What is a Writ of Restitution?

Once an eviction judgment in obtained, an Arizona tenant has 5 calendar days to vacate the property. If the tenants do not voluntarily vacate within the 5 days, then an Arizona landlord can file a Writ of Restitution. The Writ of Restitution orders a constable–similar to a sheriff–to remove the tenants from the Property.

Upon arriving to the rental property, the Constable will let the tenants know that they have, anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to vacate the Property. The tenants will have enough time to pack a bag of their essentials and leave. Whether it’s by reason or force, the tenants will be leaving when the constable orders.

When Will the Constable Execute the Writ?

When will the constable visit the rental property and actually remove the tenants? It’s impossible to give a precise estimate and the timeframe can vary wildly. When the Writ of Restitution is initially filed with the court the filing clerk must take the paperwork to the judge for his/her signature. Once signed by the judge it is delivered to the Constable. Sometimes, a judge may be busy or out of town and the Writ sits on their desk for days before it is signed.

Once the Writ is signed then it is delivered to the Constable for execution, and this can be another delay in the process. Most justice courts in Arizona, only have one Constable. So, if the Constable is on vacation, sick or receives a large number of Writs at the same time then it can take as long as two weeks before he is knocking on the property door! Though it usually takes 6 to 9 days for the Constable to actually show up to the rental property.

changing the doorlocks

It is strongly advised that the locks to the property are changed once the tenants have been removed by the constable. Ideally, a locksmith can go to the property at the same time as the constable and immediately change the locks. Sometimes, a constable is not able to communicate with the landlord prior to executing the writ of restitution. In these situations, send the locksmith to the rental property just as soon as possible.

In the picture below, you can see the constable, locksmith, and property owner all present during the execution of the writ.

Maricopa County constable serving a Writ of Restitution

How will i know if the tenants have already vacated the rental property?

There is no “scientific” way of knowing whether or not the tenants have left. Typically, by this point the tenants are not contacting the landlord and so they are not going to send an email or text informing the landlord they have left the property.

If a landlord lives near the rental property, then I recommend driving by–but do not make contact with the tenants–and look to see if there are signs that they are moving. For example, is there a moving truck in the driveway? Are people carrying out boxes? If you drive by at night are the cars gone and lights turned off?

Or, conversely, when you drive by the rental property are cars in the driveway and lights on in the house? If so, this is a good indication that the tenants have not left and have no intentions of leaving.

what if the tenant returns?

It is a Class C misdemeanor for an Arizona tenant to return to the rental after they have been removed by the constable / sheriff. Of course the tenant can return with the landlord’s permission but if you are a landlord and the tenants return without your permission then call the police. Do not confront the tenants.

what if the tenants leave their belongings?

If the tenants leave behind their belongings, then an Arizona landlord must maintain the tenant’s belongings for a minimum of 14 days from the date the Writ of Restitution is executed. Click HERE to learn more about the 14-day process.

If you are an Arizona landlord and would like to know more about Writs of Restitution, then call the Dunaway Law Group by phone at 480-702-1610 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 states of Arizona and New York.

Evicted Tenants’ Belongings

Often, Arizona tenants will leave personal property on the premises after they have been evicted. As a landlord you cannot simply keep or throw away the former tenant’s belongings. The Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act requires the landlord to you maintain their possessions for at least 14 days.

Per A.R.S. ยง 33-1368(E) a landlord, must hold the evicted tenant’s possessions for a minimum of 14 days from the day the Writ of Restitution was executed (day the constable removed the tenants) issued. 

As A landlord, you may

  • Keep the tenant’s belongings that the rental property for the 14 days,
  • Move the tenant’s belongings to an off-site storage facility,
  • Require the tenant to reimburse you for the actual cost of moving and storing their belongings during the 14-day period,
  • Prohibit the tenants from ever returning to the property without your explicit permission.

As a landlord you may NOT

  • Arizona landlords cannot require their former tenant pay for eviction judgment prior to releasing the belongings to them. Meaning you cannot require a tenant pay you for all back rent, late fees, attorneys’ fees, and court costs prior to returning their belongings. Again, an Arizona landlord may only demand payment for the actual cost of storing and moving the tenants’ belongings.
  • Dispose of the tenant’s property prior to the expiration of the 14 days.  

catalogue the tenants’ belongings

You should itemize everything left behind by the tenants. If you do choose to remove the tenant’s belongings from the rental property, use considerable care, you will be responsible for any damage to their belongings. It is a good idea to photograph (take 100 – 200 pictures), and/or video the rental property so that you have an inventory of what was left behind. This will also give you the opportunity to catalog any damage to the rental unit itself. Take the inventory prior to moving any of the personal property from the rental unit.

After the 14-day period, if there has been no contact from the evicted party, and they have not claimed, or made and agreement to claim their property, an Arizona landlord may sell the items or dispose of the items that were left behind.

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

These blog posts are not intended, nor shall they be deemed to be the rendering of legal advice. Reading these blog posts does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor shall it impose an obligation on the part of the attorney to respond to further inquiry. The Dunaway Law Group limits its practice to the states of Arizona and New York.

Arizona Eviction Process

Steps to Residential Evictions in Arizona

1. notice to tenants

In Arizona, a written notice must be sent to the tenant(s) before beginning a residential eviction.

2. Filing the Lawsuit and Serving Tenants

An eviction Complaint, Summons, 6-month payment history, lease, residential eviction explanation sheet and proposed form of judgment are prepared by our Firm and filed with the corresponding court.

Once the pleadings have been filed with the court, they must be served on the tenants by a licensed process server.

3. Eviction Hearing

Every eviction case has a hearing. One of our attorneys will appear at the hearing on your behalf so you do not have to take time out of your schedule to come to one of the justice court, courthouse.

Eviction Trial– Occasionally, an eviction case will be set for trial. An eviction trial is completely different than an eviction hearing. Click HERE to read more about eviction trials.

4. Eviction Judgment

An Eviction Judgment is the goal of an eviction hearing. An Arizona eviction judgment is made up of two basic components.

Monetary Award– The monetary portion of the judgment, orders the tenants to pay the landlord all back rent, late fees, court costs, and attorney’s fees.

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 you must file a Writ of Restitution. This writ orders the court 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 Arizona rental property within 5 calendar days of us obtaining the eviction judgment.

Filing Fee- As of 2023 the filing fee for the Writ of Restitution in the Maricopa County justice court system is $115. Also, in cases where the rental property is rural and far from the court then the constable may charge an additional travel fee.

Tenant’s Belongings– If a tenant vacates but leaves behind their belongings then the landlord must store the tenant’s 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, the landlord cannot hold a tenant’s belongings hostage demanding that the eviction judgment is paid until the belongings will be released. Again, if an Arizona tenant reimburses the landlord for the actual cost of moving and storing the belongings then they must be returned.

If you have additional questions about the Arizona eviction process then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or 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 and New York.