Do you own or rent a property and want to learn more about the eviction process?
From giving the proper notice to dealing with rent payment issues to handling court cases, there's a lot to learn. With our experience in managing properties in Phoenix, we have come up with an overview of the eviction process and laws related to it in Maricopa County, Arizona.
What Is an Eviction?
An eviction is the removal of a tenant from a landlord’s rental property. Although most landlords don’t like having to do them, it is a necessary recourse in the rental property business when a tenant does not pay their rent.
Evictions are always a possibility, even with the tenants you like. Each state has its own policy in regard to the eviction process. Always refer to them, and make sure your actions adhere to the law. In this article, we will be discussing Arizona’s laws on the eviction process.
Reasons for Eviction
There are a number of reasons a landlord might evict a tenant in Phoenix, Arizona. Tenants can be evicted on the grounds of:
- The nonpayment of rent
- Violating the rental agreement/lease
- Exhibiting illegal behavior/harming the health and safety of the premises
Before a landlord can evict a tenant from the rental unit, there are specific procedures that must be followed as part of the legal eviction process. A landlord must provide notice to the tenant before terminating the rental agreement/lease. There are different types of notices according to each possible eviction case. It will depend on the reason for the eviction in Phoenix, AZ.
When a Tenant Fails to Pay
Arizona law stipulates that a tenant must be given a 5-day notice to pay their rent and potentially be given late fees. If, after five days, the tenant is still not paying rent, the landlord can file an eviction case on the sixth day or thereafter. Eviction actions must follow specific steps and be evaluated by the court or else risk becoming "self-help" evictions that are against the law.
Violating the Lease/Rental Agreement
When proceeding with the eviction process, you must hand the tenant a written notice. There are two kinds of notices a tenant can be served when he or she violates a lease/rental agreement.
Each notice depends on the nature of the violation.
- Arizona law stipulates that a tenant must be given a five-day notice to resolve a violation in regard to failing to maintain his property when it risks the safety and/or health of other tenants. Tenant must perform the maintenance of the rented property. If there is no maintenance/repair after five days, the landlord may proceed with filing an eviction case in court.
- Arizona law stipulates that a tenant must be given a ten-day notice to resolve a violation in regard to breaking the lease/rental agreement. This includes falsifying information on his application. Tenant must remedy or fix the violation. If there is no action to fix the violation after ten days, the landlord may proceed with filing an eviction case in court.
When Tenants Behave in an Illegal Manner
Arizona laws allow the landlord to provide the tenant with an unconditional quit notice. This informs the tenant that the lease is immediately terminated. The tenant will not be given any chance to fix/remedy the situation. The landlord can promptly file an eviction case the same day the notice has been served to the tenant.
This only applies to illegal behaviour such as:
- Discharging a firearm
- Assaulting or threatening harm to others
- Perpetrating homicide
- Carrying out acts of prostitution
- Engaging in criminal street gang activity
- Selling or using illegal drugs
When a Landlord Cannot Terminate a Lease
A landlord cannot force a tenant to move out before the end of the term/lease agreement when he or she has no grounds to terminate. Based on Arizona laws, a landlord must identify the type of tenancy and act accordingly:
- For month-to-month tenancy, Arizona law stipulates that a tenant must be given a 30-day notice to move out of the rental. If the tenant chooses to remain after 30 days, the landlord may proceed with filing an eviction case.
- For fixed-term leases, the landlord must wait until the end of the lease term. If the agreement is within six months or one year, the tenant can still opt to stay in the property before the lease expires. The landlord will serve no notice unless it was stipulated in the lease.
Reasons Tenant Cannot be Evicted
In Arizona, tenants cannot be evicted on the grounds of:
- Paying their past due rent, fees, and legal court expenses in a dispute with the landlord
- Correcting a violation of the lease/rental agreement within the prescribed time provided in their Notice to Cure/Correct
- Being discriminated against
- Reporting a health code violation
Arizona Renters Rights and Defences to Evictions
Renters can also defend themselves against evictions in court. The following are common grounds for tenants to fight a landlord’s evictions:
- Landlord used illegal self-help procedures for eviction
- Landlord failed to follow the correct eviction procedure
- Landlord cannot justify eviction according to tenant not paying his rent
- Landlord failed to conduct necessary repairs
- Landlord pursuing eviction when tenant has corrected the lease violation
- Landlord pursuing eviction to retaliate against tenant’s lawsuit
- Landlord discriminating against tenant
Tenant Removal in Arizona
Note that landlords can only remove a tenant if they win the eviction court case. Keep in mind, however, that only a law enforcement officer is authorized to remove the tenant. It is illegal in Arizona for a landlord to forcibly remove a tenant from their rental property.
Should a tenant leave any of their personal items behind, a landlord cannot immediately get rid of it. Instead, he or she is required to write to the tenant that they have a 21-day period to reclaim their possessions. After the prescribed 21 days, should the tenant choose not to return for their items, a landlord can discard or sell them.
If a storage fee is charged for keeping the possessions, the landlord can reasonably pass on the charges to the tenant. Should the landlord sell the property, they can use the proceeds as payment for the fees owed by the tenant. If the proceeds are more than the fees, the landlord is responsible for returning the excess money to the tenant.
The Bottom Line
If you have legitimate grounds for an eviction, proceed accordingly. It is important to remember to set your personal feelings aside. You are running a business and you need to make money from your Phoenix, AZ investment.
However, always make sure that you are guided by the proper eviction procedure in the state of Arizona. The rules are set to protect the rights of both landlords and tenants. Also, you should be aware that squatters fall under an entirely different eviction category.
If you need the services of a professional property management company, contact Paramount Management & Realty!