As a landlord or investment property owner in Utah, you need to know what your tenants are and are not allowed to do when it comes to breaking a lease.
In this blog post, we will cover unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination, so that you can understand what rights you and your tenants have in this situation.
Rental Agreement in Utah
You need to create a lease in Utah or rental agreement that includes clear guidelines for everything, including breaking a lease and eviction laws. As their landlord, it is your job to tell tenants what the penalties are if they break their lease without a justifiable reason. You should also let them know of the allowable reasons for breaking a lease in an early termination clause.
Your lease should include a section on how much notice they need to give you before ending their periodic lease. Your tenant must give you 15 calendar days’ written notice to terminate a lease that does not have an end dates. Fifteen days are also required for notice to terminate a month-to-month lease.
However, Utah tenants are not required to provide notice for leases with fixed end dates. This is because the rental lease automatically expires on the last day of the term.
You should also include your responsibility as a landlord to re-rent the apartment or rental unit in the lease agreement. Under Utah state law, there is no statute that requires a landlord to take reasonable steps to re-rent their unit immediately when a tenant breaks their lease.
A good lease agreement should also include the tenant’s rights to sublet in Utah. Utah tenants may be allowed to sublet the unit unless the landlord clearly prohibit subletting in the lease. Landlords may also include a clause in the lease to require the tenant to secure approval from a landlord before subletting.
Tenants should send a letter of request to sublet through certified mail, with a return receipt, to obtain approval from a landlord. The letter should include the following information:
- Sublet term.
- Name of proposed assignee or subtenant.
- Proposed subtenant’s permanent home address.
- Tenant’s reason for subletting or leaving the property.
- The current tenant’s new address during the sublease.
- Written consent from co‑tenants, if applicable.
- The proposed sublease.
It’s important to note that the landlord may only reject a tenant’s request to sublet due to legitimate reasons. Utah law prohibits the landlord from refusing a sublet request without reasonable factors.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Utah
There are certain reasons that are not enough on their own for a tenant to terminate a Utah lease agreement early. If your tenant gives any of the following reasons for breaking their lease, they receive no legal protection against penalties for not honoring the lease.
- The tenant purchased a house.
- The tenant has to relocate for a job or to attend school.
- The tenant is upgrading or downgrading their rental living situation.
- The tenant is moving in with a partner.
- The tenant is moving to be closer to family.
If a Utah tenant tries to break their lease for any of the reasons above without approval from a court or under conditions not outlined in the lease agreement, they may face consequences. If your tenant would like to break a lease for any of these reasons, you can sign an agreement to allow for the termination and cannot pursue legal recourse.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Utah
There are certain justified reasons that your Utah tenant can use to break a lease early. Find out about these reasons below.
1. Early Termination Clause
Nowadays, lease agreements can have provisions that allow a tenant to prematurely terminate a lease for a fee. Utah landlords who allow this should include important details, like the amount a tenant must pay, as well as the number of days required for the notice to break the lease in the rental agreement.
2. Active Military Duty
Active service members who are relocated are protected from consequences for breaking the lease before the term ends. The protection begins on the day of entering the service and ends between 30 to 90 days after discharge.
To justifiably break a lease due to military duty, a Utah tenant must meet the following conditions:
- The lease must have been signed before entering active duty.
- The tenant should remain on active duty for the next 90 days minimum.
- The tenant must issue a written notice to the landlord together with a copy of the orders to deploy or Permanent Change of Station (PCS). If these orders are not available, a letter from the commanding officer stating their pending deployment should be.
3. Uninhabitable Property
As a landlord, you should provide a habitable place for your tenant that is in accordance with the health and safety standards required by Utah state law. Repair requests should be addressed immediately to avoid conflict with renters, especially if the repair issues violate the habitability standards set by the law.
Under Utah state law, a landlord is responsible for the following duties:
- Compliance: The rental property should be in compliance with the law’s health, safety, and sanitary standards. The premises should be fit for human occupancy.
- Common Areas: A landlord should maintain common areas of the rental unit.
- Maintenance: All essential appliances should be maintained well to remain in an operable condition.
- Trash Receptacles: A landlord should provide and maintain appropriate trash receptacles for garbage and arrange for its removal.
4. Other Justifiable Reasons
Here are the other reasons why a tenant may be allowed to break the lease legally:
- Violation of privacy: Utah landlords must give 24 hours’ notice to enter the rental property.
- Changing the locks: Lockouts are not permitted in Utah.
- Domestic violence: Victims of domestic violence are protected with special rental provisions.
- Violation of the lease agreement: If landlords violate any provisions of the lease, Utah tenants may be allowed to break the lease.
- Mandatory disclosures: Violation of mandatory disclosures may also be a ground for tenants to legally break a lease.
- Senior citizen or health issues: Early termination may be allowed for age- or health-related issues.
Now you are well-versed when it comes to breaking a lease in Utah. If you have any questions, please reach out to us. We are a leading property management company in South Ogden and have been working with landlords and investors since 2015. We’d love to work with you too! Contact us today at (801) 337-4337.