Arizona Eviction Process

Steps to an Eviction in Arizona

  1. Notice to Tenant
    • Written notice must be sent to the tenant at the begin of each eviction.
    • Timing of the Notice to the Arizona tenant.
  2. Filing the Eviction Lawsuit
  3. Eviction Hearing
    • Every eviction case has an in-person hearing. We appear at the hearing on your behalf so you do not have to take time out of your schedule to come to the justice court, courthouse. The property owner does not have to attend the hearing and rarely do.
    • Eviction Trial– Occasionally, an eviction case will be set for trial. An eviction trial is completely different than an eviction hearing.
  4. Eviction Judgment
    • An Eviction Judgment is the goal of the eviction hearing. The Eviction Judgment is made up of two basic components.
      • 1) Monetary award- This portion of the judgment orders the tenant to pay the landlord all back rent, late fees, court costs, and attorney’s fees.
      • 2) Vacate the Property- The second part of the eviction judgment orders the tenants to vacate the rental property within 5 calendar days. If the Arizona tenants do not voluntarily vacate within that time then we must file a Writ of Restitution. This orders a constable to go to the rental property and remove the renters, by force if necessary.
  5. Writ of Restitution
    • A Writ of Restitution is filed with the Court if the tenant fails to vacate the rental property within 5 calendar days of us obtaining the eviction judgment.
      • The Writ of Restitution is filed with the clerk of court and requires an additional filing fee. As of 2020 the filing fee for the Writ of Restitution in the justice court system is $115.
    • Tenant’s Belongings– If a tenant vacates your rental property but leaves behind their belongings then you must store their belongings for 14-days.
      • An Arizona landlord can charge a tenant the actual cost of moving their belongings and the actual cost of storing their belongings. However, a landlord cannot withhold a tenant’s belongings until they pay the judgment.

Governor Ducey: No Evictions

Governor Ducey Extends COVID-19 Eviction Protection until October 31, 2020

Governor Doug Ducey today signed an Executive Order extending a moratorium on residential evictions until October 31, 2020, providing continued protections for renters who are facing economic hardship as a result of COVID-19. The order ensures renters impacted by COVID-19 will be able to stay in their homes while extending the time to access rental assistance programs.

not granted to all arizona tenants

Governor Ducey’s executive order protects Arizona tenant from eviction if they have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. For example, they’ve been laid-off, had their hours reduced, actually had COVID-19 or someone else in the house has. The executive order comes into play after the entire eviction process is complete and a writ of restitution is filed to remove the tenants. If the constable goes to the property to remove the tenants but decides that they are protected under the Governor’s exemption.

motion to compel enforcement

If the constable won’t remove the tenants from your property then we have to file a Motion to Compel. With this motion we are asking the judge to order the tenants removed. A special hearing will be set. At this hearing, tenants can provide evidence and testimony showing that they fall under Ducey’s exemption and they should stay in the house. We will then be given the opportunity to explain why they are not exempted and should be removed. If the judge rules in our favor the constable will remove the tenants. However, if the judge rules in their favor they can’t be removed until the executive order expires, October 31, 2020

If you are wondering how Governor Ducey’s Executive Order is impacting your landlord – tenant situation then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

Book of Landlord Tenant Law

For several years I worked on a book, What to Expect When You’re Evicting as a tool to help Arizona landlords become better landlords and to avoid the pitfalls of having bad tenants. this book. If you would like a completely free, hard-copy of the book click HERE and send us a message. The book is our gift to you, it’s completely free. You don’t even pay for shipping or handling.

If you are an Arizona landlord and have a landlord – tenant dispute then please contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or send us a message HERE.

Evictions and Ownership Disputes

Arizona statutes and Arizona case law are clear that eviction cases (a.k.a. forcible entry and/or forcible detainer) are designed to address only the issue of possession and not property ownership. The limited scope of a forcible entry and detainer action has been strictly defined by Arizona statute. A.R.S. § 12-1177(A) states in relevant part:

On the trial of an action of Forcible Entry or Forcible Detainer, the only issue shall be the right of actual possession and the merits of title shall not be inquired into.

A.R.S. 12-1177(A)

Evidence offered to the Arizona Superior Court showing anything other than who is entitled to possess the property will be excluded from an eviction hearing. This means a defendant who wants to make a claim for ownership of the rental property must file a quiet title action and not raise the issue during an eviction hearing.

Proof of property Ownership 

The Arizona Superior Court’s inquiry into property ownership is limited to the extent that Plaintiff holds title to the property in dispute. If the Plaintiff – Arizona Landlord’s name appears on the trustee’s deed then the Court should not inquire into ownership any further.

The issuance of the Trustee’s Deed to Plaintiff is conclusive evidence that all statutory requirements for the Trustee’s Sale were satisfied and that Plaintiff has the right to possession of the Property.

A.R.S. § 33-811(B) further provides:

…the Trustee’s deed shall raise the presumption of compliance with the requirements of this chapter relating to the exercise of the power of sale and the sale of the trust property, including recording, mailing, publishing, and posting of the notice of sale and the conduct of the sale.

eviction cases are summary remedies

Arizona courts have held that litigation as to the validity of title “would convert a forcible detainer action into a quiet title action and defeat its purpose as a summary remedy.” Curtis v. Morris, 186 Ariz. 534, 535, 925 P.2d 259, 260 (1996).

