Unlike month-by-month leases, fixed-term rental agreements offer far more stability and reduced tenant turnover rates. However, these kinds of leases don’t always into a smooth-sailing or long-term tenancy. Sometimes, landlords or tenants must break a lease early, whether it’s because they’re selling the property or because they’re moving states.
That’s why, as a landlord in Utah, you must know the rules and regulations for breaking a lease early. To help you out, the team at Reside Rentals has written this guide. We’ll go over the unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination in Utah, so you’ll be well-informed in case such a situation ever arises.
Rental Agreement in Utah
Having a solid rental agreement in place is essential when renting out a property in Utah. When your tenants sign their lease, it is your responsibility as a landlord to ensure they are aware of the penalties for unjustifiably breaking a lease, as well as of their rights for breaking a lease.
Your rental agreement should also include how much notice tenants must give you when ending their periodic lease early. In the state of Utah, tenants must give landlords 15 days written notice to terminate a month-to-month lease or a lease without an end date.
For fixed-term leases, a 15 to 30 days’ notice should be given, depending on the cause for early lease termination. As a landlord in the state of Utah, you must make a reasonable effort to re-rent the unit. If you find new renters quickly, the former tenant will only be responsible for paying rent for the time the property was vacant.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to add a clause to all your leases clarifying whether tenants can sublet your property and whether damage from a sublet can be rectified using money from their security deposit. In Utah, tenants can sublet a rental unit without their landlord’s written consent.
By adding a subletting clause to your lease, you can give tenants the right to sublet your rental. This can ensure that your rental remains profitable even when a tenant breaks their lease early. However, there are many risks you should consider before allowing renters to sublet your property.
Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in Utah
Below is a list of reasons that are generally not enough justification (on their own) to release a tenant from the lease. As a result, these reasons don’t provide legal protection against penalties for not honoring the lease.
• The tenant bought a house
• The tenant is relocating for a new job or school
• The tenant is upgrading or downgrading
• The tenant is moving in with a partner
• The tenant is moving to be closer to family
If a Utah tenant wants to break their lease for any of the above reasons, they can request court approval or have their landlord agree to a mutual termination. If this doesn’t happen, then the tenant could be liable to pay the remaining rent due until the due date of the lease.
Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in Utah
According to Utah landlord-tenant laws, these are the nine justified reasons for a tenant to break a lease early in this state:
1. Active Military Duty
If a tenant is an active member of the military and is relocated due to deployment or change in station, they may be able to break the lease legally. To legally break a lease for this reasons, a tenant must meet the following conditions:
• They must be an active duty member of the military
• They must prove they will be deployed or moved to another station for at least 90 days
• They must prove they signed the lease before entering active duty
To break their lease for military duty, tenants must provide their landlord with a written notice and documentation mentioned above. However, the lease can only be terminated 30 days after the beginning of the next rent period.
2. Early Termination Clause
Utah landlords can add an early termination clause to their rental agreement. An early termination clause allows tenants to break the lease early by giving 30-60 days written notice beforehand. Many landlords also add a mutual termination clause so that any lease can be terminated early as long as both parties agree to it.
3. Uninhabitable Living Conditions
Utah landlords must keep their rentals in safe, habitable conditions throughout the duration of a tenancy. If safety and health standards are not met, tenants are legally justified to break their lease early.
To break a lease for uninhabitable conditions, tenants must notify the landlord that the property is in inhabitable condition. The landlord would then have 15 days to fix the issues.
If the property owner fails to address the problem, tenants are entitled to early lease termination. In some cases, renters may also be entitled to a prorated refund of rent from the date of termination or their move-out date, whichever is later.
4. Tenant Death
A tenant’s estate can terminate a lease early if the tenant and sole occupant of the unit dies before the end of the lease. To terminate the lease for tenant death, the representative of the estate must provide the landlord with written notice within a reasonable amount of time and remove the late tenant’s property from the premises.
The tenant’s estate will then be responsible for paying any due rent and damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
5. Mental or Physical Disability
Utah tenants can justifiably break a lease early due to mental or physical disability. For instance, a renter could request you to terminate the lease if they need to move to a specialized care facility. This cannot be classified as an eviction.
Landlords can request verification of disability if necessary. However, once they receive written notice for early lease termination, they have to terminate the lease. Not doing so can lead to a Fair Housing complaint or legal action against the landlord.
6. Additional Reasons
Other justified reasons for a tenant to break a lease early in Utah include:
• Domestic violence. In Utah, tenants who are victims of domestic violence have the right to terminate their lease early without penalties. However, they must provide their landlords with proof of the abuse and a court order.
• Illegal or unenforceable contract. If your lease agreement has unenforceable clauses or provisions, the unit is illegal, or your tenant is a minor, the lease will immediately be terminated.
• Privacy violations. Utah tenants can terminate their lease early due to landlord harassment or privacy violations. Avoid entering the property without proper notice, removing windows or doors, or refusing to make repairs, as these actions could give tenants legal grounds for early lease termination.
• Landlord retaliation. If a Utah landlord retaliates against a tenant, they would have legal grounds to break their lease early. However, this process is not immediate and typically involves a court hearing.
As a landlord, it’s crucial that you understand the regulations for breaking a lease early in your state. This can help you keep your property protected and minimize the risk of tenant turnover. Now that we’ve gone over the unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination in Utah, you’re better prepared to handle such a situation.
If you have more questions about early lease termination in Utah, contact Reside Rentals! We have been working with landlords and investors in Logan, UT, since 2016. We’re ready to use our resources and knowledge to help you too!