Evicting Arizona Tenant
Arizona Evictions

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Landlords may evict tenants for a variety of reasons, however, all eviction notices must be in writing. The amount of time a tenant has to either vacate the premises or fix the problem, if possible, is dependent upon the type of eviction. For example, if you have an unauthorized pet, the landlord could give you 10 days to either vacate the premises or get rid of the pet. If the problem involves such things as criminal activity or threatening other residents or apartment staff, the required notice to vacate is 24 hours and there is no opportunity to fix the problem. Once an Arizona eviction notice is given, there is a very short period of time, sometimes as little as 2 days, before a trial may be held. If you receive an eviction notice, you are encouraged to seek legal assistance from an Arizona attorney as soon as possible. 
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Forcible Detainer (Evictions) Actions A.R.S. §§ 33-1368; 33-1377

An eviction also known as a forcible detainer. Forcible detainer means that the tenant has remained in or on the property after the landlord has given written notice that the rental agreement has been terminated and that the tenant must leave the property. A landlord can file a forcible detainer action against a tenant for nonpayment of rent, if the tenant has breached the lease, or if the tenant has committed a crime. Forcible detainer actions seek the eviction of the tenant and the repossession of the rental property. They may also be filed if the tenant misrepresented information to the landlord or has unauthorized occupants in the residence.

Most forcible detainer actions involve an allegation that the tenant has not paid rent on time. If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord can give notice that he will terminate the lease if the rent is not paid within five days. After the five day notice, the landlord will most likely not be willing to accept partial payment because he will not be able to proceed with the case unless the tenant agrees in writing that the landlord can do so. A.R.S. § 33-1371. On day six, the landlord can file suit. The tenant’s inability to pay the rent is not a legal defense to the lawsuit. However, the tenant does have some options.

The tenant can pay all of the rent and any late fees any time before the forcible detainer is filed and avoid eviction. If the action has been filed, then the tenant must pay all past due rent, late fees, attorney’s fees and court costs. If the tenant does so before a judgment is entered, he can avoid eviction. After a judgment has been entered, reinstatement of the lease is solely in the landlord’s discretion.

As a general rule, the only defense to an allegation of nonpayment of rent is that the rent was actually paid, in the manner and in the amount provided in the lease.

Your day in Court

Forcible detainer cases are similar to other kinds of lawsuits; however, they move through the court system very quickly. The landlord begins the case by filing a summons and complaint and serving it on the tenant by one of the acceptable methods. The filing fee for the landlord is $36 (may change as of the date of this publishing). After receiving the lawsuit, the tenant should file an answer. The answer form gives the tenant several options to check and explain as to why the landlord should not prevail. The answer fee for the tenant is $26 (may change as of the date of this publishing). If the tenant is unable to afford the answer, the tenant may apply for a waiver of that fee. If the tenant believes that the landlord owes him money, then the tenant may file a counterclaim. Find Arizona Lawyers

The summons indicates that a trial will occur on the date listed on the summons but due to the extremely high volume of cases in your county, a trial may or may not occur on that date. However, if the tenant fails to appear, and the landlord or his attorney is present, then a judgment will most likely be entered against the tenant.

At the date and time listed on the summons, the justice of the peace will start calling cases. If both parties are there, the judge will ask the tenant whether the complaint is true. If the tenant says that the complaint is untrue, then the tenant will need to briefly tell the judge why. If the reason appears to be a legal defense, then the judge will need to take testimony from both sides and make a decision after a trial. The trial may or may not occur that day depending on the court’s schedule and workload. If either side needs a delay, they may ask for it but continuances will be granted for no more than three business days.

If a landlord receives a judgment against a tenant, they may apply for a writ of restitution for repossession of the residence in five days. The filing fee for the writ is $97 (subject to change). These writs are served by constables, who will direct the tenant to leave. The landlord can cut off utility services to the residence but cannot dispose of or sell any of the tenant’s personal property for 21 days. A.R.S. §§ 33-1368E – 33-1370.

Avoid the hassle associated with a writ of restitution by turning in the keys to the landlord. Doing so ends the tenant’s possession of the residence.

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