Landlord/Tenant Residential Evictions
for Nonpayment of Rent
Guidelines for Evictions
by the Arizona Supreme Court Administrative Office
Choosing the Court
Representation in Court
Termination Notice, Eviction Complaint/Rent Due
Summons and Service of Complaint
Trial and Defenses
Judgement by Court and Eviction Notice
Key Words and Phrases Defined
Timeline for Eviction - Nonpayment of Rent
General Information and Limitations
This web page provides general information about eviction procedures in the rental of private residences. Laws and procedures are subject to change. For more specific information you are encouraged to contact an attorney or your local justice of the peace or Superior Court. Court employees cannot practice law and cannot give you legal advice.
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Depending upon the amount of damages involved a complaint for eviction may be filed in either the justice court precinct where the rental property is located or in the Superior Court for the county in which the rental property is located. An action may begin in the justice court if the damages are $10,000 or less. "For damages between $5,000 and $10,000, - a complaint could be filed in either justice court or the Superior Court. Damages greater than $10,000 require that the case be filed in the Superior Court. Both court cost and processing time are less for cases filed in the justice court. Ask the court about filing fees and expenses.
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Attorneys are not required to initiate eviction proceedings, or to represent the parties involved. In the justice court, an officer of a corporation which owns the property can represent it if authorized by the corporation, if going to court is not the officer's main duty, and if the lawsuit is filed in the corporation's name.
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- The landlord must give the tenant written notice that the tenant has five calendar days to pay the rent, or the rental agreement will be terminated and the tenant will be evicted. The notice can be given to the tenant when nonpayment occurs. The notice may be hand-delivered to the tenant or sent by certified or registered mail. If notice, is sent by certified or registered mail, the judge will assume the tenant received the notice on the date the tenant signs for it, or five calendar days after if was mailed, whichever occurs first.
- Court action begins when a complaint - made in writing and under oath - is filed with the court. The court or clerk's office has information about filing fees and other expenses.
- The complaint must name as defendants all tenants listed on the rental agreement, all other occupants known by the landlord and any unknown occupants who shall be listed as John Doe or Mary Doe. The complaint must show the address of the rental premises, how the five day notice was delivered, the amount of money due. It is helpful but not required to attach a copy of the rental agreement and five-day notice to the complaint.
- Trial will be set by the court clerk three to six business days after the complaint is filed.
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- The court issues a summons the day the landlord files a complaint. The summons should contain all of the names of known and unknown tenants (use "John Doe" or "Mary Doe if unknown) listed on the complaint. The summons must be served along with the complaint, at least two business days before the trial.
- The landlord must make arrangements to have the summons and complaint served in person by the sheriff, constable or private process server. If this method is unsuccessful, posting the summons and complaint on the front door of the rental unit if these documents are also sent the same day by registered or certified mail to the tenant's last known address can complete service. The tenant will be assumed to have received it three days after mailing.
- The summons and complaint must be served at least two business days before the trial. The summons requires the tenant(s) to appear in court and respond to the complaint.
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- Trial must he held no sooner than three and no later than six business days after the complaint was filed.
- If the landlord accepts payment of all rent due and reasonable late fees identified in the written agreement, attorney fees and court costs, the rental agreement is reinstated and, the case will be dismissed.
- The landlord should bring to the trial all documents related the action. This may include the written rental agreement (if one exists), a copy of the five-day notice, proof of service or hand delivery, proof of certified or registered mailing of notice, receipt book or rental-payment records showing when rent was due and how much tenant owed through the established rental period, and any other documents the landlord wants the judge to see. Witnesses, if appropriate, should also be present at the trial so the court can hear all the evidence at one time.
- The tenant may plead guilty or not guilty. "Guilty" means the defendant/tenant agrees everything in the landlord's complaint is true and the tenant has no defense against the eviction. "Not guilty" means the tenant has a legal defense to the eviction complaint.
- The tenant should bring rent receipts and all papers he/she wants the judge to see and any witnesses who can provide relevant information.
- The trial will be on the same day as the plea, if held in justice court or a few days later if in Superior Court. Any request to postpone a trial must be made in writing under oath. The justice of the peace or judge of Superior Court will consider the request and MAY grant the continuance for a brief period based upon "good cause shown."
- The tenant can respond in writing to the landlord's complaint, but can also go to trial without sending a written answer. To file a written answer, the tenant must pay a fee set by law. The tenant must appear in court at the trial to explain any legal defense to the judge. If the tenant fails to appear at the trial, the court will very likely enter an automatic plea of guilty for the tenant and enter a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff/landlord.
- The tenant can show as possible defense: rent not yet due, five-day notice not properly given, complaint filed before the-five-day notice expired, summons improperly served, retaliation by the landlord, rent already paid by the tenant, full rent payment including late fees and applicable costs refused by the landlord, or some other breach of rental agreement by the landlord.
