Arizona Eviction Law

Posted by Christopher Berkompas in Arizona

Note: I am not a lawyer, and this does not constitute legal advice.

What qualifies as a valid legal cause for a landlord to evict a tenant?

Landlords in Arizona do not always have to have a reason to evict a tenant.  A tenancy may be terminated for no reason with notice equal to the rental period.  Thus, if a tenant in Phoenix were renting month-to-month, the lease could be terminated with 30 days notice. 

However, if the landlord wishes to end the tenancy within the lease period, he must use the eviction process through the court system, which is the only legal method to evict a tenant.  The main acceptable causes for an eviction action are (1) failure to pay rent, (2) illegal activity, or (3) substantially violation of the terms of the lease.

What are the steps involved in performing an eviction?

First, the landlord must give the tenant five (5) days (10 days for breach of lease) notice that they are behind in their rent, and that if it is not repaid within that time, he will begin the eviction process.  This notice must be delivered by hand or sent by certified mail.

If the tenant does not fix the problem, the landlord must then file an "Unlawful detainer" lawsuit with the local court.  The court will summon the tenant to a hearing, at which both sides will be heard.  It is very important to the tenant that he attend, because if he does not, the court will automatically decide in favor of his landlord.  

If the court decides in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be ordered to leave the premises.  If necessary, the sheriff will be employed to forcibly remove him.  On the other hand, if the tenant wins the case, he will be permitted to remain on the property for the remainder of the lease term.


How are landlords supposed to deal with tenant belongings left behind?

The landlord may lock them into the premises, and the tenant will have ten (10) days in which to schedule a pickup during normal business hours.  If the tenant fails to do so within the time limit, the landlord may do whatever he wishes with the property.

Can the landlord shut off utilities or lock a tenant out prior to the completion of the eviction process?

No.  If he does, the tenant may be entitled to two months of free rent.

Can a tenant be evicted for having a roommate?

Yes, if the lease specifically forbade having roommates.  This would probably be considered a substantial breach of the lease by the court, especially if the roommate is destructive to the property.

Can landlords legally deduct legal fees and court costs from the security deposit?

No.  These costs may only be recovered by the landlord if the court chooses to award them.  The landlord must return the security deposit in its entirety within fourteen (14) business days of the termination, unless he makes deductions for repairs.  In that event, he must also return an itemized list of the deductions to the tenant.

Can the tenant fix the problem and remain on the premises, even after the eviction has started?

Yes.  If the tenant repays all due rent, including legal fees, or fixes the breach of the lease before the judge has entered judgment, the eviction cannot proceed.  Instead, the tenant will be able to stay under the terms of the lease as before.  


Summary of Landlord/Tenant Law by AZ Supreme Court (Targeted toward landlords)

Summary of Landlord/Tenant Law by University of Arizona (lots of links to the original statutes)

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