Breaking a Lease in Utah - Know Your Rights Skip to Main Content

Breaking a lease in Salt Lake City Utah – Know the Laws

When tenants decide to break their lease, it can be stressful for a landlord! 

In many cases, a tenant will be responsible for paying the landlord a certain amount after they break a lease.

However, breaking a lease in Utah doesn’t always mean that a tenant will be penalized. A tenant can break their lease without penalty if their reason is legally justifiable, which means that the laws pertaining to lease-breaking in Utah can be complicated!  

Whether you’re a seasoned landlord or are just getting started, here’s everything you need to know about breaking a lease in Utah.

Legally Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Utah

Tenants in Utah can break their lease without penalty for any of the following reasons.

The Lease Contains an Early Termination Clause

If you included an early termination clause in your lease agreement, your tenant can use it to break their lease early and without penalty. Early termination clauses often contain certain requirements that tenants must meet before moving out.

Among these requirements are paying a predetermined fee and providing a notice period. The fee is usually equal to 2 months’ rent, whereas the notice period is typically one month.

The Tenant is Beginning Active Military Service

Tenants who begin active military service are protected against penalties by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This protection applies to service members who are being deployed or relocated to another location.

lease breaking laws ut

The relief act requires that the tenant:

  • Serve the landlord with proof that they entered into active duty before signing the lease agreement.
  • Serve the landlord with proof that they intend to stay on active duty for a minimum of 90 days.
  • Provide the landlord with written notice of their intention to move out.
  • Provide the landlord with a copy of the letters authorizing their deployment or change of station.

The lease, however, doesn’t end immediately after the tenant has met these requirements. Instead, it ends 30 days after the next rent cycle starts.

Utah regards a servicemember as someone belonging to the Armed Forces or the active National Guard. Other servicemembers include those in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Unit is Not Habitable

UCA §§ 57-22-4 stipulates what landlords must do to make their units habitable.

Some of the requirements are as follows:

  • Provide a unit that is safe and sanitary.
  • Ensure common areas are sanitary and in a safe condition.
  • Ensure that heating, plumbing, electrical, and appliances and facilities are in operable condition.
  • Provide and maintain appropriate trash receptacles if you’re renting out a building with at least two residential units.
landlord responsibilities utah

Your tenant would be deemed “constructively evicted” if you fail to meet those standards. As a result, they would have no further obligation to uphold the lease.

The Landlord Violates a Tenant’s Privacy

Utah tenants have a right to live in privacy. While you, as a landlord, have a right to enter the rental unit, that right must be balanced against your tenant’s right to privacy.

As per UCA §§ 57-22-4(2), you must provide your tenant with 24 hours advance notice before entering their unit. Utah also gives landlords the right to specify the notice period differently in the lease.

Your reason for entry must also be legally acceptable. For example, you can enter the rental to:

  • Inspect the unit.
  • Show the unit to potential tenants, buyers, or lenders.

You must also enter the unit within normal business hours unless another time has been agreed upon by the tenant.

You’d, however, not need to notify your tenant of your visit in the following circumstances:

  • In the event of an emergency.
  • If you believe your tenant has abandoned the unit.
  • Under court orders.

A Landlord’s Actions are Deemed to be Harassment

Entering your tenant’s unit without notifying them first isn’t the only act that qualifies as landlord harassment. 

Others include:

  • Shutting down previously available utilities, which can interfere with the unit’s habitability.
  • Denying the tenant amenities that are promised in the lease agreement.
  • Changing locks or barricading doors to get the tenant to vacate the premises.
landlord harassment examples
  • Removing a tenant’s personal belongings from the property.
  • Making an illegal rent increase.
  • Serving an improper notice, such as when evicting a tenant from the property.
  • Refusing a rent payment to intimidate your tenant.
  • Making physical threats to your tenant.
  • Faking an eviction against your tenant.
  • Making sexual advances toward your tenant.

The Tenant is a Victim of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence victims in Utah can break their lease without penalty. If your tenant is involved in a domestic violence situation and intends to move, we recommend checking with local law enforcement to learn about any special state laws that may apply to your tenant. 

For the tenant to break the lease under these circumstances, you have the right to:

  • Require the tenant to provide proof of their status. (UCA §§ 57-22-5.1).
  • Be served written notice of termination and provided 45 days’ rent.
  • Be served relevant documentation, such as a protective order or a copy of a police report.

Legally Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Utah

Some reasons don’t provide sufficient justification to release a tenant from their contractual obligations. 

legally justified reasons to break a lease utah

The following are such reasons:

  • Breaking the lease because of separation or divorce.
  • Breaking the lease due to a change in schools or jobs.
  • Breaking the lease to move in with a partner.
  • Breaking the lease to move to a larger or smaller property.

Landlord’s Duty to Mitigate Damages After a Tenant Breaks Their Lease

Utah landlords have an obligation to mitigate damages after a tenant breaks their lease. Therefore, once they leave, you must take reasonable steps to find a replacement tenant. If you are able to re-rent the unit quickly, then the tenant will only be liable for paying rent equal to the time the unit was unoccupied.

Bottom Line

To ensure you’re able to run a profitable rental, it’s important to know about the nuanced rules Utah has regarding breaking leases! However, like other Landlord-Tenant Laws, these laws can be subject to change which can make it difficult to keep up to date with what procedures must be followed when breaking a lease.

Fortunately, Keyrenter Salt Lake can help! Our team of trained professionals is well versed in all Utah Landlord-Tenant Laws. Reach out to us today!

Disclaimer: This blog is not a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws are subject to routine changes and this content may not be up to date at the time you read it. For expert legal advice, please contact a professional property management company or a licensed attorney.

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