As an Arizona landlord, you’re able to evict a tenant for a number of reasons. The most common reasons include excessive property damage, nonpayment of rent, and gross violation of the lease agreement.
An effective tenant eviction requires a landlord to strictly adhere to the Arizona eviction process. Regardless of the violation committed, you must not take matters into your own hands, for instance, by shutting down utilities, locking your tenant out, or removing their belongings. These are all examples of a self-help eviction and are illegal.
Now, the first step in the legal eviction process is to send a written notice to terminate the lease or rental agreement. The type of notice to serve is dependent on the reason for eviction.
The following are the rules and procedures that landlords in Arizona must follow when evicting their tenants.
Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause
Before you can evict a tenant or even send notice, you must ensure that you have legal cause to do so. As already mentioned, the common reasons for eviction include nonpayment of rent and other violations of the lease.
Once you have identified a legally justifiable reason to evict your renter, you must serve them a notice that is relevant to the just cause. These notices include:
5-Day Notice to Pay Rent
Has the tenant failed to pay rent when it’s due? You can give them the 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent if you wish to evict them. The notice must inform the tenant that they have 5 days to pay all due rent or risk getting evicted.
If the tenant neither pays the rent nor moves out within 5 days, you can move to court and file an eviction lawsuit.
5-Day Notice to Comply
If your tenant violated the safety and health codes by letting trash pile up or not addressing a pest issue, you can serve them with the 5-Day Notice to Comply. This gives them 5 days to fix the violation or else risk getting evicted. If the tenant doesn’t fix the violation within the notice period, you can move the matter to the courts.
10-Day Notice to Comply
If your tenant violated the terms of the lease or rental agreement you may have cause to evict them. Examples of lease violations can include keeping an unauthorized pet, subletting the unit without permission, or smoking inside the unit when the lease prohibits it.
In addition, this type of notice is still applicable in cases where a tenant provides false information on the application.
The 10-Day Notice to Comply gives a tenant 10 days to fix the violation or risk getting evicted. If the tenant stops the violations and corrects the situation, then no further action is necessary. However, if they continue violating the agreement, then you can file a lawsuit against them.
Unconditional Quit Notice
Unlike other notices, this doesn’t give a tenant an opportunity to remedy the violation they have committed. They must move out immediately or else get evicted through a court order. This type of notice only applies in situations of criminal activity.
Notice for Lease Termination Without a Legal Cause
If you don’t have a legal cause then you cannot expect your tenant to move out until their term has expired.
In a month-to-month agreement, you must notify the tenant 30 days before the end of their leasing period that you’re terminating their rental agreement. If the tenant doesn’t move after 30 days, you can move to court for assistance.
In a fixed-term lease, you must wait until the lease expires on its own. Unlike rental agreements, you don’t have to notify your tenant when operating a lease agreement. The only exception is if the lease specifically requires it.
Tenant Eviction Defenses in California
Even though you may have legitimate reasons to evict your tenant, your tenant has a right to fight the suit and defend themselves. In Arizona, the following are common tenant eviction defenses:
- You used ‘self-help” procedures to evict the tenant. As already mentioned, it’s illegal for a landlord to take matters into their own hands. Only a court can order the eviction of a tenant. And even then, only a sheriff can carry out the physical eviction.
- You failed to follow the proper eviction procedure. When evicting a tenant in Arizona, you must follow all the procedures the statewide eviction law prescribes. For example, you must start the eviction process by serving the tenant with a proper eviction notice.
- You failed to maintain the unit to habitable standards. As a landlord, you have a responsibility to ensure your property meets all applicable health, safety, and building codes in Arizona. If you don’t, your tenant has the right to “Repair and Deduct.” You cannot then try to evict the tenant for nonpayment of rent, as they would be exercising their right to withhold rent until the unit meets all habitability codes.
- The eviction is a retaliatory act. It’s illegal for landlords in Arizona to evict their tenants in retaliation. For example, trying to evict them after they have complained to a government agency or if they have joined or organized a tenants’ union.
- The eviction is an act of discrimination. It’s illegal under the Fair Housing Act for landlords to discriminate against a current or prospective renter based on a protected class. Gender, race, color, religion, familial status, and disability are some of the protected characteristics in Arizona.
Court Hearing & Judgment
A tenant can choose whether or not to attend a court hearing. If they fail to do so, the judicial officer will rule in your favor and a writ of restitution will be issued to you. The writ of restitution will give the sheriff authority to carry out the eviction.
It’s important for Arizona landlords to understand the legal eviction process as well as any other landlord-tenant laws. You should also familiarize yourself with security deposit laws, squatter’s rights, and rent increase laws.
Note that all these laws and regulations are subject to change therefore it is also a landlord’s responsibility to remain informed and up-to-date. If this feels too daunting, hire the services of a trusted property manager. The experts at Property Plus USA will gladly assist you in all your property management needs!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for legal advice from a legal expert. If you have a specific question, get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company for help.