Utah Small Claims Court Process

Utah Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: February 10, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $15,000
Deadline to File 4 years – Oral lease agreement

6 years – Written lease agreement

Filing Fees $60 – Claims $2,000 or less

$100 – Claims from $2,001 to $7,499

$185 – Claims over $7,500

Appeal Deadline 28 days

Small Claims Court Basics in Utah

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The trial does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to the judge, who makes a decision.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Utah?

A typical small claims case in Utah takes one to two months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the trial is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Utah?

In Utah, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $15,000.


On January 1, 2025, the small claim limit is scheduled to increase to $20,000.

To attempt to recover an amount of more than $15,000, the suit must be filed in District Court.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claim in Utah?

In Utah, you have up to 6 years from the date of the dispute to file a small claims case if the tenancy was governed by a written lease agreement. If the lease was oral, the case must be filed within 4 years.

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Utah?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney. However, either party can be represented by an attorney if they so choose.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Utah?

In Utah, Small Claims Court is a division of Justice Court. A small claims case should be filed in the Justice Court in the county where the defendant lives or the rental property is located.

To locate the correct Justice Court, you can use the court map.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Utah

Step 1: Complete a small claims Affidavit and Summons.


For small claims cases regarding the return of a security deposit, you must send a Notice to Provide Deposit Disposition to the landlord at least 5 business days before filing. See our article on Security Deposit Returns & Deductions for more information.

Step 2: File the Affidavit and Summons with a Justice Court Cover Sheet in person with the court clerk.

Step 3: Pay the filing fee.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Utah?

In Utah, the filing fee for a small claims case ranges from $60 to $185 depending on the claim amount:

  • $2,000 or less – $60
  • $2,001 to $7,499 – $100
  • $7,500 or more – $185

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing a Motion to Waive Fees.

Small Claims Court Process in Utah

After filing a small claims case in Utah, the court clerk will schedule a trial, and the Affidavit and Summons is served on the defendant.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. After you file the Affidavit and Summons, service on the defendant must be completed at least 30 days before the trial date.

Service on the defendant can be completed by:

  • Certified or registered mail
  • Commercial mail service with signature required (e.g. FedEx or UPS)
  • Private process server
  • Constable or sheriff
  • Personal service

The defendant can be served by personal service by any person 18 or older who:

  • Is not a party or an attorney in the case
  • Has not been convicted of a sex-related felony
  • Is not a respondent in a protective order proceeding

If the defendant cannot be found and served personally, the Affidavit and Summons can be given to any adult who lives in the defendant’s home. If the defendant is a company, the document can be given to the company’s manager or the person in charge of the office.

Step 2: File Proof of Service. A Proof of Completed Service form must be filed with the court clerk no later than 10 days after service on the defendant.

Step 3: Gather evidence and witnesses. Prepare any documentation that may help your case, like the lease agreement or apartment photos. If you think it would help your case, ensure that any witnesses are available to attend the trial. For example, you may ask the apartment manager to serve as a witness to how clean you left the apartment after moving out.

You may need to subpoena a witness if you are unable to get them to attend voluntarily by filing and serving a Subpoena

Step 4: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before deciding to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the trial, you must submit a Motion for Default Judgment. You can bring the completed form to the trial just in case the defendant does not attend or complete the form after the trial and file it with the court clerk. If the defendant is an individual, you must also complete a Military Service Declaration.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Utah

If you win the judgment in Utah, the other party may appeal the case, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt.

If the defendant disagrees with the outcome of the trial, they have 28 days to appeal the case to District Court by filing a Notice of Appeal.

When the judge issues the judgment, they will determine a time period for repayment. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays their debt within this period.

If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, there are multiple court actions available to recover the debt. The most common methods of enforcing a judgment are garnishment of wages, bank garnishment, property seizure, or placing a lien on real estate. To initiate these processes, you would need to file a case through the District Court or file the judgment with the County Recorder.

A judgment gains interest at a rate based on the federal post-judgment interest rate, which is 6.73% for judgments entered in 2023. You have 8 years to collect or renew a judgment before it expires.