Dec 12, 2014

Accepting Partial Rent Payments from Arizona Tenants

Should You Accept Partial Payment from a Tenant Who is Behind on Rent and you want to evict?

The answer is No! You should not accept a partial payment from a tenant who is behind on rent that you are planning on evicting.

A.R.S. 33-1371(B) states in part: "acceptance of rent, or any portion thereof,..by the landlord constitutes a waiver of the right to terminate the rental agreement for that breach."

The above statute makes it impossible for an Arizona landlord to accept a partial payment and then evict their tenant during that same month. If you accept even $1 from your tenant then you must wait until the next month to evict that person.

What Should You do if an Arizona Tenant Submits a Partial Rent Payment?

If your tenant gives you a partial payment you need to formally reject it. You need to return the payment along with a Notice of Formal Rejection of Partial Payment. Many tenants will submit partial payments hoping their landlord will accept it.  

Nov 19, 2014

Do I Have to Provide Air-Conditioning and Heat to Tenants?

Under Arizona Law is a Landlord Required to Provide Heating and Cooling to Tenants?

The simple answer is yes, you do need to provide heating and cooling for your tenants.

A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(4) of the Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act states in part:  Landlord is to "Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning..."

A.R.S. § 33-1324(A)(6) of the Arizona Landlord-Tenant Act states in part:  Landlord is to provide "reasonable heat and reasonable air-conditioning or cooling where such units are installed and offered, when required by seasonal weather conditions..."

If you are a landlord in Arizona and the A/C unit breaks down in the middle of the summer, you better fix the air-conditioner as fast as possible! You can create real problems for yourself if you don't. It gets so hot in the summer that people and pets can suffer serious injury if they're left in a house without any cooling. Especially if there are young children or the elderly.

A.R.S. § 33-1364 and A.R.S. § 33-1365 provides a list of financial damages an Arizona landlord is responsible for if they do not comply with the above statutes.

In addition to opening up yourself to legal problems it makes financial sense to maintain heating and cooling for your tenants. Turnover with tenants is very expensive for the landlord. Not only do you have to rehab the property but there is the cost of finding the new tenants and possible vacancies while you look for them.

If you tenants are comfortable and happy there is a greater likelihood that they will pay their rent on time and stay in the property for a longer period. If your tenants are uncomfortable, they will vacate at their earlier opportunity.

If you have any questions about your responsibilities as a landlord please call us at: 480-344-4035.

Nov 17, 2014

Arizona Eviction Timeline

How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in Arizona?

Generally, the eviction process begins when a tenant fails to pay rent.  The first step to evicting a tenant in Arizona for failure to pay rent is to provide them with a Five-day notice.

A landlord has two options when serving a Five-day notice. First, the Five-day notice may be hand delivered to the tenant if they will sign and accept a copy. Secondly, the Five-day notice may be sent to the tenant via certified mail.

The Five-day notice is deemed accepted via certified mail either the date the tenant signs for the notice or five days after it is sent. So if a tenant waits 3 days to sign for the certified letter we must wait 3-days plus the 5-days.

If the tenant fails to pay the sum due within the five day time period the next step is to file a forcible detainer action.

The eviction action must be held within 3 to 6 days from the time the Complaint is filed with the court. If the tenant does not have any valid legal defense for failing to pay rent (and there are very few) the landlord will be awarded a judgment for the money owed and possession.

From the date of the hearing, the tenant has 6 calendar days to vacate the property. If the tenant does not vacate the property within the 6 days allotted a Writ of Restitution may be requested.

So it takes approximately 21 days from start-to-finish to evict a tenant in Arizona.

If you have any questions about the eviction process please call us at: 480-344-4035.

Nov 13, 2014

Is Tenant Really Going to Vacate? Should I Cancel the Eviction Hearing?

Tenants will often promise landlords that they are going to leave by a certain date. These landlords will then ask me what I think about just dropping the eviction and letting the tenants leave on their own.

While it is true, a tenant may just leave the property without actually being evicted. However, it has been my experience that most tenants won't leave until they're forced out. So you may be taking a costly gamble if you stop the eviction process before obtaining a judgment.

Some benefits to going through with the eviction are:
  • Getting a judgment against your tenant is a very valuable tool. It increases the odds of you recovering past due rent, late fees, court costs, and attorney's fees. Plus the eviction judgment can be used to garnish wages, levy bank accounts, or place liens on property.
  • Additionally, an eviction judgment requires the tenant to vacate the property within 6 calendar days from the date of the hearing. If the tenant doesn't leave then you are able to file for a writ of restitution. 
  • Writ of Restitution:  If the tenants don't leave the property after the eviction hearing then we are able to file a Writ of Restitution and a Constable will physically remove them from the house.
  • ANY & ALL OCCUPANTS: An eviction judgment requires everyone, not just signatories of the lease agreement, to vacate the property. I've seen cases where the known tenants moved out and their friends continued living in the property. If you follow through with the eviction then you don't have to worry about this.
Benefits of not going through with the eviction are........

