Remedies Available to the Landlord
What action may the landlord take if a tenant breaches the rental agreement?
If the tenant breaches the rental agreement or fails to fulfill his or her duties under the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, the landlord has the following options:
- Three-Day Notice:
- If the tenant fails to pay rent when due, then the landlord may terminate the rental agreement by giving the tenant notice that the tenant has three days from the date of notice in which to pay the rent or the rental agreement is terminated. If the tenant fails to pay rent within those three days, then the owner may terminate the rental agreement and the resident shall immediately deliver possession of the dwelling unit to the landlord. §47-8-33(D).
- If the tenant knowingly commits, or consents to another person in the dwelling unit or on the premises knowingly committing, a substantial violation, the owner may give a 3-day notice. To do so, the owner must deliver a written notice to the resident specifying the time, place and nature of the act constituting the substantial violation and specifying that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than three days after receipt of the notice. §47-8-33(I). (See [and link to] What is a substantial violation of the rental agreement? below.).
- Seven-Day Notice: If the tenant does not materially comply with the tenant’s obligations under the rental agreement (other than nonpayment of rent – see above) and/or the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, then within thirty days of such noncompliance, the landlord may give the tenant written notice, detailing the dates and acts constituting noncompliance, stating that the tenant must remedy the breach within seven days or the rental agreement will be terminated. §47-8-33(A). The seven-day notice must also state that the landlord will terminate the rental agreement if the tenant breaches the agreement again within the next six months. §47-8-33(C). If the tenant does materially breach his or her obligations again within six months of the initial seven-day notice, the landlord must give the tenant another written notice, detailing the dates and acts constituting noncompliance and stating that the landlord is terminating the rental agreement. The landlord must give the tenant at least seven days before terminating the lease. §47-8-33(B).
If the landlord gives proper notice to the tenant of violations and the tenant does not remedy the breach, and does not voluntarily surrender the premises after the notice period has run, the landlord may petition the court for a writ of restitution in order to regain possession of the premises. §§47-8-40 and -42. If the landlord prevails in the lawsuit, the landlord is also entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and court costs. §47-8-48(A).
What is a substantial violation by the tenant of the rental agreement?
According to Section 47-8-3(T), only the following are considered substantial violations of the rental agreement or rules and regulations when done knowingly by the resident or with the resident’s consent, and when done on the premises or within three hundred feet of the premises:
- Possession, use, sale, distribution or manufacture of a controlled substance, excluding misdemeanor possession and use;
- Unlawful use of a deadly weapon;
- Unlawful action causing serious physical harm to another person;
Sexual assault or sexual molestation of another person;
- Entry into the dwelling unit or vehicle of another person without that person’s permission and with the intent to commit theft or assault;
- Theft or attempted theft of property by use or threatened use of force; or
- Intentional or reckless damage to property in excess of one thousand dollars.
A tenant may raise the defense that he or she is a victim of domestic violence against the accusation of substantial violation. If the tenant has filed for or secured a temporary domestic violence restraining order as a result of the incident that is the basis for the termination notice or as a result of a prior incident, the writ of restitution shall not issue. §47-8-33(J).
May a landlord evict a tenant in response to a tenant’s seeking a remedy under the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act?
Under §47-8-39, a landlord may not retaliate against a tenant who is in compliance with the rental agreement and not otherwise in violation of any provision of the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act by increasing rent, decreasing services or by bringing or threatening to bring an action for possession because the tenant has within the previous six months:
- complained to a government agency regarding conditions materially affecting health and safety at the premises;
- organized or joined a tenants’ union, association or organization;
- acted in good faith to exercise the tenant’s rights under the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act;
made a fair housing complaint to a government agency with authority over fair housing matters;
- prevailed in a lawsuit as either a plaintiff or a defendant or has a lawsuit pending against the landlord relating to the residency;
- testified on behalf of another tenant; or
- abated rent in accordance with the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act.
If the landlord does sue the tenant in violation of this provision, the tenant may use such violation as a defense in the lawsuit. §47-8-39(B). Furthermore, if the tenant prevails in the suit, the tenant is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and costs. §47-8-48(A). In such a case, the landlord is subject to a civil penalty equal to two times the monthly rent. §47-8-48(B).
May the landlord evict the tenant without notice or a writ of restitution?
No. The landlord must give the tenant proper 3-day, 7-day, or 30-day notice of the landlord’s intention to terminate the rental agreement. If the tenant does not remedy the breach or noncompliance and does not voluntarily leave the premises, the landlord may go to the court to request a writ of restitution to regain possession of the premises and evict the tenant. §47-8-33.
How may a tenant or landlord terminate the rental agreement when there is no breach of the rental agreement or noncompliance with the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act?
If there is no breach of the rental agreement or noncompliance with the Uniform Owner-Resident Relations Act, a tenant or landlord may terminate a rental agreement in the following way:
- In a week-to-week residency, the tenant or landlord must give written notice to the other at least seven days prior to the termination date specified in the notice. §47-8-37(A).
- In a month-to-month residency, the tenant or landlord must give written notice to the other at least thirty days prior to the periodic rental date specified in the notice. §47-8-37(B).
What may a landlord do if the tenant does not vacate the dwelling unit after the expiration or termination of the rental agreement?
If the tenant remains in the dwelling unit without the owner’s consent after the expiration or termination of the rental agreement, the landlord may bring an action in court for possession. §47-8-37(C). If the tenant’s holdover is willful and not in good faith, the owner may additionally recover the damages sustained because of the holdover and reasonable attorney’s fees. §47-8-37(C).
If the owner consents to the tenant’s occupancy, unless there is an agreement otherwise, the residency is considered to be week-to-week in the case of a person who pays weekly rent and in all other cases is considered to be month-to-month. §§47-8-37(C) and -15.