Eviction is the legal process where a landlord can terminate the lease of a tenant to regain possession of their rental property. Both landlords and tenants should take measures to understand how the eviction process works in Arizona before signing a lease. It’s important that landlords and tenants both understand the terms of the lease and agree to them before signing any legally binding contract.
In this comprehensive guide, we will provide a step-by-step overview of the eviction process in Arizona, including the legal requirements for serving an eviction notice, the steps involved in the eviction process, defenses to eviction, what to expect during an eviction hearing, consequences of eviction, alternatives to eviction and when you should consider hiring an experienced real estate attorney.
Introduction to the Eviction Process in Arizona
Eviction is a legal process that must be followed by landlords in Arizona. It is a complex process that can be difficult to understand, but we’ll explain how it works in this comprehensive guide, so you can better understand your rights and obligations.
In Arizona, a landlord can only evict a tenant for specific reasons per ARS 33-1301-1381, such as failure to pay rent or violating a lease agreement. A tenant must be served with a written notice to begin the eviction process.
When a tenant fails to tender rent to the landlord, the landlord can legally serve them with a notice and provide 5 days to pay the rent, unless the lease prescribes a longer time-period. The notice has to specify the reasons for it being served alongside the amount past due to bring the lease current. When the tenant doesn’t vacate the property or pay the monies due, the landlord can file a legal eviction action in court.
The Legal Requirements for Serving an Eviction Notice
Arizona landlords must follow specific legal requirements when serving an eviction notice. The notice must be in writing and must include specific information, such as the amount of rent owed, the date it is due, and the consequences of failing to pay or move out.
The statute provides that the landlord must give the tenant written notice that rent is unpaid, and that the rental agreement will terminate if rent is not paid in 5 days. ARS § 33-1368(B).
The notice must also be served in a specific manner, such as by hand-delivering it to the tenant. When a landlord fails to follow the proper legal procedures for eviction, it can delay the process or even result in a dismissal.
The Steps Involved in the Eviction Process
The eviction process in Arizona involves several steps. After the landlord serves the tenant with a written notice, the landlord can file a complaint for forcible entry and detainer with the court. Once the eviction complaint has been received, the court will move forward by scheduling a hearing, where both parties — the tenant and the landlord — will have the chance to present and argue the merits of their case to the court.
A writ of restitution will be issued by the court if it finds in favor of the landlord, per A.R.S. § 12-1181. This writ gives the landlord permission to regain possession of the rental property. The landlord must then coordinate with the local sheriff’s office to have the tenant removed from the property.
Defenses to Eviction in Arizona
In Arizona, a tenant has the right to defend themselves against eviction using different legal methods. A common defense used is in proving that the landlord didn’t follow the proper legal procedures, and or, that the lease was violated by the landlord and the tenant has a right to cure said breach.
When a tenant is able to present a viable defense, a court might be inclined to deny the eviction process outright or delay it. It’s very important that any tenant facing eviction fully understands their rights, and that they seek qualified legal counsel.
What to Expect During an Eviction Hearing
During an eviction hearing, the landlord and tenant will have an opportunity to present their case to the court. The court will review the evidence and make a decision based on the facts presented.
If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant must vacate the rental property within a specified timeframe, or the landlord will eventually invoke the writ of restitution, forcibly removing the tenant and allowing the landlord to regain possession of the rental property.
The Consequences of Evictions
Eviction can have serious consequences for both landlords and tenants. For landlords, eviction can result in lost rental income, legal fees, and damage to the rental property. For tenants, eviction can result in homelessness, damaged credit, and difficulty finding future housing.
This is why it’s imperative that both landlords and tenants fully understand the consequences of eviction and to explore alternative options, such as mediation or payment plans, before pursuing eviction.
Alternatives to Eviction in Arizona
In Arizona, there are several alternatives to eviction that landlords and tenants can explore. Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party helps the landlord and tenant reach an agreement. Payment plans allow tenants to pay back rent over time, rather than facing immediate eviction.
This is why landlords and tenants are encouraged by the courts to explore all possible alternatives to eviction before pursuing the eviction process. Eviction should only be used as a last resort.
Hiring an Eviction Attorney in Arizona
If you are a landlord or tenant facing eviction in Arizona, you’re going to want to seek legal advice. An experienced eviction attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations and can represent you in court.
When hiring an eviction attorney, it’s best to choose someone who is knowledgeable about Arizona eviction law and who has a track record of success in eviction cases.
Gottlieb Law has significant experiences with the challenges of terminating a rental agreement in Arizona. Our firm can help you determine if you have a qualifying cause under state law and pursue the process in court and with law enforcement, if necessary. Contact us today at 602-899-8188 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.