Nov 4, 2014

When Can a Tenant Legally Break a Lease Agreement?



Generally speaking tenants cannot unilaterally breach a lease agreement without recourse. However, there are a few special exceptions provided for our members of the Armed Forces and victims of domestic violence. Watch this short video to learn more.

Oct 24, 2014

Bedbug Educational Material

At each new move-in, all landlords should provide their new tenants with bedbug educational material. According to ARS 33-1319, this is one of their responsibilities as a landlord. If the property develops an infestation after the tenant moves in, it is almost always the tenant's responsibility to pay for it to be taken care of, but if the landlord doesn't do his part (i.e., provide tenants with educational material), he could be found liable for costs.




Oct 20, 2014

Appeal an Eviction in Arizona

Appealing an eviction judgment in Arizona is very expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome. So much so that I've never seen a tenant successfully appeal an eviction judgment. However, Arizona law provides tenants the opportunity to appeal a forcible detainer (eviction) judgment. There are two main stages to the appeal process. The first stage of the appeal process begins in the Justice Court; the second stage takes place in the Arizona Superior Court. All of the steps must be completed or the appeal will be dismissed.

STAGE ONE - THE TRIAL COURT- NOTICE OF APPEAL

In order to appeal an eviction judgment a notice of appeal MUST be filed within 5 calendar days from the date of the judgment.

Notice of Appeal Fee

A $75 appeal fee is paid at the time the Notice is filed. This fee includes the cost of a copy of the audio recorded proceedings, a certification of the appeal record, and the transmittal of the record on appeal to the Superior Court.

Cost Bond

On or before the deadline to appeal the cost bond must be paid. Currently the cost bond is set at $250. The purpose of this bond is to cover court costs incurred by the Appellee, (landlord) in defending the appeal.

Supersedeas Bond(s): One and Two

The purpose of the first supersedeas bond is to prevent enforcement of the judgment. Payment of this bond will prevent collection actions on the dollar amount awarded from the judgment, i.e. the ability to garnish wages.

Supersedeas Bond Part Two:

The second supersedeas bond will prevent any eviction proceeding resulting from an eviction action judgment.

It is not necessary for a tenant to post either of the two types of supersedeas bonds. But they must post one or the other to prevent enforcement of the eviction judgment.

How much are the bonds?

The amount of the bond is the total amount of the judgment ordered by the justice court, including court costs, attorney's fees, damages, etc. The purpose of this bond is to stay collection proceedings on the money judgment awarded. The stay becomes effective when the bond is posted.

The second supersedeas bond is used to stay the eviction proceedings enforced by a Writ of Restitution. The amount of the bond is the amount of rent due from the date of the judgment to the next periodic rental due date, plus court costs and attorney fees ordered in the judgment. To stay the eviction proceedings a supersedeas bond must be posted before the Writ of Restitution is enforced. The stay becomes active once the bond is paid, but cannot be retroactive if the Writ has already been executed.

Rent Payment:

In addition to paying all the necessary fees and bonds, the tenant must continue to pay their rent during the appeal process. All rent payments must be paid to the justice court on or before the rental due date, pending the appeal process.  If the rent is not timely received, the plaintiff may pursue a Writ of Restitution for execution of the judgment for possession.

THE WRITTEN APPEAL MEMORANDUM

The Appellant's memorandum is a written explanation of why the justice court ruling was legally wrong. This is where the tenant can provide a legal explanation for why the justice court's ruling was wrong. The memorandum should cite specific law and how it was inappropriately applied to the facts of the relevant case. The tenant's memorandum must be filed within 60 calendar days of the deadline to file the Notice of Appeal.

The landlord then has 30 days to file a response to the tenant's memorandum.

Once both sides have filed their respective memorandum we must wait for further instruction from the Superior Court.

STAGE TWO - THE SUPERIOR COURT

About 60 days after the tenant files the memorandum, he will receive notice from the Superior Court instructing him to pay the Superior Court filing fee.

After all of these steps have been completed, the parties will receive a written ruling from the Superior Court. The Superior Court can affirm the trial court, overrule the trial court, modify some of the trial court's decision, or, if the record is not clear order a new trial in the Superior Court.

If the final outcome of the case is that the original ruling stands, or if the tenant's appeal is dismissed for any reason, the court may use the bonds, deposit or payments made to satisfy the obligation under the original judgment.

Oct 8, 2014

Bedbugs: Who is Responsible?

                In the world of rental properties, “bedbugs” is a dirty word and a landlord’s worst nightmare. Aside from the physical difficulties bedbugs pose, there are legal ramifications to deal with if one doesn’t take the necessary precautions. Therefore, every landlord should know his/her responsibilities regarding bedbugs.

