CDC Bans (Some) Evictions

On September 1, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) released an Order titled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19” (the “Order”).  The Order is effective Friday, September 4, 2020, and expires December 31, 2020. 

ORDER APPLIES TO ALL 50 STATES

This Order applies to all states without an existing eviction moratorium providing “the same or greater level of public-health protection” than the Order’s requirements. The Order will apply in Arizona because the Order provides greater protection than Governor Ducey’s Executive Order halting the execution of writs of restitution.

Based on the Order’s language, I believe a landlord can still serve a 5-day non-payment of rent notice and even file an eviction action for non-payment in court, but if the tenant presents the landlord with the declaration, the writ of restitution could not be executed and the tenant could not be removed from the property. Unfortunately, however, we do not know this for sure.  

It is possible the Order was intended to prohibit even the filing of an eviction action, this is a question that will likely need clarification from the Arizona Supreme Court.

ORDER IS limited TO EVICTIONS FOR NON-PAYMENT

The Order only applies to cases involving non-payment of rent.  It does not prohibit evictions based on criminal activity; threats to health and safety of others; damaging or posing an “immediate and significant” risk of damage to property; violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or violating other contractual obligations. I believe, based on the Order’s language, that non-renewals will still be permissible—although this is just an initial opinion.

TENANT’S DECLARATION OF PROTECTION

To invoke the Order’s protection, the tenant must provide their landlord with an executed declaration stating that:

  1. The tenant has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing; 
  2. The tenant either: (i) expects to earn not more than $99,000.00 in annual income in 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing jointly); (ii) was not required to report any income to the IRS in 2019; or (iii) received a stimulus check pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act; 
  3. The tenant is unable to pay the full rent because of substantial income loss, loss of compensable work hours or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses; 
  4. The tenant is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as their circumstances permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and 
  5. An eviction would likely render the tenant homeless or force them to move into close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting because the individual has no other housing options. 

Note, landlords do not get to verify the information in the affidavit, the tenant is protected by simply signing the declaration and delivering it to the landlord! Additionally, this Order applies to ALL types of residential rental properties: houses, buildings, mobile homes, land in a mobile home park, or similar dwellings leased for residential purposes.

SEVERE PUNISHMENT FOR LANDLORDS WHO VIOLATE THE ORDER

The Order states that the U.S. Department of Justice may initiate court proceedings against landlords for violations. Penalties for violating the Order are extreme; they are both criminal and financial. For individual landlords: If the violation does not result in a death, the penalty is a fine of not more than $100,000 or one year in jail, or both; If the violation results in a death, the penalty is a fine of not more than $250,000 or one year in jail, or both; 

SUMMARY

For now, it appears we can proceed with eviction filings. However, if a resident provides a signed declaration or attestation—that even closely resembles what is required in the Order—immediately stop all eviction action.

If you are an Arizona landlord and have questions about how the CDC’s new Order applies to your rental properties then contact the landlord – tenant attorneys at the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

Abandonment of Property

A NOTICE OF ABANDONMENT IS REQUIRED

In Arizona, a Notice of Abandonment must be posted to a rental property before a landlord can take possession of the property.

If you are an Arizona landlord and need help providing your Arizona tenants with a Notice of Abandonment then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.

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.

Gov. Ducey: Some 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–for non-payment of rent–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 tenants 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.

*** VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: THIS WAS SUPERCEDED BY THE CDC’S STAY ON EVICTION***

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.