Jul 26, 2017

Southwest Regional Court Center in Avondale, Arizona

This morning I had the opportunity to go to the new Southwest Regional Court Center in Avondale, Arizona. This new Regional Court Center houses four justice courts; Agua Fria, Country Meadows, Maryvale, and White Tank.






Previously these four justice courts were scattered across the west valley in extremely old and outdated facilities. Agua Fria was in a dilapidated strip mall. Maryvale was in a larger strip mall.

Mar 23, 2017

Eviction Trials in Arizona

What is the Difference between an Eviction Hearing and Eviction Trial?
Every eviction case in Arizona requires an Eviction hearing but occasionally the matter will be set for trial. At an Eviction hearing the landlord or landlord's attorney appears and shows a judge the necessary paperwork to receive a judgment. For good cause showing the judge may set the matter for trial.

Why Would a Judge Set it for a Trial?
Under certain circumstances the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires that an eviction case be set for a trial. The case will be set for trial if; the tenant appears and makes a legal defense to the attorney's claims. Depending on how strict a judge interprets this statute, the hearing may be stopped the moment a tenant presents a legal defense and set for trial. Other judges will allow the landlord's attorney and the tenant an opportunity to present their best arguments for a moment before dismissing the case or setting it for trial. However, most judges will not listen to any testimony or view evidence at the initial hearing and just set it for trial.

What Can I Expect at an Eviction Trial in Arizona?
Eviction trials can last from 30 minutes or so to several hours. During eviction trials both parties are given the opportunity to make brief introductory statements. Landlords and tenants may introduce evidence and question witnesses. Typical evidence is; pictures, text messages, lease agreements, and emails. Eviction trials can last for several hours.

Mar 6, 2017

Eviction from Arizona Mobile Home Park

***This Specific Post Only Applies to Arizona Mobile Home Parks***

The landlord-tenant relationship with Arizona Mobile Home Parks is very different from the law that pertains to renting a traditional home or apartment. One major different between mobile home parks and traditional rental properties is the types of notices that are used to terminate a tenant's lease.

For instance, when a renter is behind on rent in a house then the landlord delivers a 5-day notice to pay or quit. However, A.R.S. § 33-1476 of the Arizona Mobile Home Parks Act requires the landlord to provide a 7-day notice to pay or quit. 

A second major distinction between the two Acts is requiring justification for non-renewal or termination of lease. In a traditional lease agreement a landlord can provide a tenant with a 30-day notice "without cause". Meaning the landlord does not have to give justification to the tenant as to why they are terminating the lease. 

However, per A.R.S. § 33-1476(A),
"The landlord shall specify the reason or reasons for the termination or non-renewal of any tenancy in the mobile home park. The reason or reasons relief on for the termination or non-renewal shall be stated in writing with specific facts..." 

Additionally, under A.R.S. § 33-1476(B) the landlord cannot terminate the tenancy without good cause. "Good cause" means;
  1. Non-compliance with any provision of the rental agreement.
  2. Non-payment of rent.
  3. Change in use of land.
  4. Clear and convincing evidence that a tenant has repeatedly violated any provision of this chapter and established a pattern of non-compliance with such provisions. 
Furthermore, A.R.S. § 33-1476(C) says there is a second part to section (B) and that until the landlord has complied with subsection D. E or H they cannot continue with the eviction. Wow!

A.R.S. § 33-1476(D)(1) States that before there can be a material non-compliance by the tenant, the landlord shall deliver a written notice to the tenant specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach of the rental agreement. If the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than thirty days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in fourteen days. If the tenant remedies the situation within the time specified in the notice, the landlord shall issue a notice to the tenant releasing the tenant from the termination of rental agreement notice.
A.R.S. § 33-1476(D)(2) States: If there is a material breach by the tenant consisting of a noncompliance affecting health and safety, the landlord must deliver a notice terminating their lease in not less than 20 days. But, if the tenant remedies the situation within 10 days then the landlord must deliver another notice to the tenant informing them that their lease is not being terminated.
A.R.S. § 33-1476(D)(3) States: If there is a material and irreparable breach that occurs from shooting, murder, gang activity, prostitution, selling of drugs, threaten or intimidating, assault then the landlord may deliver a notice immediately terminating their tenancy.
A.R.S. § 33-1476(D)(4) States: If a tenant engages in repetitive poor behavior of two or more incidents of the same type within a 12 month period, the landlord may deliver a notice to the tenant stating that on the next incident of the same type final notice will be given and the rental agreement will be terminated 30 days after the date of the notice. 
A.R.S. § 33-1476(D)(5) States: If a tenant has been involved in three or more documented incidents, the landlord may deliver notice to the tenant advising that on documentation of the next incident final notice will be given and the lease will be terminated within 30 days.

So if you are having problems with an Arizona tenant in your mobile home park then do not hesitate to contact us at: 480-344-4035 so you can discuss your situation with an experienced eviction attorney.

