Gephardt: Utah Eviction Rate Low But Crisis Looms, Advocates Fear

Jul 29, 2020, 6:15 PM | Updated: 10:10 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Thanks to the federal CARES Act and some moratoriums on evictions, millions of Americans have been able to stay in their homes. But renters and advocates are worried about a spike in evictions with those benefits set to expire.

In fact, 29 percent of Utah renters surveyed this month by global advisory firm Stout said they can’t pay rent and fear they’ll be kicked out. 

That’s the fear, but the reality is Utahns are facing evictions at a far lower rate.

State court records show landlords filed for 72 evictions last week and 89 the week before. That averages out to be just over 16 evictions per day.

That’s actually lower than evictions before the pandemic, but Tara Rollins, executive director of the Utah Housing Coalition, warned the pace could pick way up.

“I think we’re going to see a crisis,” she said.

Adding to the crisis — housing isn’t just housing anymore.

“A lot of people are working from home right now. And we also have right now education is a big part of the home,” she said.

There is housing assistance available. In Utah, it starts by picking up your phone, dialing 211 and asking for help.

Rollins said it makes financial sense to help keep folks in their homes because it costs more to take care of people if they become homeless. It’s also hard for renters to get back into a place if they have an eviction on their record.

One bit of silver lining to this is Utahns tend to fare better than some in other states thanks to the charitable nature of the community, Rollins said. But on by that same coin, she said it can make it hard to gauge the real need.

“We’ve had a lot of people step up and we’ve had a lot of people step up in the past as well,” she said. “We have a lot of churches that pay for rent … I think we’re uniquely positioned in this state to receive you know, help from the Church.”

Marty Blaustein, a lawyer with Utah Legal Services, which specializes in helping tenants, said they’ve seen more Utahns seeking help.

“We’re getting a little overwhelmed,” he said.

Blaustein said there are virtually zero legal defenses that will compel a judge to let a tenant avoid eviction if he or she isn’t paying rent. His advice to tenants hoping to avoid eviction is to always pay on time, even there is an ongoing dispute with the landlord. For folks who can’t, he said swallow your pride and ask for help as early as possible.

“If you know you’re not going to be able to pay your rent, let’s say the month of August or the month of September, the time to act on it is now, prior to the time that the landlord serves you with the notice,” he said.

Rollin’s advice: Tenants and landlords engaging in those awkward conversations and seeking solutions can avoid evictions and the billable lawyer hours that come along with them. She said landlords deserve to be paid, but she hopes they’ll also be patient.

“The golden key is communication,” she said. “Tenants need to communicate with the landlord and landlords, please communicate back with the tenant. You know, if you’re able to put a payment out for six months, please do that for our community.”

The Housing Assistance Program has been funded by CARES Act funds awarded to the Utah State Legislature and distributed to the Utah Housing and Community Development Division. The program is designed to assist low-income Utahns, who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are not receiving unemployment benefits, in obtaining or retaining rental housing.

The Rental Assistance Program has been funded by the CARES Act and is designed to assist Utah renters whose ability to pay rent has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, but whose needs are not being met by other programs. Primarily this funding should assist those who are not eligible for unemployment benefits. This document provides a guide for how to utilize these funds in your communities.

Complete guidelines are available here.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

(KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt helps restore West Valley man’s Social Security disability payments

Jeff Davis gets disability payments from the Social Security Administration. At least, he did up until his mom passed away in December.
11 days ago
The Pearsons tell KSL’s Matt Gephardt they should be reimbursed by either the airline or the onli...
Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

Sandy couple Gets Gephardt after booking error left them paying out for pricey return flights

A Sandy couple bought roundtrip tickets to Hawaii, but when they discovered their return tickets were no good, they had to buy pricey replacements. When they were refused reimbursement, they decided to Get Gephardt.
12 days ago
Amy Olsen...
Matt Gephardt

Utahns cleared of DUI accusations are forced to pay to get their licenses back

Amy Olsen has her driving privilege back now, but it cost her $255. For her, it is a frustrating ordeal that began months earlier when a trooper pulled her over.
16 days ago
Gas bill...
Matt Gephardt

Gas company increasing bills for customers on fixed payments plan

If you're told you're going to pay the same price for 12 months, you wouldn't expect the price to go up. But when the natural gas company raised the rates on a Payson woman, she decided to Get Gephardt to investigate.
16 days ago
Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...
Matt Gephardt

$21 billion in gift cards go unused. Here’s how to avoid letting them go to waste

Gift cards: they are one of the most popular gifts to give and to receive, but that does not necessarily mean they are going to get used.
18 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

How to beat the dynamic pricing used by Amazon and many other retailers to pay less

The KSL Investigates team gives you information on how to beat dynamic pricing to get your money's worth and pay less.
19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...
PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
Gephardt: Utah Eviction Rate Low But Crisis Looms, Advocates Fear