While owning a rental property in Arizona, you will eventually encounter a difficult or unruly tenant. Learning how to evict a tenant in Arizona, is important if you’re a property owner or landlord. Addressing conflict is part of the role of being a rental property manager, and sometimes it comes to the point of having to evict a tenant before the rental agreement has ended.
But determining when and how to evict a tenant isn’t always straightforward, especially if you are new to the process. That’s why it’s important that you understand Arizona eviction laws so you evict a tenant the right way and for the right reasons.
Think you might need to evict a tenant from your rental property? Read on to learn more about the tenant eviction process in Arizona.
What are the Eviction Laws in Arizona?
You and your tenant both have rights. These are outlined in the Arizona Landlord Tenant Act – a list of rules and regulations that protect landlords and tenants when it comes to their protections under a rental agreement.
Under this act, Arizona eviction laws dictate that an eviction (otherwise known as a “forcible detainer”) may be reasonable if a tenant isn’t meeting up to their obligations, such as paying rent or abiding by the rules of your lease, HOA, or where appropriate the apartment complex bi-laws..
A landlord can only evict a tenant under certain conditions, which are outlined in the Arizona Landlord Tenant Act. These conditions include:
- A tenant hasn’t been paying rent
- A tenant moves an additional occupant into the home, violating the lease
- A tenant has breached the lease by having unauthorized pets or not complying with property rules
- A tenant has breached the lease through health and safety concerns, such as by damaging property or not disposing of garbage
- A tenant has endangered other tenants by participating in gang activities, assaulting someone, using illegal drugs on the premises, or firing a gun on the premises
- A tenant refuses to leave the property after a lease period has ended
Your reasons for wanting to evict a tenant may be personal, but you must confirm that you have legal grounds to evict them. It’s essential that you understand Arizona’s rules regarding eviction so you can minimize conflict and avoid further legal issues.
How Do I Evict a Tenant in Arizona?
The only way that an Arizona property owner can evict a tenant is by following Arizona’s official eviction process. A tenant can only be removed from the property if you win an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. You cannot force a tenant to leave your property, as this is illegal.
It’s essential that you follow official eviction procedures to avoid any legal issues that may result from breaking landlord-tenant laws. If you do end up winning your eviction lawsuit, the tenant must leave the premises or will otherwise be removed from the rental unit by a law enforcement officer.
Below, we have outlined the steps you should take to evict a tenant legally – and as peacefully as possible.
Step 1: Determine the Reason for Eviction
For a landlord to evict a tenant in the states of Arizona, the landlord must have legal cause. These legal causes typically include the tenant violating the lease/rental agreement, failing to pay rent, or committing a crime on the premises.
If you do not have legal cause to evict a tenant, you cannot force them to move out before the end of the lease or rental agreement. If you do have legal cause, then you will need to issue an eviction notice to the tenant.
Step 2: Discuss Options with Your Tenant
Believe it or not, a lot of stress and time can be saved by simply having a conversation with the tenant prior to issuing an eviction notice. It may be possible that the tenant isn’t yet aware of the problem and simply needs a reminder to adhere to the terms outlined in the rental agreement.
The eviction process can expend a lot of time and money – something you and your tenant both likely want to avoid. Have a conversation with them to see if you can settle the issue out of court. But, make it known that if the issue isn’t resolved, you’ll likely need to file for an eviction.
Step 3: Issue a Notice
If you’re unable to resolve the issue out of court, then you’ll need to bt. This notice must include:
- The reason for the notice (i.e. an explanation of how the tenant has breached the rental agreement)
- The amount of time the tenant has to correct the issue
- The consequence(s) of not complying
Note that you can’t file an eviction request until after the notice period has ended. The notice period may vary depending on the type of breach and what area of Arizona you are in. You can find this information by reaching out to your county’s court clerk’s office or by visiting the county court’s official website.
