Jan 11, 2018

Evicted Tenant's Possessions


Often tenants will leave personal property on the premises after they have been evicted. As a landlord you cannot simply keep or throw away the former tenant's belongings. The Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act requires to you maintain their possessions for 21 days. 

Per A.R.S. § 33-1368(E) a landlord, must hold the evicted tenant's possessions for a minimum of 21 days from the day the Writ of Restitution was issued. As the landlord, you may;
  • Keep the tenant's belongings that the rental property for the 21 days,
  • Move the tenant's belongings to an off-site storage facility,
  • Require the tenant to reimburse you for the actual cost of moving and storing their belongings during the 21 day period,
  • Prohibit the tenants from ever returning to the property without your explicit permission.
As a landlord you may NOT;
  • Require the tenant pay for the judgment you obtained against them prior to releasing the belongings to them. Meaning you cannot require a tenant pay you for all back rent, late fees, attorneys' fees, and court costs prior to returning their belongings. (Again, you can only demand payment for the actual cost of storing and moving the belongings.)
  • Dispose of the tenant's property prior to the expiration of the 21 days.  
If you do choose to remove the tenant's belongings from the rental property use considerable care, you will be responsible for any damage to their belongings. It is a good idea to photograph, or video the premises, so that you have an inventory of what was left behind. Make sure the date can be verified through the images and video. This will also give you the opportunity to catalog any damage to the rental unit itself. Take the inventory prior to moving any of the personal property from the rental unit.

After the 21 day period, if there has been no contact from the evicted party, and they have not claimed, or made and agreement to claim their property, a landlord may sell the items or dispose of the items that were left behind.

Questions regarding the eviction of your Arizona tenant?  Contact Arizona Real Estate Attorney Clint Dunaway at 480-344-4035 or cdunaway@davismiles.com 

Dec 6, 2017

Motion for Summary Judgment

A Motion for Summary Judgment is a document filed with the Arizona court where the party is asking that the judge decide an issue—or the whole case—without the need for a trial. In order for a summary judgment to be granted by the court, the party filing the motion for summary judgment must demonstrate that there are “no genuine issues of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” This means that the undisputed facts presented in a particular case entitle one side to win because of the existing law relating to that issue.

When considering a Motion for Summary Judgment, the Arizona judges must view all “the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Rowland v. Kellogg Brown and Root Inc. Per Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure 56(c), Only if the Arizona court makes a finding that no genuine issue of material fact exists can the moving party be granted a judgment as a matter of law. If issues of material fact exist then the Motion for Summary Judgment should be dismissed in its entirety.

Arizona courts are cautioned not to use summary judgment proceedings as a substitute for trials, the motion should be granted if the facts produced in support of the claim or defense have so little probative value, given the quantum of evidence required, that reasonable people could not agree with the conclusion advanced by the proponent of the claim or defense.

The burden of persuasion on the party seeking summary judgment is heavy and if there is any genuine issue as to a material factual issue is present, the motion should be denied.

So a summary judgment is provides an award to one party without a full trial. Additionally, the award can be for the full case or just a specific issue in dispute.

Statement of Facts and Affidavit
There are two documents filed in conjunction with the summary judgment itself; a statement of facts and affidavit of facts. The statement of facts lays out the facts as moving party sees them. In addition, to just stating the “facts”, they must also cite to specific documents that supports their statements.

Additionally, the moving party must file an affidavit where they swear under oath that each of the statements that make are true.

Why Did They File a Motion for Summary Judgment?
Just because the opposing party filed a Motion for Summary Judgment it doesn’t mean that you did something wrong or they have an extraordinarily strong case where the judge will enter judgment in their favor without even going to trial.

It is quite common for Motions for Summary Judgment to be filed in Arizona cases. In part they are filed because a judge can rule on just one aspect of the case. This will allow them to see if they can “chip at the edges” of our lawsuit and see if they can get anything dismissed at this time.

What Should you Do?
You must file a response to the Motion for Summary Judgment and explain to the Arizona judge why the case should move forward to trial. As part of the response a statement of facts and affidavit must also be filed. Similar to the opposing party's statement of facts you must cite a source for every statement you make to the court. Doing this can be incredibly tedious and time consuming. The response and accompanying documents must be filed within 30 days of receiving their Motion!

