Things feel a bit uncertain in the Sandy rental market and in markets across the country as we continue to deal with the COVID pandemic and its economic fallout. While there’s an eviction moratorium in place for tenants who have been financially impacted and cannot pay rent, it’s a good idea to continue doing the same things you always did before. You have to maintain your investment home, respond to the needs of your tenants, collect rent, and pay attention to your legal and regulatory requirements.
Legal mistakes are easy to make and unfortunately, they’re often expensive. Make sure you’re protected against risk and liability. If you have trouble keeping up with the rental laws and their changes, seek help from a Sandy property management company.
Safeguard is recognized as a leader in Salt Lake City property management. We provide residential rental management services to owners of single-family homes, townhouses, condos and duplexes throughout Salt Lake County and the northern portion of Utah County.
Sandy, Utah Security Deposit Laws
It’s easy to make mistakes with security deposits. In Utah, there’s no limit to what you can charge a tenant for a security deposit. However, you need to disclose whether all or part of that deposit is non-refundable. Many owners will charge a non-refundable cleaning deposit, for example, or a pet fee. Your lease needs to reflect that the tenant will not get any part of that back.
You also need to return the deposit to your tenant within 30 days of the tenant moving out. If you’re withholding any or all of the deposit, make sure it’s for a valid reason – such as late or missing rental payments or property damage caused by tenant abuse, misuse, or neglect. You cannot charge for normal wear and tear, and you have to itemize any charges from the tenant’s deposit.
If you make a mistake with the security deposit, tenants can sue you in small claims court. You don’t want to take this risk. Make sure you understand the requirements of the security deposit laws, or talk to a local property management company that can help.
Rent Collection and Eviction
As we mentioned, an eviction moratorium is in place at the federal level when tenants cannot pay rent because of the pandemic. If you have residents who cannot pay their full rent, you want to work with them to get as much of the rent paid as possible. This moratorium does not excuse them from catching up with rent as soon as it’s possible. Make sure you’re communicating.
The eviction process in Utah is fairly straightforward, and if you do need to evict, you’ll serve a notice, file in court, and then either attend an occupancy hearing or seek a default judgment. Make sure you follow the law. You cannot change the locks, turn off the utilities, or try to move the tenants out without having gone through the court system.
Fair Housing and Anti-Discrimination Laws
The federal Fair Housing Act applies to all Sandy landlords and rental properties. You are not permitted to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. Most landlords don’t intentionally violate these laws, but if you say the wrong thing in your marketing materials or you screen one applicant differently than another applicant, you could run into trouble.
The Americans with Disabilities Act also provides protection for people who have physical or intellectual disabilities. This law is especially relevant to Sandy landlords and property managers when it comes to service and support animals. A tenant who needs a service animal cannot be treated like a tenant who wants to move in with a pet. You have to understand the difference, or you can find yourself in some expensive legal trouble.
We can help you navigate these complex laws during and after the COVID pandemic. For professional Sandy property management help, please contact us at Safeguard Property Management.