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)
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.