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 agreement 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 agreement. But as a landlord in Arizona, you must strictly follow the state’s eviction system and the landlord-tenant act, as it is illegal for you to carry out the Arizona eviction process in any other way. For instance, by “self-evicting” the tenant by doing any of the following things.
- Throwing out the tenant’s personal belongings.
- Shutting down previously available amenities.
- Locking them out of the unit.
What’s the Eviction Process in Arizona? Here’s a Guide
Part of renting out your home is understanding the eviction system, being part of the landlord-tenant act in Arizona. So, we at Keyrenter Premier have put together this article to help Arizona landlords understand the eviction suit.
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 or partial payment of the monthly rent or security deposit
- Violation of the lease or rental 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 Arizona eviction notice through registered or certified mail.
Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice, in Arizona
For tenants who fail to pay rent on time or withhold rent, 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 Arizona eviction. If they don’t pay up and remain on the premises, you may proceed with the eviction lawsuit.
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 agreement limits, rental property damage, and unauthorized pets.
For holdover tenants, the 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 written 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 violates the agreement and remains in the rental unit after the expiry of the tenant notice via certified mail, 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 lawsuit. The next step would be to file a complaint in the appropriate justice court and get a court date. Typically, the court costs and filing fee 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 notice, a complaint must be served to the tenant by a process server. This must be done at least 2 days prior to the court 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 property owner forced the tenant out of the unit unlawfully. For example, by turning off any utilities, removing the tenant’s personal property, or changing the locks before the writ of restitution.
- The eviction actions were not procedural. For instance, the Arizona residential landlord failed to serve the proper notice.
- A landlord failed to make the necessary repairs to the premises violating applicable building codes.
- A landlord failed to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the violation they had committed, for example paying past due rent within the given period but still being punished.
- The Arizona eviction notice was discriminatory, retaliatory, or a breach of the Fair Housing Law.
- The eviction actions are based on falsified charges such as the failure to pay rent when rent was paid.
- The Arizona landlord continued with the eviction action, even after the tenant fixed the violation. For instance, paying the overdue rent or fixing 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 of the tenant from the rental unit will proceed.
Writ of Restitution
The court will give the tenant the writ of restitution as 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 Scottsdale property management company that can manage the rental unit for you.
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for expert legal advice. Also, Arizona law changes 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.