Utah Legal Series

PRESS RELEASE: Utah Legal Services Wants You To Learn How to Defend Yourself Against Unjust Eviction

Salt Lake City, Utah (September 2, 2015): A new lecture series is beginning in September at the Downtown Salt Lake City Public Library to arm tenants with the knowledge and skills to defend themselves against their landlords. This new lecture series, organized by “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” partner agency Utah Legal Services (ULS), will aim to provide tenants with the knowledge to avoid eviction and its high associated costs, how to improve the quality of your rental, how to improve your rental living conditions, and how to ensure that your landlord makes repairs, among other topics. Controversial landlord practices can range from improper water shutoffs, delayed rental improvements, and the refusal to meet disability needs, among others. Take, for instance, the case of Mary, 38, a single mother diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and her 8-year old daughter diagnosed with neurofibromatosis faced with the looming threat of homelessness when the Housing Authority took away the families Section Eight Housing funding. Mary was forced to give nearly all of her possessions and asked her 16-year old son to live with his father to save him from the impending shame of homelessness. Utah Legal Services was notified of the case when Mary and her daughter were “literally a week away from going into a shelter.” Mary’s Section Eight Housing funding was taken away after she moved to a handicap accessible apartment with her landlord’s approval. The Housing Authority did not authorize the move and terminated her housing funds. ULS filed a third-party lawsuit against the Housing Authority, as well as a counter-suit against the landlord to ensure that Mary was not forced to pay the $10,000 in past due rent. (The full story was covered by the Standard-Examiner here.) In Utah, treble damages — a statute that permits a court to triple the amount of compensation — on a $1,000 dispute plus attorney fees can result in the tenant owing upwards of $5,000.  This debt is garnishable, which means debt collectors could take payments directly from the tenant’s wages before the tenant receives them. The combination of treble damages, attorney fees, and wage garnishing often results in […]