What If Motion for Summary Judgment is Granted?
If the motion is granted, the judgment on the issue or case is deemed to be a final judgment from which a party may appeal. An Arizona court of appeal can reverse the summary judgment and reinstate the claim in the Superior Court. However, this is rarely done and most summary judgments are upheld on appeal.

If you need the help of an Arizona real estate attorney call Clint Dunaway at 480-344-4035 or email me at cdunaway@davismiles.com. 

Sep 27, 2017

Adding Rent and Damages to a Judgment

Rule 13(c)(2)(A) of the Eviction Action Rules of Procedures establishes that: “…if the plaintiff is entitled to rent incurred after the judgment has been entered, then the plaintiff may seek that amount in a separate civil action.”

            Rule 13(c)(2)(E) of the Eviction Action Rules of Procedures indicates that damages can be award if they have been “…properly pled in the complaint and when such damages resulted from the breach giving rise to the eviction.” Plaintiff may also seek those damages in a separate action.

            Rent or damages sought post-eviction must be sought in a separate civil suit, rather than an eviction action. While an eviction judgment can be obtained in just a couple of weeks, a civil judgment takes much longer to get – usually a couple of months. However, if the damage to your property is extensive, and you believe you have a good chance of recovering the money from your tenant (see section on debt collection), then it can be worth the time and money it takes to pursue.

            An Arizona landlord may sue a former tenant for damage to the property while they were living there. Cost of repairs that are above the normal wear and tear of tenants is recoverable. The security deposit is held in reserve to help off-set the cost of rehabilitating the property for new renters. However, after subtracting the deposit from the cost to rehab the property a landlord may decide to sue the former tenants for the full extent of damages sustained. 

This This highlights the importance of during a thorough walk-through when the tenant moves in and out of the property. Take very detailed notes, videos, and pictures of the property and any damage. Give the tenants a copy of these records. Keep very detailed records of the cost to make the repairs. We must be able to prove to the court exactly how much it cost to repair the significant damage caused by a former tenant.

Sep 17, 2017

Suing For Unpaid Rent AFTER the Eviction

If a tenant that is under a current lease agreement who is evicted or abandons the property; can that landlord sue for all future rents thru the end of the lease? The answer is; "yes", "no" and "maybe".

Let me answer this question by using an example. Landlord and Tenant sign a 24 month lease agreement. Tenant promises to pay $1,000 each month for rent. However, 6 months into the lease term the tenant does not pay rent and so the landlord evicts him. Tenant still has 18 months left on his 2 year lease. Can landlord sue tenant for the remaining 18 months? Maybe, I will answer the question in greater detail below.

"No", a Landlord may not sue for future rents.

Hypothetically, if the landlord finds a new tenant who begins paying rent the very next month then landlord may not sue the initial previous tenants for the future rent he should have paid. A landlord may not sue a tenant for future unpaid rents at an eviction hearing. Because the landlord won't know how long the property will sit empty and therefore the courts award would be based off of speculation. But a landlord can sue for all past rents owed during an eviction lawsuit.

A landlord has a duty to "mitigate" his losses. A landlord mitigates his losses after an eviction by doing everything possible to re-rent the property. Landlord must take the same actions they would if re-renting the property under normal circumstances. The Arizona landlord cannot simply let the property sit empty for 18 months and then sue the tenant because the property sat empty. He must take all reasonable actions to re-rent the property as soon as possible. Again, a landlord may not sue a tenant for future rent through an eviction lawsuit. However, there is another option a landlord may take to recoup losses from a breaching tenant.

Yes, a Landlord MAY sue a former tenant for unpaid rents.

Yes, a landlord may sue a former tenant for unpaid rents after they were evicted from the Property. However, the landlord must first market and re-rent the Property before suing the former tenant. The law doesn't allow for double-dipping, meaning you cannot sue a former tenant for terminating a lease 16 months earlier while collecting rent each month from a new tenant.

However, you can sue a previous tenant for all the months the Property sat vacant until it was re-leased to a new person. Using the example from above, let's assume the landlord re-rented the Property one month after evicting the previous tenant. In this situation the Property only sat empty for one month and so the previous tenant is only liable to one months rent to the Landlord. Regardless of how many more months or years were left on a previous tenants lease, a landlord can only sue for the months the Property actually sat empty.

For this, and other reasons it rarely makes sense to sue a tenant for the months a Property sat vacant before you re-rented it. Call experienced real estate attorney Clint Dunaway at 480-344-4035 or send me an email at cdunaway@davismiles.com. 

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.