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Many Utahns having a hard time paying rent

Google Maps image of the Jefferson School Apartments on West Temple. (PHOTO: Google Maps)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Despite a federal moratorium on evictions, 1 in 3 Utahns behind on their rent or mortgage payments believe they’ll be evicted in the next two months.

10% reporting “no confidence” in paying rent

The data comes from December survey results from the U.S. Census Bureau. Last month, Congress decided to extend a federal moratorium on eviction through the end of January.

Even with that safety net in place, officials with the Utah Housing Coalition say eviction are still taking place. Additionally, they say many times the evicted tenants don’t know about the federal moratorium, so they’re not raising it as a defense in court.

“There is a good portion of people that are still being evicted for nonpayment,” Tara Rollins, executive director of the Utah Housing Coalition, told the Deseret News.

Additional data from the Census Bureau indicates roughly 10% of nearly 480,000 renters in Utah reported “no confidence” in paying next month’s rent.

According to Rollins, her organization is preparing a report on the pandemic’s effects on renters. To gain adequate insight, they surveyed nearly 600 people who all received state rental assistance money last year.

Despite a majority of individuals being able to remain in their homes, the report found 50 people in Salt Lake County shelters were renting a property right before transitioning to the shelter.

Landlords explain their case

The Utah Apartment Association reported eviction filings in 2020 were down more than 40% from a year earlier. Despite the drop in evictions, they are still urging landlords to file eviction cases against tenants who aren’t responding to notices about missed payments.

“Sometimes they have to be woken up, and while we don’t want to do any eviction, a three-day notice and filing an eviction wakes a lot of people up,” explained Paul Smith with the Utah Apartment Association.