Arizona eviction laws follow the same general eviction process:
Every eviction process is different and dependent on the lease/rental agreement signed by the tenant and the landlord. It is always best to exercise meticulous file-keeping to avoid errors that the tenant could exploit.
This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Confirm procedures with your county to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Failure to pay rent on time
Rent is usually considered late a day past its due date. A grace period may be available if stated in the lease/rental agreement.
Before a landlord can start the eviction process, they are required to give the tenant an official written 5-Day Notice to Pay.
If the tenant pays the rent within those 5 days, then the eviction process does not continue. If the tenant is unable to pay, the landlord reserves the right to continue with the eviction process.
2. Violation of the lease/rental agreement
The rental lease agreement has to be upheld by both tenant and landlord for the entire duration of the tenant’s stay. Agreements may vary from tenant to tenant.
If a tenant violates any terms from the lease agreement, the landlord must issue a 10-Day Notice to Comply. If the tenant resolves the issues on time, the eviction process does not continue.
Lease violations may include:
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Keeping pets in pet-free properties, etc.
- Tenant’s employment status
- Writing down false or misleading information on the rental application
- The number of people living in a rental unit
- Tenant’s personal information
- Tenant’s criminal and eviction history
Tenants charged with writing down false or misleading information about their criminal and eviction history cannot be corrected. They have 10 days to vacate the property.
If the tenants fail to resolve the violations or leave the property on time, then the landlord may continue with the eviction.
3. Conducting illegal activity
If a tenant has engaged in illegal behavior within the property, the landlord must issue an official written Notice to Vacate. The number of days a landlord gives a tenant to vacate is up to them.
Examples of illegal activities are:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Unlawful discharge of a weapon
- Causing serious property damage
- Endangering the health, welfare, and/or safety of the people in the rental property
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
Landlords are advised to keep a close eye on their tenants to make sure illegal behavior does not go unnoticed. If the tenant remains in the property after the notice period given by the landlord is up, the eviction process can continue.
4. Material health or safety violation
Arizona law takes into account the health, building, safety, and housing codes. If a tenant violates any of these codes, the landlord must issue a 5-Day Notice to Comply to allow the tenant time to fix the problem.
Violations under this could include:
- Not throwing out the trash for long periods of time, inviting bugs and/or rodents.
- Damaging the electrical wiring of a unit
- Ruining the plumbing fixtures of a unit
The tenant has to finish repairs or fix the problem by the end of the 5 days. If they are unable to do so, the landlord may continue with the eviction process.
See: ARS § 33-1341
5. Non-renewal of the lease after the rental period ends
In Arizona, landlords cannot evict tenants or force them to vacate the property without probable cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules, they can stay until their rental period ends.
But if the tenant stays in the property even a day after their lease/rental agreement ends and has not arranged for renewal, landlords can issue a written notice to move.
Filing a Complaint
1. How to File a Complaint
The eviction process can only begin after the issuance of the appropriate written notice. The landlord must have allowed enough time to pass before filing for eviction.
The eviction process is as follows:
- Proceed to the justice court the rental property belongs to
- File a complaint
- Pay the fees
It takes about 5 to 30 days from the Notice to Vacate/Quit issuance, depending on the reason for eviction and the lease agreement.
Serving the Tenant
1. How to Serve a Tenant
The summons is issued on the same day the complaint is filed. A certified process server is in charge of serving the document to the tenant at least 2 days before the eviction hearing is scheduled.
There are several methods to accomplish this:
- Personal Service: The court official delivers the Summons and Complaint to the tenant in person
- Posting: The server leaves a copy of the documents for the tenant. It is placed in a secure and visible position by the entrance of the tenant’s rented property. Another copy is mailed to the tenant via certified mail.
Neither the landlord nor their lawyer is allowed to serve the documents to the tenant. Only a certified process server can do so.
2. After Serving the Summons and Complaint
The tenant has at least 2 days before the eviction hearing to prepare.
Either the landlord or the tenant can request for a postponement of the hearing (called a continuance) for 3 days in justice court or 5 days in superior court.
3. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and replied
In the state of Arizona, a reply from the tenant is not necessary for a court date to be scheduled. They only have to show up to the hearing.
