Last fall, a suicidal Provo woman was evicted from her apartment complex by her landlord. Her roommates allegedly turned her into the property manager, and she was given the notice to vacate because she had violated her lease contract. She is now suing the manager, the landlord and the company that owns the apartments.
The case illustrates how challenging the rental business can be right now. Colleges and universities around the state are virtually out of any available student housing. They are telling students to ask parents and friends if they could rent a room since affordable rentals have become ridiculously hard to come by. Yes, cranes are up everywhere, and developers are building housing faster than you can say "Got a vacancy?" But the rental market remains tight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a partial moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The protection from evictions has been extended twice, with the most recent order extended through July 31, 2021. The CDC has indicated that this is the last time the moratorium will be extended. It covers all of Utah, all landlords or owners of residential property and evictions for nonpayment of rent. Other kinds of evictions (nuisance, lease violation) are still allowed.
The protection under the eviction moratorium is not automatic. If you cannot pay rent, you must sign a declaration and give it to your landlord. Each person on the lease also needs to sign a declaration. You can go to utahcourts.gov to get a PDF of a declaration form. You can give the declaration to your landlord at any time prior to being evicted by the sheriff. Landlords who want to know their rights can get eviction information from the same website.
If your rent payments are taking up more and more of your monthly income, you are considered "cost burdened." Certain programs offered through Utah Community Action provide rental assistance and help pay power and gas bills for income-eligible households (HEAT). The Utah Housing Coalition also can provide suggestions for rental help, but they mostly advocate for Utah's rental population.
It will be interesting to see what the courts find in the Provo suicide eviction case. Not only that, but as the thousands of rentals under construction get completed, will monthly rents come down? Probably not, as Utah has been discovered as a great place to live and work.
I'm excited to see Salt Lake's first-ever "shipping container" building at 543 S. 500 West. The 83 units will supposedly offer rents ranging from the low $800s to $1,200 per month, and tenants have to prove they are earning 60% or less of the city's median income. The smaller studio apartments are the size of a hotel room, but there are also one- and two-bedrooms units. To get on the prospective tenant list, phone 385-427-6683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.