More Protections for Tenants Means Added Burdens for Landlords

Utah landlords are not particularly pleased with a bill recently passed by the 2012 Utah State Legislature.

S.B. 173, known as the “Fit Premises Act Modifications” sponsored by Ben McAdams (D), Salt Lake City, amends the “Utah Fit Premises Act” to provide tenants with additional protections.

Specifically, the bill provides that, before the landlord and tenant enter into a rental agreement, the landlord must provide the tenant a written inventory of the condition of the rental unit, excluding ordinary wear and tear.  The landlord must also allow the tenant to either document the rental unit’s condition within a reasonable period of time after the tenant’s occupancy or provide the tenant with a walkthrough inspection of the unit before signing the rental agreement.

The bill also requires that, prior to the beginning of the rental agreement, the landlord must provide the tenant with certain written disclosures including the name, address, and telephone number of any person authorized to manage the rental unit; or the name, address, and telephone number of any person authorized to act on behalf of the landlord.

The landlord must also provide the tenant with a signed copy of the rental agreement (if the rental agreement is in writing) and a copy of any rules and regulations applicable to the rental unit.

However, somewhat surprisingly, the landlord’s failure to comply with the above requirements cannot be used by the tenant as an excuse not to comply with the rental agreement.

If a landlord fails to deliver possession of the rental unit on the date provided in the rental agreement, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement.  Alternatively, the tenant may simply choose not to terminate the rental agreement, but delay payment of rent until the landlord delivers possession as provided in the rental agreement.

These amendments to the Utah Fit Premises Act underscore how important it is for both the landlord and tenant to have a signed rental agreement, and to also document (in writing and perhaps even photographs) certain other details including the condition of the rental unit when the tenant takes possession.

S.B. 173 has been delivered to the Lieutenant Governor’s office for filing, and is expected to be signed into law later this year.  The Utah Fit Premises Act can be found here.

This article was researched, written and posted by Clark Duellman