                A.R.S. § 33-1319  states in part, landlords should be providing each tenant with “bedbug educational material” prior to their tenant moving in. This should material should cover, without limitation, preventative measures, behaviors that increase the risk of bedbugs, and a description of the appearance of bedbugs. Also, a landlord should not move a tenant into a house if he knows that house has a current infestation.

                On the other hand, a tenant is responsible for notifying a landlord in writing as soon as he or she becomes aware of the presence of bedbugs. A tenant should not move materials already infested with bedbugs into his house or apartment.

                Let’s say there are no bedbugs when a tenant moves in, but three months later there is an infestation. Who is responsible to pay for all the fees associated with getting rid of them? Almost always the answer is: the tenant.

               Following the above guidelines may protect you as a landlord from a lawsuit in the unfortunate event that your property contracts a bedbug infestation. If you have more questions about how to protect yourself as a landlord, call (480)246-8033 to set up a free consultation with an attorney.

Oct 7, 2014

10-Day Notice to Tenant

Section 33-1368(A) of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act gives guidance to Arizona landlords whose tenants have materially breached their rental agreement.

Section 33-1368(A) states in part; "...if there is a material noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement...the landlord may deliver a written notice to the tenant specifying the acts and omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement will terminate upon a date not less than ten days after receipt of the notice if the breach is not remedied in ten days."

33-1368(A) goes on to say; "...if the breach is remediable by repair or the payment of damages or otherwise, and the tenant adequately remedies the breach before the date specified in the notice, the rental agreement will not terminate."

So, for example, if your lease agreement provides for two adults to live in your property but you find that 22 adults are living in the property then this is the notice you will want to send them.

The 10-day Notice would basically say, "hey, we know you've got 22 people living in the house and we're giving you 10 days to get rid of the extra 20 tenants."

If your tenants do get rid of their 20 roommates during the following ten days then you are not able to evict them because they rectified the situation within the allotted time.

However, if your tenants remove the 20 extra roommates and they return after the 10 day notice expires then we can sent them a second 10 day notice and there is no way they can rectify the situation at that point.

Sep 24, 2014

Utilities and the Residential Lease Agreement

Does your Arizona residential lease agreement require the landlord to pay the utilities? If you're a landlord and responsible for your tenant's utilities you need to listen up.

Section 33-1364(B) of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states: "A landlord shall provide all utilities and services specified in the lease agreement."

Section 33-1364(A) states in part: "If contrary to the rental agreement...the landlord deliberately or negligently fails to supply running water, gas or electrical service, or both if applicable, and reasonable amounts of hot water or heat, air-conditioning or cooling...the tenant may give reasonable notice to the landlord and do one of the following:

  • Obtain the utilities and then deduct their actual cost from the rent.
  • (If applicable) Pay the landlord's delinquent utility bill and deduct from rent the actual cost of the payment the tenant made to restore utility services.
  • Obtain reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord's noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord's noncompliance.
Section 33-1364(D) states in part: "If a landlord is in violation of...this section, the tenant may recover damages, costs and reasonable attorneys fees and obtain injunctive relief."



Additionally, you cannot deliberately cut off a tenants utilities because they are delinquent on rent and you're mad. The utilities cannot be shut off until you have properly evicted them.

What does all of this mean to you as an Arizona landlord? If the lease agreement says you're to pay the utilities then make sure it happens.

Sep 17, 2014

Registering Your Rental Property with the County Assessor

Did you know that if you are a landlord in Arizona that you must register the property with the county assessor? Yes, that's right. Per the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act you must register your rental property of face serious consequences.

Section 33-1902(A) of the Arizona Landlord Tenant Act states in part: "An owner of residential rental property shall maintain with the assessor in the county where the property is located information required by this section...The following information shall be maintained."
  1. The name, address and telephone number of the property owner.
  2. If the property is owned by a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, trust or real estate investment trust, the name, address and telephone number.
  3. the street address and parcel number of the property.
  4. The year the building was built.
Consequences of Not Registering Your Property with the County Assessor

Section 33-1902(C) states in part, that if the owner has not filed the information required by this section with the county assessor and the residential rental property is occupied by a tenant the tenant may choose to terminate the tenancy. First, the tenant must deliver a 10 day notice to the landlord requesting compliance with this section. If the owner does not comply with this section within 10 days after receipt of the notice, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and the landlord shall return all prepaid rent and security deposit to the tenant.

Additionally, a city can impose steep civil penalties against any residential landlord not in compliance with the section. Section 33-1902(G) states in part that "if a residential rental property owner fails to register with the county assessor as prescribed by this section, the city or town may impose a civil penalty in the amount of $150 PER DAY for each day of violation after the date of" notice.

