SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) –  Governor Gary Herbert’s announcement of a 45-day rent deferment yesterday raised a lot of questions. 

“Today, I’m announcing through an executive order that until May 15th a tenant may defer rental payments,” the governor announced Wednesday.

Since that declaration, there have been numerous misunderstandings and misconceptions, according to Paul Smith, the Executive Director of the Utah Apartment Association.

“Number one it is not a rent deferral order,” Smith said during a teleconference Thursday. “Some people are reporting that renters do not have to pay rent. That is not true. Some people are reporting that renters are going to be forgiven or excused of rent. That is not true and last it has been reported that this suspends or prohibits all evictions and that is not true.”

Mike Ostermiller, the CEO of the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors, points out that the order only applies to a small group of tenants who meet three requirements.

“Number one if you’re a renter and you’re current with your rent as of March 31st,” Ostermiller said. “Number two, you’ve lost a job or lost wages as a direct result of the COVID-19 virus or number three you’ve tested positive yourself for the COVID-19 virus then the order effectively pushes a pause button on evictions being brought against that very narrow segment of the population for 45 days.”

Property owners can still evict tenants for other violations of their lease agreements and ask that you don’t wait until May 15th to pay your rent. 

“Renters, please recognize that housing providers have expenses too and pay your rent as soon as you are able,” Smith said. “If necessary utilize your personal resources, loans from friends and family, help from nonprofits and churches and government programs to stay current on rent.”

The order only applies to renters but Howard Headlee, the President of the Utah Bankers Association, says financial institutions are offering similar deferments to qualified residential and business owners.

“We all have to work together for the next couple of months to get through this,” Headlee said. “Deferring your obligations during the crisis but then demanding payment from others is bad form. If you’re given leniency, pay it forward. That’s the Utah way.”

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