What are the procedural steps for evicting a tenant in the state of Arizona? This is a short and seemingly simple question; the answer is very long and involves many steps. First, you must know what you can and cannot do. Second, you must decide which notice is appropriate to your circumstances and serve it upon the tenant. Third, you must select the proper Maricopa County court. Finally, you must file and prosecute the special Special Detainer action. If you have never been through the entire process of evicting a tenant, you should consult with your attorney. For those who have been through the process a few times and who feel confident they can proceed without an attorney, the following information should see you through each and every step.
What Can’t I do to Evict a Tenant In Arizona
To keep you out of trouble, we begin with what you cannot do to evict a tenant. You cannot:
- Refuse to supply heat, air-conditioning, cooling, water, hot water or essential services.
- Lock the tenant out of the rental unit or otherwise exclude him/her from the property.
- Turn off the power or disconnect other utility services until the day following execution of the writ of restitution. Disconnection of power and/or utility services may only be performed by a person authorized by the utility to perform that function.
- Hold or seize the tenant’s personal property to pay for rent or other amounts due.
- Raise rent, decrease available services, evict a tenant or threaten to evict a tenant in retaliation of complaints made by the tenant to the landlord or to governmental agencies (i.e., reporting a housing code violation to the appropriate authority).
Under the act, once you reach the point where you are thinking about evicting a tenant, you have only two options: you may continue to work with the tenant to try to reach some mutually acceptable solution or you must file an action for possession of the leased premises. An action for possession under the act is called a “Special Detainer” action. A special detainer action is the legal process whereby the landlord obtains a Writ of Restitution, which grants the landlord the right to possession of the leased premises and also decrees that the tenant no longer has any possessory interest in the leased premises. Ultimately, the Writ is served and executed by the Sheriff or Constable, forcibly removing the tenant from the leased premises.
What notice must I prepare?
Okay, there has been some type of non-compliance with the rental agreement by the tenant. You have tried to work with the tenant but to no avail. You resign yourself to the fact that you must evict this tenant via judicial process. The first step is to serve the tenant with a written notice. The notice informs the tenant of the reason for the eviction and, if appropriate, gives the tenant an opportunity to cure the problem, thereby avoiding eviction.
“What type of notice must I provide?” The answer depends on the nature of the tenant’s non-compliance. Under the ACT, a landlord may Institute a special detainer action against a tenant when there has been a non-compliance with the rental agreement by the tenant. Non-compliance falls into three categories: (a) material noncompliance; (b) noncompliance materially affecting health and safety; and (c) material and irreparable breach. Non-payment of rent is obviously material non-compliance with the rental agreement, but the ACT provides a special procedure for this type of non-compliance.
Which category your situation falls into is very important because it determines whether or not you must give your tenant an opportunity to cure the noncompliance and, if so, how much time you must give your tenant to cure the noncompliance before you terminate the rental agreement.