When a tenant signs a lease, they agree to abide by the terms of this agreement. An example could be paying rent on time, taking care of the unit, and abiding by all rental policies. But this does not always happen. A tenant may, for instance, go against their lease and keep an unauthorized pet or illegally sublet the unit.
In such cases, landlords are within their rights to evict the tenant for violating the lease. But as a landlord in Arizona, you must strictly follow the state’s eviction process as it is illegal for you to carry out the eviction in any other way. For instance, by “self-evicting” the tenant by doing any of the following things.
- Throwing out their personal belongings.
- Shutting down previously available amenities.
- Locking them out of the unit.
What’s the Eviction Process in Arizona? Here’s a Guide
The eviction process, being part of the landlord-tenant laws in Arizona, is one that every landlord should understand. So, we at Keyrenter Premier have put together this article to help landlords understand the eviction process.
Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
For you to begin the eviction action against a tenant, you must first have a justified legal reason. The following are some of the legal reasons for a tenant eviction in the state of Arizona:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Violation of the lease agreement
- Absence of a lease or the end of lease term
- Violation of Arizona health, safety, or structural codes
- Illegal activity.
If a scenario you are in could be described as any of the above, you must serve the tenant with an appropriate eviction notice.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice, in Arizona
For tenants who fail to pay rent on time, you must serve them a 5-Day Notice to Pay. After which, the tenant must pay the past due amount within five days to avoid an eviction. If they don’t pay up and remain on the premises, you may proceed with the eviction process.
For tenants who violate the lease terms, you must serve them a 10-Day Notice to Comply. This will give them 10 days to correct the issue or else risk getting evicted. The category of lease violations that fall here can include exceeded rental limit, property damage, and unauthorized pets.
For holdover tenants, the eviction notice depends on the type of tenancy in operation. If the tenant pays their rent on a weekly basis, then you must serve them a 10-Day Notice to Quit. If they pay their rent monthly, the appropriate notice to serve them would be the 3-Day Notice to Quit.
When it comes to violations impacting the unit’s habitability, you’re required to serve the tenant a 5-Day Notice to Comply. This will give them 5 days to correct the issue or else risk getting evicted.
If the tenant remains on the property after the expiry of the notice, you can proceed with the eviction action.
If the tenant doesn’t fix the violation or move out within the notice period, you may continue with the eviction. The next step would be to file a complaint in the appropriate court. Typically, the filing fees will cost you about $35 in a Justice Court, and $218 in a Superior Court.
Once you’ve filed the complaint, the summons will typically be issued on the same day. But unlike the eviction notice, a complaint must be served to the tenant by a process server. This must be done at least 2 days prior to the hearing date.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in Arizona
After being served, the tenant can choose whether to answer the complaint or not. But this isn’t a requirement for a court appearance.
If the tenant has any defenses, they can make them in person during the hearing. The following are some common defenses the tenant may give at the hearing to fight their eviction:
- The landlord forced the tenant out of the unit unlawfully. For example, by turning off any utilities or changing the locks before the writ of restitution.
- The eviction was not procedural. For instance, the landlord failed to serve the proper eviction notice.
- A landlord failed to make the necessary repairs to the premises.
- A landlord failed to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the violation they had committed.
- The eviction was discriminatory or retaliatory.
- The eviction is based on falsified charges.
- The landlord continued with the eviction action, even after the tenant fixed the violation. For instance, paid the overdue rent or fixed the damage they caused to the unit.
As an aside, it is a good idea to consult a property management company or legal professional as eviction may impact the tenant’s security deposit.
Attending Court Hearing
The eviction hearing may take place anywhere between three to six days after the date the summons was issued. However, for evictions involving any illegal activity, the hearing must be held within 3 days after the summons is issued.
If the tenant fails to show up for the hearing, the court will issue a default judgment in your favor. Subsequently, a writ of restitution will be issued and the eviction will proceed.
Writ of Restitution
The writ of restitution is the tenant’s final notice to vacate the premises. If they don’t leave within the notice period, the sheriff will forcibly remove them from the premises.
If you have specific questions, hire the services of a qualified Arizona attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable property management company.
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for expert legal advice. Also, laws change, and this post may not be updated at the time you read it. Please contact a legal professional or property management company if you have any questions.