***This Specific Post Only Applies to Arizona Mobile Home Parks***

Mar 1, 2017

Normal Wear and Tear to Rental Property

What is Considered Normal Wear and Tear?

During a rental period a certain amount of wear and tear is to be expected. It can be assumed that paint on the interior walls will become dingy and that traffic wear will be shown on the carpet.

Normal Wear & Tear and the Security Deposit

The Arizona Landlord and Tenant Act states that normal wear and tear cannot be deducted from a tenant's refundable security deposit. Courts have held that landlords can expect to repaint interior walls and clean carpets.

Holes in the walls, large stains on the carpet, and broken appliances are considered to be in excess of normal wear and therefore a landlord can deduct the cost to repair these items from the Security Deposit.

Lastly, click HERE to learn more about Security Deposits and how they should be refunded to tenants.

Feb 16, 2017

Eviction Cases and Claims of Property Ownership in Superior Court

Arizona state law and Arizona case law are clear that eviction cases (formally known as Forcible Entry and/or Forcible detainers) are designed to only address the issue of possession and not any issues addressing the ownership of the property involved. The limited scope of a forcible entry and detainer action has been strictly defined by Arizona statute. A.R.S. § 12-1177(A) states in relevant part:
On the trial of an action of Forcible Entry or Forcible Detainer, the only issue shall be the right of actual possession and the merits of title shall not be inquired into.
Evidence offered to the Superior Court to show anything other than who is entitled to possess the property will be excluded from an eviction hearing. So, if a defendant wants to make a claim for ownership of the rental property then they must file a quiet title action and not raise the issue during an eviction hearing.

REQUISITE PROOF OF OWNERSHIP

The Superior Court's inquiry into property ownership is limited to the extent that Plaintiff holds title to the property in dispute. If the Plaintiff/Landlord's name appears on the trustees's deed then the Court should not inquire into ownership any further.

The issuance of the Trustee's Deed to Plaintiff is conclusive evidence that all statutory requirements for the Trustee's Sale were satisfied and that Plaintiff has the right to possession of the Property.

A.R.S. § 33-811(B) further provides:
...the Trustee's deed shall raise the presumption of compliance with the requirements of this chapter relating to the exercise of the power of sale and the sale of the trust property, including recording, mailing, publishing, and posting of the notice of sale and the conduct of the sale.
The Courts have held that litigation as to the validity of title "would convert a forcible detainer action into a quiet title action and defeat its purpose as a summary remedy." Curtis v. Morris, 186 Ariz. 534, 535, 925 P.2d 259, 260 (1996).

For example, in Merrifield v. Merrifield, 95 Ariz. 152, 154, 388 P.2d 153, 155 (1963), the plaintiff held title to property pursuant to quitclaim deed which was valid on its face. The lower court nonetheless inquired into the merits of that title and refused to find the defendant guilty of forcible entry and detainer. The Arizona Supreme Court reversed the lower court's ruling because plaintiff was entitled to possession as the title holder and pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-1177, the trial court was prohibited from considering the merits of the plaintiff's title. Accordingly, any evidence offered by Defendants to raise extrinsic issues or disprove Plaintiff's title must be excluded.

In another case demonstrating the Superior Courts inability to inquire into ownership in a forcible detainer (see Olds Bros. Lumber Co. v. Rushing, 64 Ariz. 199, 167 P.2d 394 (1946)), the Arizona Supreme Court stated: "[T]he statutes of this state make that very plain and indicate quite clearly that the right to actual possession is the only issue to be determined in such an action." Id. at 204, 397. The Court also discussed the legislative intent in limiting the scope of a forcible entry and detainer action stating:
The object of a forcible entry and detainer action is to afford a summary, speedy and adequate remedy for obtaining possession of premises withheld by tenants, and for this reason this objective would be entirely frustrated if the defendant were permitted to deny his landlord's title, or to interpose customary and usual defenses permissible in the ordinary action at law. And for the same reason, the merits of the title may not be inquired into in such an action, for if the merits of the title and other defenses above enumerated were permitted and the court heard testimony concerning them, then other and secondary issues would be presented to the court and the action would not afford a summary, speedy and adequate remedy for obtaining possession of the premises.
Id. at 204-05, 397. Because the trustee's deed is conclusive evidence of Plaintiff's title under A.R.S. § 33-811(B), and because the court is prohibited from inquiring into the merits of that title under A.R.S. § 12-1177(A), judgment must be rendered in favor of Plaintiff regardless of any defense of ownership the Defendants may raise.

OWNERSHIP DISPUTES AND EVICTIONS IN THE JUSTICE COURT

The ownership of property and their interaction with evictions can become very complex. The above article discusses issues of ownership disputes and evictions in the Superior Court, however, the rules that apply to ownership disputes and evictions in the Justice Court (where most evictions take place) are completely different. Follow this link to read about a blog post I wrote that discusses ownership disputes and evictions in the Justice Court.