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Evictions and Claims of Ownership

Claims of Ownership in Justice Court Evictions

Eviction lawsuits are designed to address the issue of possession and not ownership. Eviction lawsuits are to provide a summary, speedy and adequate remedy for obtaining possession of premises withheld by tenants, and for this reason this objective would be entirely frustrated if the tenants were permitted to deny the landlord’s title, or to interpose customary and usual defenses permissible in the ordinary action at law.

The merits of the title may not be inquired into in eviction actions, otherwise the action would not afford a summary, speedy and adequate remedy for obtaining possession of the rental property. The limited scope of eviction cases is strictly defined by A.R.S. § 22-201(D) which states;

Justice Court Judges, “have jurisdiction to try the right to possession of real property when title or ownership is not a subject of inquiry in the action. If in any such action the title or ownership of real property becomes an issue, the justice shall so certify in the court record, at once stop further proceedings in the action and forward all papers together with a certified copy of the court record in the action to the Superior Court, where the action shall be docketed and determined as though originally brought in the Superior Court.”

A.R.S. § 22-201(D)

Landlord Frustration

Often, when an eviction case is transferred from the Justice Court to the Superior Court, a landlord will respond, “But my tenant doesn’t own the property! It’s mine! They’re just lying! Why does the judge believe them?”

While a landlords’ frustration is understandable, it is important to remember that the Justice Court Judge is just following the law, it does not mean they believe the tenant. Additionally, it does not mean that the tenant did something right or that we made some kind of a mistake. It simply means the Judge is following the law.

If you need help from an experienced Arizona attorney, then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.

Eviction Statistics in Arizona

Believe it or not, there are patterns to evictions in Arizona. There is a distinct pattern in the number of evictions that take place during different times of the year. For instance, each year there is a spike of evictions in January, why is this?

landlords DELAY EVICTIONS DURING HOLIDAYS

Contrary to popular believe most landlords are actually nice people who have feelings too. Many landlords will not evict tenants during the holiday season. Beginning with Thanksgiving and going through New Year’s Day, landlords will often say, “I don’t want to evict someone during the holiday season and so I’ll just wait until the new year to begin the eviction process.”

justice COURTS WILL DELAY THE EVICTIONS

Experienced Arizona landlord – tenant attorneys and property managers know that the justice court judges and constables will do whatever they can to not evict an Arizona resident during the holiday season. After an eviction judgment has been granted by the court the tenants have just five (5) calendar days to vacate! If the Arizona tenant does not vacate within those five (5) calendar days, then we can go back into court and file for a Writ of Restitution. Writs must first be signed by the judge and then delivered to the constable for service.

Judges know that evictions are time sensitive and so they typically sign the order granting the Writ of Restitution almost immediately upon receiving it. However, during the holidays judges are often out of town which means there is no one to sign the writ. Additionally, even when the judges are in the office they are very slow to sign the writs. This is done in an attempt to slow down the actual eviction. Judges “misplace” them or are “too busy” working on other matters to sign the writs immediately. So it can take days before a judge will sign the writ.

Once the writ gets to the Arizona constables there is another big slow down in the eviction process. Similar to judges many constables leave town during the holiday season and so they are not physically able to execute the Writs of Restitution. Furthermore, I have had constables tell me to my face that they won’t execute writs near Thanksgiving or Christmas.

For the reasons mentioned above there has been a build-up of delayed evictions that are then started in January.

arizona EVICTIONS AND TAX REFUNDS

I believe the decreased number of Arizona evictions in February, March, and April are directly correlated to tax refunds. Many people receive large tax refunds that they can use to pay their rent. I remember the first time I passed through those months as an eviction attorney. Sure enough each year when the tax refund season is over then the evictions increase. 

One of the highest months for evictions each year is June. I think the spike during the beginning of summer has something to do with kids getting out of school and families wanting to move. When families are struggling economically and they want to move and they may stop paying rent at their current home and use that would-be rent money and use it as rent and security deposit, etc. at the new property.

pima county eviction statistics

The Pima County Consolidated Justice Court has a webpage with very detailed eviction statistics for its precinct. Click HERE.

If you are a landlord and need help resolving a dispute with a tenant, then please contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.

Arizona Settlement Conference

Mandatory Settlement Conferences

Settlement conferences are mandatory in Arizona civil cases involving disputes of more than $50,000. Settlement conferences are required in an attempt to alleviate the Arizona Superior Courts from managing all the cases by themselves. The rule for mandatory settlement conferences is done in part to help the parties settle without a trial.

Rule 16.1 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure that makes settlement conferences mandatory in any cases where the amount in dispute is more than $50,000. If the amount in dispute is less than $50,000 then an Arbitration Hearing is held–in lieu of the Settlement Conference.

Rule 16.1(c) requires that,

“every party and its counsel must attend a settlement conference…Additionally, each party must have a representative present who has actual authority to enter into a binding settlement agreement.”

Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure 16.1

settlement conference memo

In preparation of the Settlement Conference a memorandum must be prepared and delivered to the settlement mediator and the opposing party.

The Settlement Conference Memo must contain; a) general description of the claims, defenses, and issues in the action, and each party’s position on each claim, defense, and issue. b) a general description of the evidence the party anticipates presenting at trial. c) a summary of any settlement negotiations that have already occurred. d) each party’s assessment of the likely outcome if the action proceeds to trial, and e) any other information that might be helpful in settling the action.

Retired judges often serve as the mediator for the settlement conference. During the day of the conference the parties typically are located in separate rooms and never speak directly to each other.

shaking hands settlement conference

settlement conference outcomes

It is important to note that the mediator will not making any decision or ruling. The mediator does not have the authority to make a binding ruling. Plus the mediator cannot force either party into accepting or rejecting a settlement offer made by the opposing party. They are simply there to help each understand the other person’s point of view and to see if there is any middle ground upon which all can agree.

Furthermore, the mediator will remind the parties of the huge costs, risk, time, energy and stress that are required to forward a case to trial.

the dunaway law group can help you

If you need help from an experienced lawyer, then contact the Dunaway Law Group by messaging us HERE or calling us at 480-389-6529.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.