In Arizona, a landlord can file a lawsuit to evict a tenant after informing the tenant in writing that rent is due and giving the tenant five days to pay the rent.
This article will outline the procedures a landlord must follow when evicting a tenant for not paying rent, according to the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Rent is generally due on the first day of every month, regardless of weekends or holidays, unless the landlord and tenant agree otherwise in the lease or rental agreement. This means that if the first of the month is a Saturday and the tenant does not pay rent until the following Monday, the tenant's rent can be considered late.
A landlord can give a tenant an eviction notice the very day after the tenant fails to pay rent on time. The notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has five days to pay the rent or eviction proceedings will begin. Because the notice gives the tenant five days to pay the rent, this form is sometimes called a "five-day notice." Upon receiving the notice, the tenant will have five days to pay the rent, including weekends and holidays. If the tenant does not pay the rent within the five-day time period, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court (see Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 33-1368(B)).
The eviction notice for nonpayment of rent must be written and should include the following information:
A sample eviction notice for Arizona can be found at the Maricopa County Justice Court website.
Under state law in Arizona (Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 33-1313(B)), a landlord has two options for giving the eviction notice to the tenant: (1) The landlord, or an agent of the landlord, can personally give the notice to the tenant, or (2) The landlord can mail a copy of the notice to the tenant through registered or certified mail; it is always best practice to request a return receipt if using this option.
The landlord must give the notice to the tenant in the proper way or the five-day time period will not begin. If the landlord fails to serve the notice properly, the landlord will have to give the notice to the tenant again, following correct procedures. The five-day time period will not begin until the tenant receives the notice in the proper manner.
Tenant responses to an eviction notice include the following:
Pay the rent during the five-day time period. In this case, the landlord must not proceed with the eviction. If the tenant pays rent late again in the future, the landlord must repeat the entire eviction process.
Pay the rent, and any late fees and court fees, at any time before the court actually orders the eviction. Under these circumstances, the landlord must not proceed with actually evicting the tenant.
Move out of the rental unit without paying rent. If the tenant moves out of the rental unit and does not pay the rent, the landlord can use the tenant's security deposit, if possible, to pay for the unpaid rent. If the security deposit does not cover the whole amount due, the landlord can sue the tenant for the amount remaining.
Do nothing. If the tenant does not pay any rent and does not move out of the apartment, then the landlord can file a lawsuit with the court to begin the eviction process. This lawsuit is also called a special detainer action.
See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 33-1368(B).
If the tenant does not pay rent or move out of the rental unit within five days of receiving the eviction notice, the landlord can then file a complaint and summons with the courthouse in the county where the rental unit is located. The landlord must successfully win the eviction lawsuit before the tenant can actually be evicted.
A sample Arizona complaint and summons for a special detainer action can be found at the Maricopa County Justice Court website.
It is illegal in Arizona for a landlord to use any "self-help" procedures to try to force a tenant out of a rental unit, such as changing the locks or shutting off the utilities to the rental unit (see Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 33-1367). The landlord's only option is to go through the court system, and the landlord must carefully follow all the procedures when filing the eviction lawsuit.
AZLawHelp.org, an Arizona legal aid service, publishes useful information on evictions for both landlords and tenants. The Maricopa County Justice Court also has useful information about evictions in Arizona on its website.
The Nolo website also has many articles on landlord-tenant relations in Arizona, including illegal eviction procedures in Arizona and tenant defenses to evictions in Arizona. The Arizona charts in the State Landlord-Tenant Laws section of the Nolo website also has useful information. For more eviction articles, see the Evicting a Tenant or Ending a Lease section of the Nolo site.