- The tenant may file a counterclaim against the landlord - in writing - for any money he/she is entitled to arising out of the rental agreement or the Arizona Residential Landlord & Tenant Act. Fees must be paid to file a counter-claim.
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Judgment by Court and Eviction Order
- If, after the trial or hearing, the tenant is to be evicted, the judge shall order:
The judge may also order:
- rent due as provided in the rental agreement;
- Any charges due as allowed by the rental agreement.
The landlord can garnish or otherwise collect amounts due from the tenant even after the tenant is evicted or leaves. Garnishment actions follow specific procedures and processes. Forms and general information are available from the clerk's office.
To evict the tenant, the landlord must go back to court after the trial and have the court issue an eviction order - a Writ of Restitution. An eviction order is issued no earlier than the sixth calendar day after judgment if the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit. The order instructs the sheriff or constable to evict the tenant. A fee will be charged by them to serve the Writ.
The landlord should not accept any post-judgment payments from the tenant without a clear written agreement about the conditions that the tenant must observe to remain in the dwelling.
The landlord shall hold personal property of the tenant that remains on the premises after the Writ of Restitution has been issued for a period of up to 21 calendar days unless the parties agree to a longer period. The landlord must prepare an inventory and notify the tenant of the cost and location of storage. Personal property may be stored in an unoccupied dwelling unit owned by the landlord including the unit vacated by the tenant named on the Writ or off premises if an unoccupied dwelling unit is not available. If the tenant does not pay the landlord for the cost of removal and storage for the time held, the landlord might dispose of the property as established bylaw.
The landlord may bring a separate action after eviction to recover damages associated with the tenant's breach of the rental agreement.
- Attorney fees, filing fees and jury fees against the tenant.
- Damages alleged and proven.
- Rent ordered due by the court cannot be greater than the amount that was due under the rental agreement. Other charges cannot be ordered paid to the landlord by the tenant unless such charges are provided for in a written rental agreement.
- The judge may award attorney fees and court costs against the landlord if the tenant wins the trial.
- The landlord may be ordered to pay amounts due to the tenant for violations of the rental agreement or the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act if the tenant files a counterclaim against the landlord and "wins" the counterclaim.
- No eviction papers can be served on the tenant by the sheriff or constable unless:
No eviction papers maybe served earlier than six calendar days after the trial or judgment
The landlord can agree to let the tenant, stay on the premises after an eviction action. Any agreements to permit the tenant, to stay should be in writing and specific about the conditions of the agreement.
- the landlord wins at the trial
- the landlord gets an order of eviction (Writ of Restitution) from the court.
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Either party can appeal the decision of the court. There are several different elements to an appeal, and additional costs may be incurred. Contact the clerk's office in the court where the case' was heard if you wish to appeal the decision.
Keywords and Phrases Defined
- Business/Judicial Days
- Days on which the court is open - which does not include weekends and holidays.
Calendar Days - Every day on the calendar including weekends and holidays
- A document the landlord files with the court stating how the tenant violated the rental agreement.
- Rental Agreement
- A written or oral contract for rent of a residence.
- A formal written order from the court in which the complaint was filed requiring the tenant(s) to appear in court at a specific time to respond to the complaint.
- Writ of Restitution
- An eviction order signed by a judicial officer.
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At any time after failure to pay rent:||1. Notice of Termination of Rental Agreement||
The complaint is not filed until after the five-day notice expires:||2. Complaint
Summons must be served at least two business days before plea or trial:||3. Service of Summons|
May be followed immediately by trial plea of tenant in justice court:||4. Plea of Tenant|
Postponement no longer than three days in justice court, five days in Superior trial court, for good cause shown, supported by an affidavit:||5. Postponement of Trial|
The trial will be held no sooner than three days, no more than six days, from day the complaint is filed or the plea entered:||6. Trial and Judgement|
Eviction is no sooner than the sixth calendar day after the trial and judgment.||7. Eviction order served.|
How to count time.
- Never count the day a notice is delivered, or the complaint is served; start counting the next day.
- Count either calendar or business days as indicated.
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See additional articles for landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities listed under subtopics under Housing or obtain a printed version from any justice of the peace or Superior Court. For advanced information click the subtopic for Arizona Residential Landlord & Tenant Act on this website. These references are also available at your local library.
There are limitations on the information outlined above. Evictions for reasons other than nonpayment of rent are different and these time frames and-procedures may not apply. This web page does not address problems related to:
- Public housing managed by a governmental agency, business rentals or any non-residential rental.
- Tenant's right to make repairs and deduct from rent, or other self-help rights of the tenant.
- Eviction for health and safety reasons, abandonment by the tenant or non-compliance with the rental agreement by the landlord or tenant.
- Mobile home lot rentals (but it does apply to rentals of mobile homes).
For further information contact Community Information and Referral services at its statewide, 24-hour, bilingual help line.
(602) 263-8856 or 1-800-352-3792
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