In Arizona, a landlord can evict a tenant for a number of reasons, including not paying rent, violating the lease or rental unit, or committing a crime. The landlord must follow specific rules and procedures when evicting the tenant, and the first step in the eviction (also called a special detainer action) is terminating the lease or rental agreement. Before terminating the lease or rental agreement, the landlord typically must give the tenant notice. The type of notice required will depend on the reason for the eviction.
This article will explain the rules and procedures a landlord or property manager must take when evicting a tenant in Arizona.
For a landlord to evict a tenant early (that is, before the lease or rental agreement has ended), the landlord must have legal cause. The most common legal causes of eviction are the tenant's failure to pay rent, or violation of the lease or rental agreement. But the landlord can also evict the tenant who commits a crime on the premises of the rental unit. The first step in the eviction process is to give the tenant notice.
See ARS 33-1368.
If a landlord does not have cause to terminate a tenancy early, then the landlord cannot expect a tenant to move until the end of the term of the lease or rental agreement. In some cases, the landlord will still need to provide the tenant with notice that the tenancy is ending.
For a landlord to end a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord must give a tenant a 30-day notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenancy will be ending in 30 days and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by then. If the tenant does not move in 30 days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see ARS § 33-1375). Arizona Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information.
If a tenant has a fixed-term lease, such as for six months or one year, then the landlord must wait until the lease term has expired before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord does not need to provide the tenant with notice unless the lease specifically requires it. Otherwise, the landlord can expect the tenant to move by the end of the tenancy.
Even though a landlord may have a valid legal cause to evict a tenant, the tenant may still choose to fight the eviction. The tenant may have a valid defense against the eviction, such as the landlord retaliating against the tenant or the landlord failing to maintain the premises. If the tenant fights the eviction, it could increase the amount of time the tenant can stay in the rental unit and increase the cost of the eviction lawsuit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Arizonahas more information.
The only way a tenant can be removed from a rental unit is if the landlord wins an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even then, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a law enforcement officer. The landlord must never try to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit. In fact, Arizona law has made this illegal. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Arizona has more information on this topic.
After an eviction occurs, the landlord may find that the tenant has left personal property in the rental unit. The landlord cannot just dispose of the property. The landlord must notify the tenant in writing that the tenant has 14 days to claim the property. If the tenant does not claim the property in 14 days, the landlord can donate the property to charity or sell the property (the landlord can charge the tenant reasonable fees for storage). If the landlord sells the property, the landlord can use the proceeds to cover outstanding rent or other costs (as specified in the rental agreement) that the tenant owes the landlord. After the sale, the landlord must give any remaining money to the tenant (see ARS § 33-1368). Handling a Tenant’s Property in Arizona: Eviction Lockouts has more information on this topic.
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Arizona law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.