Eviction can happen when you have renters. You can perform complete and thorough screening (of course within federal fair housing guidelines). You can also prepare and complete excellent documents, including lease agreements, move in forms, and pet addenda. Things can change quickly and you can find yourself with a tenant that breaches the lease, either by not paying rent or by breaking other rules. When this happens, it's important to know that there is a process in place to help bring your tenants into compliance with lease terms.
Let's walk through a basic outline of the process of eviction in Arizona. An eviction is a type of lawsuit called a forcible detainer.
Keep in mind that I am not an attorney (and certainly not your attorney!), but have a solid understanding of the eviction process gained from being involved in hundreds of forcible detainer actions.
Here are the basic steps for eviction for non-payment of rent. Depending on court calendars and how weekends fall, this process can take 21-30 days.
1. Serve a 5 day notice to pay or quit: This gives the tenant notice that they have 5 days to pay the rent or 'quit,' which means to remove themselves and their possessions from the house and give you back possession, meaning give you their keys.
2. On day 6 (if they have not 'quit' in 5 days) you can request a forcible detainer hearing from the court. This request document is filed with the court and says, "we gave the tenants 5 days, and they did not pay OR quit." Once this document is filed you will be given a court date (usually 4-6 days later) and a have a chance to appear before a Justice of the Peace. The tenant is also invited.
3. At a forcible detainer hearing, the Justice of the Peace hears testimony, reviews documents (lease agreement, 5 day notice, etc.) If he/she finds they have enough information to rule (this happens most of the time) then you will be given a judgement for the monetary damages (rent, late fees, legal fees, court fees, etc.) and the tenant will be ordered to give you back possession of the house within 5 days. Yes, 5 more days.
4. If the tenant is still in the home in 5 days, on day 6 you can file a document with the court called a Writ of Restitution. The writ of restitution basically says, "tenant did not leave, please lock them out." At this point, the judge will order the constable to physically remove the tenant from the property. The constable will knock on the door, ask the tenants to leave, and watch you change the locks. If the tenant refuses to leave, the constable can call local police to assist. The constable will typically be available for the lock out within 48 hours of the filing.
This process can be confusing and frustrating, but there is help available! Give us a call for a free consultation and even a pep talk if you need help with eviction in Arizona. Stop Stressing! Call Beehive!