But You Must Pay the Rent!
What must an Arizona landlord do in order to evict a tenant? The answer is: “it depends.” What is the cause for the eviction? Late payment? Falsification of information on rental application? Illegal discharge of a weapon? Once the cause for the termination is determined, the landlord’s actions must follow the applicable provisions of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Arizona Revised Statutes, “A.R.S.” §§33-1301 through 33-1381, inclusive.) In addition, the Landlord should review the termination provisions in the written lease between the landlord and the tenant to see if there are any additional requirements for termination. (Always have a written lease agreement and make sure it complies and is compatible with the Act!)
Notice. In each case the landlord must first give the tenant notice of the breach and/or eviction action. Notice must be in writing and can be either hand-delivered to the tenant (considered delivered immediately) or mailed by registered or certified mail to the tenant to his last known address (considered delivered on the earlier of the date actually received by the tenant or five days from the date of mailing). It is strongly recommended to have the notice hand-delivered in order to shorten the process and have fewer days that the property is not producing income. The content of the Notice that must be given will depend on the cause for the eviction.
Material and Irreparable Health, Safety and Welfare Violations. If the termination is due to gang activity, the illegal discharge of a weapon or any other breach that occurs on the premises, which breach is irreparable and jeopardizes the “health, safety and welfare of the landlord, the landlord’s agent or another tenant or involving imminent or actual serious property damage” (A.R.S. §33-1368.A.2) the landlord may immediately terminate the lease by hand- delivering written notice to the tenant. The landlord can then directly file the eviction summons and complaint (also known as a forcible entry and detainer or special detainer action) as described below.
Nonpayment of Rent. On the day after the rent is due and unpaid, the Landlord should deliver to the tenant (in either manner set forth above) a “Five-Day Notice to Pay or Quit.” The Five-Day Notice should include the amount due, late charges, and any applicable fees. The Notice must also inform the tenant that, if the amount due is not paid within five calendar days, the lease will terminate and the landlord will file an eviction action to recover the premises and the amounts due, including attorney’s fees.
Health, Safety and Welfare Violations. If there is a curable breach of the lease materially affecting health and safety, the landlord should deliver a Five-Day Notice to the tenant specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach. The notice also must state that the lease will terminate if the breach is not remedied within five calendars days after receipt of the notice.
Material Noncompliance with the Lease. If the landlord discovers that the tenant has materially breached the lease, such as falsifying information on the rental application or failure to maintain the premises, the landlord must deliver to the tenant a “Ten-Day Notice” stating the specific acts constituting the violation and that the lease will terminate ten calendars days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not cured within the ten day period. If the nature of the breach is such that it cannot be cured, the Ten Day Notice should state that the lease will terminate ten days after receipt of the notice.
Eviction Action. If the rent has not been paid or the breach cured within the time period set forth in the Notice, the next step is to file the eviction summons and complaint and attend the eviction hearing. For more information regarding eviction hearings and related actions please see the upcoming Winter Edition of our Newsletter.