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Rent Deferment Offers Options For Tenants And Landlords

With the end of the month coming up many renters are unsure of what their options are if they’ve experienced a decrease in income. Options exist for landlords and tenants in the form of rent deferment.

With the end of the month coming up many renters are unsure of what their options are if they’ve experienced a decrease in income. Options exist for landlords and tenants in the form of rent deferment or rent reduction. 

Heber resident Jeff Daybell is a lawyer with a private practice, he also works for the Utah State Bar, where one of his roles for the bar is eviction defense. 

“A lot of my neighbors work in the hotel industry in Park City,” Daybell continued. “I just kind of assumed that they were going to be struggling for rent payments which has turned out to be true. So I created a free rent deferral option. It requires that the landlord and the tenant both agree, but basically what it does is it makes it so that you don’t have to make a rent payment in the month of April. The rent payment that would’ve been due is just prorated over the remaining months on the lease.” 

Daybell says the document has been viewed over 14,000 times.  

“The comments have been kind of mixed,” Daybell explained. “The tenants are obviously really in favor of it because they don't want to get evicted. Some landlords are really willing to work and some landlords are rightfully so worried about making their own mortgage payments or paying their own bills. So, it's more difficult for them to defer the rent. I’ll be the first one to admit it’s not a perfect solution. It’s just a solution that can make it so that people aren’t going to be homeless in April.” 

Daybell says before landlords push for eviction, they ought to consider the costs of eviction, and the likelihood that landlords will be able to recover against tenants who are without work. 

Landlords are receiving similar advice from the Utah Apartment Association which represents over 2,500 landlords in the state. Executive Director Paul Smith says they are encouraging landlords who can offer rent deferral to do so, but meanwhile landlords will be dealing with decreased revenue with the same expenses. 

“There's no question that landlords have expenses,” Smith said. “They have mortgage, they have taxes, they have insurance, and then they have staff and maintenance. So, they do need revenue to continue to provide good service and to maintain quality housing. So, most renters are going to be able to continue to pay rent and we encourage that.” 

Smith says the key for renters and landlords to get through the crisis is communication. 

“Renters that need help, or that need to pay their rent a little bit later need to reach out to landlords,” Smith continued. “Landlords also should reach out to renters in advance. Don’t wait until rent is late. Tell them in advance, hey if you need help, we've got some programs for you. So, communication is just very important.” 

Daybell emphasizes that any changes to a lease agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties, otherwise it won’t hold up in court. 

“If you anticipate not being able to make your rent for April or May, bad news doesn't get better with age,” Daybell explained. “It's better to jump on this before you could be in a potential situation where eviction is a possibility. Come up with an agreement with your landlord, get it in writing and do it before the rent’s due. Because once it’s due the landlords within their legal right to take legal action.” 

The Utah Apartment Association is asking government agencies not to implement eviction moratoriums, as they believe that encourages more renters not to pay and would result in mass evictions at the end of the crisis. Daybell also says that eviction moratoriums without a limit on penalties can be financially crippling to renters.  

Smith says that because of the federal bailout and rent deferral programs landlords don’t anticipate large vacancies, rent loss, or mass evictions.


The rent deferral form can be viewed here.

More info from the Utah Apartment Association can be found here.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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