Adventures in Property Management

Tenant at Will

System - Sunday, April 8, 2018
Property Management Blog

If I don’t have any written lease in place, can I give the people living in my house a five day notice to a tenant at will?

This is a common misconception. A tenant at will is someone who does not have ANY agreement or right to occupy the property. The typical example of a tenant at will is a squatter that moved into the property without the owner’s permission.

If you’re not sure whether you have a tenant at will, you should ask two questions: (1) How long have you known they live there? And (2) Have they paid you any rent? If the tenant has been there for a while and you haven’t taken action to have them removed or if you’ve accepted rent from them, then at some point you’ve probably given them permission to stay and they are NOT a tenant at will.

A common reason landlords think they have a tenant at will is if there is no written lease in place. Under Utah law, a verbal contract (or lease) is just as enforceable as a written contract (or lease). The difference between a written and verbal contract is that verbal contracts are MUCH harder to prove. If you’re sure you have a tenant at will, you can serve them with a five day notice to a tenant at will asking them to leave. If you’re not sure, it might be best to consider other notices.

Thank you to Jeremy Shorts with Utah Eviction Law for helping us understand tenant at will. For this and any questions you may have regarding landlord tenant law contact Utah Eviction Law at 801-610-9879 or