- Abandonment. The one exception to the “No Lockout” rule arises in cases where the tenant has abandoned the property. Abandonment is defined by Utah law, and can occur even if the tenant did not intend to abandon the property. Any tenant who will be away from the property for an extended period should notify the landlord IN WRITING and make sure the rent is paid on time.
- Bad Housing. Every residential rental property must meet certain minimum standards to be considered fit for human habitation. This generally includes functioning heat, plumbing, electricity, and freedom from unsafe conditions. A tenant who believes the property is bad should notify the landlord IN WRITING and request repairs. DO NOT STOP PAYING RENT!
- Discrimination. In Utah, as in most states, a landlord cannot refuse to rent due to a tenant’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, income or family status. A tenant who believes they have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the Utah Anti-discrimination & Labor Division.