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Utah’s Moratorium On Evictions Set To Expire

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s 45 days of protection from evictions will end at 11:59 p.m. Friday after Gov. Gary Herbert said he would not extend the executive order.

Herbert said in a press conference on Thursday that the moratorium had served its purpose by putting a pause on evictions until renters received money from unemployment benefits and the federal stimulus act.

“The good news is that we’ve analyzed the data and as of April, through April, 90 percent of the renters are current on their rent,” Herbert said. “There’s not delinquency and that’s a good sign and we think May is going to be even better.”

The governor’s executive order went into effect on April 1 and provided protection from certain types of evictions as long as the tenant was current on rent as of March 31 and suffered one of the following: a loss of income or employment because of the pandemic, they were required to self-isolate or quarantine or they tested positive for COVID-19.

The Utah Apartment Association and the Utah Department of Workforce Services also said that delinquency rates didn’t jump while the moratorium was in effect.

“About the same percentage of renters are paying rent now that always have so we are very pleasantly surprised,” said Paul Smith, executive director of the Utah Apartment Association. “One of the reasons for that is that the government has been so quick to get money into the hands of renters through unemployment insurance and federal stimulus and renters are being responsible and prioritizing rent.”

“A good number of people have already paid their April and May rents,” said Jonathan Hardy, director of Housing and Community Development for the Department of Workforce Services. “There’s not a very large population of renters out there that haven’t been able to meet their housing obligations, so that’s a good sign.”

Nearly two dozen advocacy groups asked the governor to extend the moratorium until July 15.

“Extending the eviction deferral order will provide more time for renters to stabilize their incomes,” the May 6 letter said.

The Crossroads Urban Center, which signed the letter, said it was disappointed by the decision to let the moratorium expire.

“We’re really worried that there could be a surge in evictions starting next week,” said Bill Tibbitts, executive director of the Crossroads Urban Center. “There were a lot of families that we service here in our food pantry that were already struggling to pay rent before this crisis began.”

For those still struggling to pay rent, the Department of Workforce has a new rental assistance program. It’s designed to help those who may be falling through the cracks and don’t qualify for Unemployment benefits.

The rental assistance program has more than $4 million available that will be implemented by regional agencies throughout the state, according to Workforce Services. Rent payments of up to $1,500 will be made directly to landlords.

To apply for the rental assistance program, renters can call 211 or visit 211utah.org

Above all, housing advocates said communication is key and for renters to talk with the landlords and explain the situation.

“Renters should immediately communicate with their landlords if they cannot pay rent to work out a possible repayment schedule,” the Utah Housing Coalition said in a press release.

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