For example, in Merrifield v. Merrifield, 95 Ariz. 152, 154, 388 P.2d 153, 155 (1963), the plaintiff held title to property pursuant to quitclaim deed which was valid on its face. The lower court nonetheless inquired into the merits of that title and refused to find the defendant guilty of forcible entry and detainer. The Arizona Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling because plaintiff was entitled to possession as the title holder and pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-1177, the trial court was prohibited from considering the merits of the plaintiff’s title. Accordingly, any evidence offered by Defendants to raise extrinsic issues or disprove Plaintiff’s title must be excluded.

In another case demonstrating the Superior Courts inability to inquire into ownership in a forcible detainer (see Olds Bros. Lumber Co. v. Rushing, 64 Ariz. 199, 167 P.2d 394 (1946), the Arizona Supreme Court stated: “[T]he statutes of this state make that very plain and indicate quite clearly that the right to actual possession is the only issue to be determined in such an action.” Id. at 204, 397. The court also discussed the legislative intent in limiting the scope of a forcible entry and detainer action stating:

The object of a forcible entry and detainer action is to afford 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 defendant were permitted to deny his landlord’s title, or to interpose customary and usual defenses permissible in the ordinary action at law. And for the same reason, the merits of the title may not be inquired into in such an action, for if the merits of the title and other defenses above enumerated were permitted and the court heard testimony concerning them, then other and secondary issues would be presented to the court and the action would not afford a summary, speedy and adequate remedy for obtaining possession of the premises.

Olds Bros. Lumber Co. v. Rushing, 64 Ariz. 199, 167 P.2d 394 (1946))

Id. at 204-05, 397. Because the trustee’s deed is conclusive evidence of Plaintiff’s title under A.R.S. § 33-811(B), and because the court is prohibited from inquiring into the merits of that title under A.R.S. § 12-1177(A), judgment must be rendered in favor of Plaintiff regardless of any defense of ownership the Defendants may raise.

Ownership Disputes in the Justice Court

The ownership of property and their interaction with evictions can become very complex. The above article discusses issues of ownership disputes and evictions in the Superior Court, however, the rules that apply to ownership disputes and evictions in the Justice Court (where most evictions take place) are completely different.

If you need help from an Arizona real estate attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

In Arizona, residential eviction cases are usually brought in the Justice Court system. A justice court judge has the authority to evict tenants for a myriad of reasons. They can evict for nonpayment of rent, material breach of lease agreement, wrongful holdover, etc. However, a Justice Court judge cannot make decisions or even hear arguments over ownership of the property in an eviction case.

A.R.S. § 22-201(D) addresses this issue:

Justices of the peace 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)

A.R.S. § 22-201(F) adds further clarification:

In actions between landlord and tenant for possession of leased premises, the title to the property leased shall not be raised nor made an issue.

A.R.S. § 22-201(F)

This means that if a Defendant – Arizona Tenant tells the Justice Court Judge they have an ownership interest in the property then the hearing will immediately be stopped and the matter forwarded on to the Superior Court.

Occasionally, when a case is sent to the Superior Court an Arizona landlord will respond, “but my tenant doesn’t own the property! It’s mine! They’re just lying! Why is the judge believing them? What could have been done to prevent this?”

While a landlords’ frustration is understandable it’s important to remember that the Justice Court judge is just following the law. Just because a Justice Court Judge moves a case into the Arizona Superior Court system 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.

For help with your Arizona landlord – tenant matters then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

Recovering Future Rents from Tenant

If a tenant that is under a current lease agreement who is evicted or abandons the property; can that landlord sue for all future rents thru the end of the lease? The answer is; “yes”, “no” and “maybe”.

Let me answer this question by using an example. Landlord and Tenant sign a 24 month lease agreement. Tenant promises to pay $1,000 each month for rent. However, 6 months into the lease term the tenant does not pay rent and so the landlord evicts him. Tenant still has 18 months left on his 2 year lease. Can landlord sue tenant for the remaining 18 months? Maybe, I will answer the question in greater detail below.

No, Landlords may not sue for future rents

Hypothetically, if the landlord finds a new tenant who begins paying rent the very next month then landlord may not sue the initial previous tenants for the future rent he should have paid. A landlord may not sue a tenant for future unpaid rents at an eviction hearing. Because the landlord won’t know how long the property will sit empty and therefore the courts award would be based off of speculation. But a landlord can sue for all past rents owed during an eviction lawsuit.

A landlord has a duty to “mitigate” his losses. A landlord mitigates his losses after an eviction by doing everything possible to re-rent the property. Landlord must take the same actions they would if re-renting the property under normal circumstances. The Arizona landlord cannot simply let the property sit empty for 18 months and then sue the tenant because the property sat empty. He must take all reasonable actions to re-rent the property as soon as possible. Again, a landlord may not sue a tenant for future rent through an eviction lawsuit. However, there is another option a landlord may take to recoup losses from a breaching tenant.

Yes, a Landlord MAY sue a former tenant for unpaid rents.

Yes, a landlord may sue a former tenant for unpaid rents after they were evicted from the Property. However, the landlord must first market and re-rent the Property before suing the former tenant. The law doesn’t allow for double-dipping, meaning you cannot sue a former tenant for terminating a lease 16 months earlier while collecting rent each month from a new tenant.

However, you can sue a previous tenant for all the months the Property sat vacant until it was re-leased to a new person. Using the example from above, let’s assume the landlord re-rented the Property one month after evicting the previous tenant. In this situation the Property only sat empty for one month and so the previous tenant is only liable to one months rent to the Landlord. Regardless of how many more months or years were left on a previous tenants lease, a landlord can only sue for the months the Property actually sat empty.

If you need help from an Arizona landlord – tenant attorney then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.