The landlord needs to support the claim with evidence and show it during the hearing.
This could include, but is not limited to the following:
- Copy of the deed and lease
- Rent receipts and ledgers
- Bank statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations, correspondence, etc.
If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant has 5 days to appeal the ruling. But if the eviction is for illegal activity, then the tenant only has 24 hours to appeal the ruling.
The documents should be served to the tenant at least 2 days before the hearing is scheduled.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgment and get a Judgment for Possession
The landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against the tenant. If the tenant does not show up to the hearing, the landlord wins by default.
If the landlord does not win, they can still appeal within 5 days post-judgment for reconsideration.
Eviction hearings are scheduled 3 to 6 days after the complaint was filed.
If the eviction is about illegal activity, the hearing is scheduled 3 days after the complaint was filed.
They have 24 hours to 5 days to appeal the ruling.
1. After the landlord wins the case
Provided that the tenant does not appeal for reconsideration, a Writ of Restitution is issued no less than 12 to 24 hours after the landlord wins the case if the eviction was about illegal activity.
For any other reasons for eviction the Writ of Restitution is issued no earlier than 5 days after judgment was issued.
The Writ of Restitution gives the tenant a maximum of 12 hours to 5 days, depending on the reason for eviction to vacate the property.
2. Move out process
The sheriff executes the Writ as soon as they receive it. Once the Writ is given to the tenant and/or pasted on the entrance to the rental unit, the tenant has to move out with additional time.
Only the sheriff is allowed to remove the tenant by force. If the tenant refuses, they will be arrested.
If the tenant leaves behind any belongings, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing and give the tenant 14 days to reclaim their property. In the case that the tenant does not collect their property after 14 days, the landlord can sell or dispose of the property.
Any money earned by the landlord for the tenant’s belongings can be used to cover unpaid rent and any other outstanding costs.
Money leftover from this has to be sent back to the tenant.
Even if the landlord wins the case, they are not allowed to engage in illegal methods of eviction.
The tenants have 12 hours to 5 days upon judgment being passed in favor of the landlord to vacate the property.
Arizona Eviction Timeline
Below is the average timeline for a complete eviction process. This timeline does not include special cases such as requests for an appeal.
On average, it would take anywhere between 9 – 41 days for a complete eviction process.
If either a tenant or a landlord applied for a re-judgment of the case, an additional 5 days could be added to the entire process.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part is vital to our case and may be the reason that it falls through if not done correctly.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, a letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. In some cases, the violation is bad enough that it does not need to be listed in the agreement between the landlord and tenant. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
Can I force a tenant to move out in Arizona?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes.
In the state of Arizona, tenants can sue their landlord for the following amounts:
- Two months’ rent or twice the actual damages, whichever is greater
- Return of security deposit and prepaid rent if the tenant decides to terminate the lease
As another consequence of forceful eviction, the statute allows tenants to stay in the property and provides for the tenant’s court costs and attorney fees.
Which eviction methods are illegal in Arizona?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenant’s electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent the tenant from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenant’s property
What are the penalties for a self-help eviction in Arizona?
According to Arizona Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction prohibiting any further violation during the court action.
What other laws should I be aware of in Arizona?
Landlords should be aware of the changes made to the Eviction Policies in the state of Arizona. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also wise for landlords to check out laws on Security Deposits. These deposits protect the landlord in case the tenants violate any terms in the lease/rental agreement or fail to pay their rent.
- Azcourts: COVID-19 Processing Eviction Matters
- NOLO: The Eviction Process in Arizona: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers
- Azcourts: Justice Court Filing Fees
- NOLO: Arizona Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines
- Azcourts: Private Process Server
- Azcourts: Superior Court Filing Fees
- Azleg: 33-1341. Tenant to Maintain Dwelling Unit
- Azleg: 33-1368. Noncompliance with Rental Agreement by Tenant; Failure to Pay Rent; Utility Discontinuation; Liability for Guests; Definition
- NOLO: Arizona Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy
- Azcourts: Limited Jurisdiction Courts
- NOLO: Consequences of Illegal Evictions
- Azcourts: Forms and Notices