The goal of every Arizona residential landlord is to rent to a desirable tenant for their rental unit. One that will care for their rental premises, abide by all rental rules and, of course, pay rent on time. But no matter how thorough your tenant screening process is, tenant eviction is almost always an inevitable reality. From not paying rent to illegally subletting the apartment, tenants, tenants can perform a number of lease agreement violations that force you to break the lease early.
And when that reality eventually kicks in, it is paramount to ensure that you abide by the law. In Arizona, just like in the rest of the 49 states, Arizona landlords must abide by the eviction laws and the terms agreed upon in the rental agreement. The laws stipulate what a landlord must do in order to evict a tenant successfully.
Self-help evictions and retaliatory evictions, as well as evictions based on race, color, or any other protected classes, or any evictions given without proper written notice, are illegal. In addition, you must have a valid reason to evict a tenant. You cannot just evict a tenant because you no longer like them while complying with Arizona law.
If you are looking to evict a tenant in Arizona, or are simply familiarizing yourself with the Arizona tenancy laws, a landlord must give the tenant a proper eviction procedure. This resource should get you started. The following is the eviction process in Arizona.
1. Posting the Arizona Eviction Notice
A landlord must give the tenant notice of eviction, and begin the Arizona eviction process for multiple legally justified reasons, such as when the tenant violates the terms of the lease, as per the Arizona eviction laws. The landlord must give the tenant a legal reason for eviction as well as a notice period of at least five days. They are as follows:
Failure By a Tenant to Pay Rent on Time
In Arizona, rent becomes late a day after it is due. Of course, as a landlord, you may also give your tenant a grace period. But if you choose to, make sure to have it written down in the lease or rental agreement. If you have this in the rental agreement, you can use the tenant’s security deposit to make up for the unpaid rent, but only after giving proper notice.
After monthly rent becomes late, you can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with a 5-Day Notice to Pay. This will give your tenant a maximum of 5 days to pay the due rent or leave. You may then proceed with the eviction process if the tenant does not pay the rent due or leave. If a tenant pays rent, you cannot evict them. If a landlord fails to acknowledge paid rent, they'll be at fault.
Violation of the Terms of the Lease or Rental Agreement
Besides nonpayment of rent, you can also evict a tenant who fails to uphold the terms of the lease agreement. You must provide the tenant with a 10-Day Notice to Comply, giving the tenant ten days to fix the violation or move out. If a tenant fails to fix their lease violation, you can evict them.
Examples of rental agreement violations where you can use the written notice include illegal property alterations, unauthorized subletting, and unauthorized pets. You must also use the written notice to evict a tenant who provides falsified information when filling out their rental application.
Failure By the Tenant to Move Out After Their Lease Agreement Has Expired
A rental agreement runs for a specific period of time. After this period, the tenant must either move out or seek the landlord’s permission to continue living in the rental unit. When a tenant receives a notice of eviction, they should also look to move out or risk an eviction suit filed by the landlord.
If the tenant continues to stay without your permission, you can use that as a ground to evict them. The amount of notice to provide them depends on the type of tenancy.
Violation of Habitability Codes
Examples of such violations include damage to electrical wiring, causing negligent property damage, and providing harbor for pests. To begin the eviction process against the tenant, you must serve them a 5-Day Notice to Comply.
If the tenant disregards the written notice and stays, you can proceed to the next step. You might even be able to use the tenant's security deposit to fix the damage.
Engaging in Illegal Activity
You can also evict a tenant who engages in illegal activity while at the premises. Unlike other violations, however, Arizona does not specify how much notice you must provide tenants with.
In Arizona, illegal activity includes things like prostitution, homicide, illegal weapon discharge, assault, and serious property damage.
2. Filing and Serving an Eviction Complaint
This is the next process in the tenant eviction procedure in Arizona. If a tenant does not remedy the violation and remains on the rental unit, you must file a complaint in the appropriate court in order to proceed with the process. The fees vary depending on where you choose to file the complaint.
In a Justice Court, expect to pay $35, and $218 in a Superior Court in court costs. After a successful filing, the court will issue you with a summons. This must occur on the same day. The complaint and sermons must then be served to the tenant using a process server. This must be done at least two days before the eviction hearing.
The process server must then serve the tenant in a particular way. That is, serve them the copy in person, post a copy on a conspicuous area on the property, and then send another copy to the tenant via certified mail.
3. Attending the Court Hearing and Awaiting Judgment
Once the tenant has been served, the eviction process will normally take anywhere between 3 and 6 days. For evictions involving illegal activities, the hearing will usually take place three days after the issuance of the summons.
A tenant has a right to file a written answer against their eviction. However, this is not a requirement for the court appearance. They can still present any defenses or objections during the court hearing.
Some of the defenses the tenant may provide may include the following:
- The notice of eviction has errors
- The eviction process was in retaliation to them exercising their right
- You tried to evict them using self-help eviction methods
- You continued with the eviction despite them remedying the violation stated in the written notice
- Forced removal of the tenant, like throwing out the tenant's personal property
After a successful judgment, the Justice Court will issue you with a writ of restitution. This will be the tenant’s final notice to leave their rental unit.
It gives a tenant anywhere between 12 hours and 5 days to leave on their own. If they do not, the sheriff or a constable will return and remove them by force.
If you are a property owner, it is important to be aware of the ins and outs of the eviction process in Arizona. If you are still unsure how to navigate the Arizona law, get in touch with a top property management company in the area, Service Star Realty. Get in touch with us today to have our team by your side!
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for professional legal advice from a qualified attorney. Laws change, and this information may not be updated at the time of your hearing. For expert legal help, Service Star Realty can assist. We help property owners in Phoenix, AZ maximize their income by treating their homes as our own, renting to desirable tenants, and more. Get in touch for more information.
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