Tip: Be careful in accepting a partial rent payment from your tenant. If you do accept a partial payment, you can only issue an eviction if the tenant agrees (in writing) to the terms outlined in the partial payment agreement between you and your tenant.
Step 4: File the Eviction Complaint
If the notice period has ended and the tenant hasn’t resolved the issue, then you must file an eviction complaint. You will need:
- An Eviction Action summons form
- An Eviction Action complaint form
- A Residential Eviction Information Sheet
- A copy of the original notice you delivered to the tenant
You can get eviction forms from your county court clerk’s office or on their website.
Fill Out the Forms
Once you have the proper forms, fill them out as thoroughly and accurately as possible. Neglecting to do so may result in a dismissal and you’ll have to refile the paperwork at a later date.
Note Monetary Damages
If a tenant owes overdue rent and/or you are wanting them to pay court and attorney fees, then be sure to include this on your complaint form. Note any monetary damages you want to collect. If you don’t you will be waiving your right to discuss these issues during the hearing.
File Paperwork with the Court
Make sure you have completed all the required paperwork before filing for eviction with the county clerk’s office. Once you have filed your paperwork, the clerk will issue you a court date within 3 to 6 business days.
Have the Papers Served to the Tenant
Fortunately, you don’t have to serve the tenant with eviction papers yourself. A constable or process server will serve the summons and complaints documents for you.
Note: If the issue is resolved before the hearing date, then you must file a dismissal of the case. You can find dismissal forms at the clerk’s office. Then, give a copy of this dismissal to the tenant. The court will then close the case.
Step 5: Attend the Eviction Hearing
You will receive a hearing date from the county clerk’s office. Before your court date, you can prepare for your hearing by identifying any witnesses who might be able to prove your case. This might be someone who witnessed the tenant participating in illegal behavior or destroying property.
Compile all the evidence needed to support your case – including the lease, proof of damages (receipts), proof of notices, etc. Try to be as thorough as possible, as missing a crucial piece of information may result in you losing your case.
Arrive on time to your hearing with all of your evidence in order. After the hearing, the judge will decide whether an eviction should be granted.
Step 6: File a Writ of Restitution
If the judge determines that an eviction should be granted, then you will need to file a writ of restitution. The judge will issue you a date for when you may file the writ. This form will be provided by the clerk’s office and is what is needed to actually remove the tenant from your property.
If the tenant doesn’t leave the premises after they receive the writ, then it is the constable’s job to remove the tenant from the property.
Note: The landlord shall hold the tenant’s personal property for a period of fourteen calendar days after the landlord retakes possession of the dwelling unit. After this period, the landlord is free to dispose of or sell the tenant’s personal belongings.
Step 7: Collect Any Money Judgment (if applicable)
If you included monetary damages in your original case and the judge determines that you should receive money at the hearing, then the court will offer you forms for how to collect this money. After you collect the money judgment, you must file a “Satisfaction of Judgment”. These forms should be available from the county court clerk or on their website.
Need to Evict? – Things to Consider
The Arizona tenant-landlord eviction process can seem a bit complicated, for tenants and landlords alike. But knowing your rights is absolutely essential if you want to protect your assets and peace of mind.
That’s why many property owners opt to have property management companies handle tenant conflicts on their behalf, as they are typically well-versed in Arizona landlord-tenant laws. Taking this route can be a smart option if you want to avoid the stress of navigating the eviction process on your own.
If you run a self-managed rental property, however, here are some other things to consider when trying to decide when and how to evict:
- A tenant’s rent is considered late if they do not pay by the due date. This could be grounds for starting the eviction process, especially if it is a regular occurrence.
- After an eviction notice is issued, the tenant has a predetermined (by the court) amount of time to vacate the premises. If they do not move out, they will be removed by a law enforcement officer.
- The only way to “kick out” a troublesome tenant is by following Arizona’s official eviction process. This is the best way to avoid breaking landlord-tenant laws.
Have more questions about the eviction process in Arizona?