How to get an eviction off your record in Utah
By Eric S. Peterson, Silvia Nuila and Frank Regalado
The following was funded by The Economic Hardship Reporting Project and reported by The Utah Investigative Journalism Project in partnership with the Salt Lake City Weekly.
Have you ever been evicted? Do you wish it never happened? Thanks to a new law in Utah, you might be able to make it disappear from your record. It’s not a crime to get evicted. But having an eviction on your record can be as bad as having a crime on your record. It can hurt your credit score, making it harder for you to get a loan for a car or to get into your dream home.
But state law allows Utahns to expunge an eviction from their records; in other words, evictees can wipe the slate clean as if it never happened. Even better? There’s no cost to do it. We hope this guide will help explain it in simple terms. For additional help, contact info for free eviction resources is included at the end of this article. It’s helpful to think of the process as having three important stages. The “Before,” “During,” and “After” stages. So, let’s begin!
“Can my eviction be erased?”
If you got evicted because your landlord said you broke apartment rules, the record can’t be erased.
For example: if you were smoking, had people stay at the apartment without permission from the landlord or didn’t keep your place clean. Same goes for breaking the law. If you were evicted for not paying rent, you qualify. If you stayed past your lease—meaning the lease said you had to leave in January and you didn’t leave until February or later—then you also qualify to have the eviction erased. In these cases, it doesn’t matter how old the eviction was.
You’ll also need to prove that you paid off your debt.
You can visit the Utah Courts’ Self Help Center by visiting utcourts.gov/selfhelp, or by calling (888)-683-0009. Ask if they can check your eviction court record to see if the court docket says the judgment was satisfied. They can also tell you which court and judge to send the paperwork to.
Here are the forms you’ll need to start the process of removing the eviction from your record. The first is a civil cover sheet.
This is your basic application to the court. It’s two pages long. On page one, you fill in your info on the left as the “Plaintiff/Petitioner.” A petition is a written request to the court, so requesting an expungement means you are the petitioner. On the right side of the page is the side for the landlord, or the “Defendant/Respondent.” At the bottom of the first page and on the second page is a lot of info that doesn’t matter to you. Go to the bottom right corner of the second page and put a check next to “Expungement Petition.”
Now your next document is the “Petition to Expunge Eviction.” This is a simple two-page document with one question and one signature line, asking the court to erase the eviction. The other document is an “Order on Petition to Expunge Eviction.” This document you leave blank, and the court will fill in the details when you send it to them and they make a decision.
You send a copy of these two documents to the court. You also send a copy of the documents to your landlord.
You need to send the papers to your landlord so that they have the opportunity to challenge the expungement if they decide to. That leads to the last piece of paperwork. You need to file a “Proof of Service” with the court. This is just proof for the judge that the landlord was served the paperwork..
“How do I serve my past landlord with the eviction expungement paperwork?”
The easiest way is to just mail the paperwork to the landlord. But if you do, it must be certified mail with a return receipt requested. That way, the landlord has to sign for the letter upon receipt. The court will need to see the landlord’s signature as part of your proof of service.When the Civil Cover Sheet, the Petition to Expunge, the Order on Petition and Proof of Servicehave all been filed with the court and served on the landlord then it’s time to … wait.
Under the law, the landlord has 60 days to decide if they want to file an objection to your petition. Basically, they get a couple months to decide if they want to tell the court that your eviction record should not be erased.
If there is no objection, the judge will approve the expungement. Remember, the court needs to be able to get in touch with you. You should have given them an email and a good mailing address for yourself, or of someone who will keep an eye out for mail from the court for you. It is possible the judge may want you to appear in court. They may have a question about your petition or proof that you satisfied your judgment. It’s more likely, though, that if the landlord has no objection, then the judge won’t need to see you in court and can just approve the expungement on their own.
“OK, so my record was expunged! Is that it?”
Not quite. When it’s expunged, you will be notified. You need to hold onto that record! So keep proof that your eviction was expunged. That is your proof that you have a clean slate.
“So the eviction is gone from my record. But what if the landlord asks me straight up if I’ve been evicted before?”
If your case has been successfully expunged, it’s like it never happened. You are legally allowed to tell anyone that you have never been evicted.
Where to find more help
Utah Courts Self Help Center:utcourts.gov/en/self-help/categories/housing/landlord/expunge.html, (888)-683-0009
Utah Housing Coalition: Can help walk you through the process and find legal and other help. Utahhousing.org, 801-364-0077
The Legalese of Expungement
Civil Cover Sheet: Your basic application to the court to ask for expungement.
Expungement: Erasing your eviction record.
Satisfaction of Judgment: Paying your old eviction debts so you can expunge your eviction.
Petition: A written request, asking the court to do something.
Proof of Service: Document showing you sent your petition to your landlord. It could be in the form of a certified mail receipt.