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Utahns encouraged to pay their rent despite federal eviction moratorium

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utahns are being urged to keep paying their rent despite a recent federal moratorium placed on evictions. The Trump Administration recently issued a directive through the Centers for Disease Control putting a moratorium on many evictions as a way to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, if renters meet certain criteria.

But it might not be a good idea for Utahns to skip their rent payments if it’s not necessary. 

Utah Apartment Association Executive Director Paul Smith told KSL Newsradio’s Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry that a moratorium is not the same as rent forgiveness. 

And renters could face a big bill when the moratorium expires in January. 

“The moratorium does not end late fees. It does not prevent landlords from serving three-day notices [to fix something on the property] or beginning evictions. And when they begin evictions, there’s going to be attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages,” Smith said. 

Smith believes the moratorium could give people a false sense of security until they get sticker shock and have to pay back rent in January.  

“If I’m a renter, and I say to myself, ‘Hey, it’s tempting under this federal moratorium to not pay,'” Smith said, “I better understand that if I don’t pay, and eventually in January I am evicted, the bill is going to be huge.”   

He also thinks challenging your eviction in court could also get costly. 

Smith called the moratorium “political” and urged federal lawmakers to offer more direct rent relief to people.

However, he also said Utah’s evictions from March to July are down 41% from 2016, meaning most Utahns are paying their full rent despite the pandemic. 

Smith believes that’s because people who need help are getting it from their families and churches. Local governments have also been offering several rent relief programs.