I’m locked out!
If your landlord does not show you a court order, you cannot be locked out of your apartment or rental unit. If this happens to you, it is an illegal act and you should contact the police.
“What if the landlord does have a court order? Can I still get my belongings?”
Under Utah law your landlord has the right to place your belongings into storage and you may not access and get back ALL of your belongings until all “removal and storage costs” have been paid in full.
Normally, landlords will leave your possessions in the unit you got evicted from, and the “removal and storage” costs are simply your daily rent for every day after the lockout. No matter where your stuff gets stored the landlord is only required to cooperate with you AFTER you pay the money demand and then only 15 days, starting the day after you are locked out.
BUT the law says your landlord is required to provide you reasonable access within 5 days of the court order to get the following types of items out of your apartment:
- Financial documents; including all those related to the tenant’s immigration status or employment status
- Documents about receiving public services (Section 8, food stamps, welfare, etc…)
- Medical information, prescription medications, and any medical equipment required for maintenance of medical needs.
“How do I know the court order is legitimate?”
Under Utah law, an eviction order from a court is called an “Order of Restitution” and it must have four important things:
- Notice to the renter that they are to vacate the unit/apartment, remove their property and give the unit back to the landlord—or else be forcibly removed by a sheriff or constable.
- Notice to the renter of a time limit to vacate the unit—generally three days from service of the order but can be longer or even shorter if the court decides.
- Let the renter know about their right to a hearing to dispute the “manner of enforcement” of the order. This is different than fighting the reason for the eviction, this is just about fighting the move out order. For example an eviction order says you have to move out in seven days after the order was signed but the landlord locks you out three days after the order was signed.
- Must be signed by a judge! (In Utah, the signature is usually an electronic stamp in the top right corner of the order’s first page).
“What if I want to fight the eviction order?”
Keep in mind that fighting a signed eviction order is harder than responding to the eviction lawsuit in the first place. You can file an answer to the original eviction lawsuit you get served with (See “Should I represent myself in court?” for resources to help file an answer to the legal complaint).
If you want to fight an eviction order, that generally means that you will still have to leave the unit. If you successfully get the eviction order “set aside,” you would be allowed to return to the property. But to do that you have to make a request to the judge in writing. This request is called a “Motion to set Aside.”
You can stay in the unit if you convince the judge to accept a bond. Think of it like a bail bond. You are putting something up as collateral with the court so the landlord can be made whole if you fight the eviction and still lose.
It’s the same idea as putting up a car, a cash amount or other property as a bond to get out of jail. It’s proof of you showing your willingness to pay your fair share if the court rules against you later on.
It’s up to the judge if they’ll accept the bond. Such bonds could come in the form of a corporate bond, cash bond, certified funds, or a property bond.
Click HERE for more on fighting an eviction in court.
Print this page out here of the Utah code and show to your landlord if they are not abiding by the above rules.