First and foremost, evicting a tenant is inevitable in any landlord’s career. As a landlord in Tucson, you can evict a tenant for a number of reasons.
These include nonpayment of rent, rental agreement violation, or engaging in criminal activities within the property.
During a tenant eviction, you must follow the due process as laid out under Arizona law, just like breaking a lease.
Even if a tenant violates the rental agreement, you can't use “self-help” means to evict them. Examples of “self-help” eviction tactics include:
Ordering your tenant to leave
Harassing or threatening your tenant
Removing your tenant’s belongings from their rental unit
Changing the locks
Cutting off previously available utilities
Slandering false rumors about your tenant
Ignoring your tenant’s frequent maintenance requests
Interfering with the tenant’s use of their rental unit
All these actions are illegal and will cause a nightmare for landlords.
Now, Arizona eviction laws are landlord-friendly. In other words, Arizona has a legal environment that favors landlords. As such, the eviction process can be smoother.
The following is a basic overview of the Eviction Process in Tucson, Arizona.
Step#1: Grounds for the Eviction
The eviction process in Arizona is regulated by the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. As a landlord, it’s important to follow the entire process contained in this act when evicting a tenant.
The following are common reasons for evicting a tenant:
Failure to pay rent. Nonpayment of rent is a serious lease violation. A tenant has an obligation to make monthly rent payments. So, if your tenant fails to pay rent, you can begin formal eviction proceedings against them.
Failure to maintain the rental unit. You can evict your tenant for failing to keep their rented premises to acceptable standards, especially if their negligence is affecting the safety or health of other tenants living in the rental unit. These include violating acceptable building codes, willfully destroying parts of the property, and not disposing of garbage. You can also keep the security deposit, in this case.
Violating the lease or rental agreement. Common violations include having unauthorized pets or even lying on the rental application.
Step#2: Posting the Eviction Notice
The eviction notice must be relevant to the violation committed. For example, in the case of nonpayment of rent, you must serve the tenant with a 5-Day Notice to Pay.
The written notice says that if the tenant pays the rent owed, then the eviction will be voided. Otherwise, they have to leave the rental unit. If the tenant does neither, you may proceed with their eviction.
Besides the 5-Day Notice to Pay rent, here are other eviction notice types in the state of Arizona:
10-Day Notice to Comply. This written notice is specifically meant for violations to the lease or rental agreement. Typical lease violations under this category include having an unauthorized pet, exceeding the rental limit and causing excessive property damage.
10-Day Notice to Quit. You must use this when evicting a holdover tenant who is paying rent on a weekly basis. That is, a tenant who has refused to move out after their lease term has ended. It basically gives the tenant only 10 days to vacate the premises.
30-Day Notice to Quit. This is also meant for holdover tenants. However, in this case, it’s meant for tenants renting on a monthly basis. Again, the only option the tenant has is to leave.
5-Day Notice to Comply. You can also evict a tenant for violating a safety, building, health, or housing code. The 5-Day Notice to Comply gives the tenant five days to “cure” the violation.
And, of course, you can evict a tenant for committing an illegal activity. Examples of illegal activities include assault, prostitution, homicide, causing nuisance or threatening someone.
Step #3: Filing & Serving the Complaint
This is the next step in the eviction process. Filing for an eviction usually costs about $35 in a justice court and $218 in a superior court.
In the state of Arizona, the summons must be issued on the same day the complaint is filed. The service to the tenant must be done 2 days prior to the hearing via a certified process server.
Step #4: Hearing & Judgment
Once the summons is served, the eviction hearing must occur within a period of 6 days. The tenant can choose to file a written answer. This isn’t, however, required. If they do, the tenant can present any of the following defenses in court:
You used an illegal eviction procedure. As per ARS § 33-1367, it’s illegal for a landlord to use an unlawful eviction procedure. They can’t, for example, lock the tenant out of the rental unit or shut off utilities. If you use an unlawful eviction process, you risk being liable for monetary damages.
You failed to use the proper eviction procedure. As an Arizona residential landlord, you must follow all rules stipulated under the Arizona RLTA. For example, failing to serve the proper eviction notice on the tenant falls under this category.
You tried to evict the tenant for exercising one of their rights. As a landlord, you’re responsible for providing a habitable rental unit. If a landlord fails to do this, especially after repeated requests to fix the issue, a tenant can choose to exercise their right to “deduct and repair.” You can't use the fact that they haven't paid rent as a justification to evict them.
The eviction is based on discrimination. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate against their tenants based on protected characteristics. The characteristics include gender, religion, race, disability, familial status, and national origin.
Step #5: Judgment for Possession
There are two ways in which a judge can rule in your favor: one, if the tenant fails to answer the complaint. In such a case, the court will probably issue a default judgment. Or two, if the court finds merit in your submission.
In either case, the court will issue, upon your request, a writ of restitution. This is a legal document that gives the possession of the property back to you. The tenant will then have anywhere between 12 hours and 5 days to leave the property prior to being evicted.
Do you need professional help removing a tenant from your Tucson rental property? If so, Foothills Properties can help! Get in touch with us today.
*Disclaimer: The information herein is meant to be informational, not legal advice. It is in no way a substitute for competent legal counsel licensed in your area.