With such serious penalties for not recording your Arizona rental property with the county assessor it's just not worth the risk of not complying with the law. If you would like our help in properly registering your Arizona rental property with the county assessor call us anytime at 480-246-8033.

Sep 8, 2014

Why You Should Thoroughly Screen Your Tenants: An Arizona Nightmare

We recently assisted some clients with an eviction, and when the tenant vacated the property, much to their horror, THIS is what they found.
Outside...

Inside...

the freezer

the bathtub

a closet



If you have "problem tenants," don't wait until it's too late - let us help you get them out as fast as legally possible.

May 1, 2014

Commercial Evictions in Arizona

Under Arizona commercial landlord tenant law there are two basic ways a landlord can recover possession of his commercial property.

LOCKOUT OF COMMERCIAL TENANT

First, a landlord can do a “lockout”. Through a lockout the landlord eviction suit they literally just lock the tenant out.  If a tenant is more than five days late with a rent payment, the landlord may enter the premises and take possession without any prior notice or demand for payment. However, before you just lockout your tenant it is important to review the lease and see if it contains terms which will limit your ability to recover possession without notice or a demand for payment.

In spite of the very broad repossession power given to commercial landlords by Arizona law, a landlord should follow any specific procedures found in the lease relating to notice and termination of the tenancy.

What can a commercial landlord do with all the tenant’s property left in the premises if they lock out the tenant?  Arizona law gives a commercial landlord a lien on all the tenant’s property in the premises when the landlord recovers possession.  The landlord can hold the property and demand payment of rent in exchange for release of the property.  If the tenant has not paid rent due within sixty days, the landlord may sell the seized property and apply the proceeds to the amount of rent owed by the tenant.

Prior to selling the property, the landlord must provide the tenant with a ten-day notice of intent to sell the property if rent is not paid.  If the tenant still fails to pay past due rent and late fees, the landlord must sell the property at a public auction.  There are a number of commercial auction houses available in the Phoenix metropolitan area that can be used for the auction.

There are a several potential traps associated with seizing a tenant’s property and holding it for auction.  A landlord may not hold for auction any property exempt by law.  For example, personal financial records of the tenant, or personal education materials, or a personal library on the premises.  A much more significant trap is the seizure of property on the premises which belongs to some third-party.  It is quite common for commercial tenants to have equipment that is rented from another business.  For example, a restaurant tenant might rent the freezers on the premises form a restaurant supply company.  Often rented equipment can be easily identified by a sticker or label on the equipment.  But, a landlord should make a concentrated effort to determine whether or not the tenant owns the property seized at the business before that property is auctioned at a public sale.

Note that if a lease has been assigned or there is a sub-tenant of the original tenant occupying the property a landlord can still enter and seize the property of the sub-tenant if the rent is in arrears.  The landlord has a lien in the sub-tenant’s property on the premises.  If nobody pays past due rent and late fees, the landlord can proceed to auction as described above.  If the sub-tenant has been faithfully paying rent to the original tenant, who has not been forwarding that rent on to the landlord it makes no difference.  The sub-tenant would have a very good breach of contract claim against the original tenant, but the landlord can proceed to auction unless somebody pays the past due rent.

COMMERCIAL EVICTION LAWSUIT

As an alternative to a tenant lock-out, an Arizona commercial landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.  One major reason to file an eviction lawsuit is that it is the quickest and easiest method to obtain a money judgment against the tenant. For this reason, it is always advisable to obtain personal guaranties from the principles of any closely held corporation or limited liability company tenant.  You will then have the ability to seek recovery of your damages from the guarantors.  To make sure you can collect on a personal guaranty if necessary, it is imperative to have both a husband and wife sign the personal guaranty.   This is necessary to make the guaranty an obligation of the marital community.  For example, if only the husband signs the guaranty at the end of the personal guaranty lawsuit you only get a judgment against the husband.  You can only satisfy that judgment from the sole and separate assets of the husband.

Since the bulk of most couples assets are held as community property, attempting to collect from a husband’s or wife’s sole and separate property may be a futile effort.  This highlights an important issues related to a personal guaranty.  If you are going to require a personal guaranty for a lease, get a financial statement from the prospective personal guarantors; not just a credit report.  Get a financial statement that shows you what the prospective personal guarantor owns.

Another reason a commercial landlord might consider an eviction lawsuit to recover possession is to limit any possible liability they might be exposed to by conducting a lock-out of their tenant.  A good commercial lease will have terms which limit a landlord’s liability for any consequential damages the tenant suffers as a result of a lock-out.  If you don’t have a lease which limits your liability for consequential damages, you should consider going to court and getting an eviction judgment, rather than simply locking your tenant out. 

Feb 24, 2014

Not sure if your tenant is planning on staying in your rental?


You have a new tenant interested in your property, and the current tenant is nearing the end of their lease.  You need to plan well, so you dont experience a lapse in your income.  What is the best course of action?
Our TIP:  Contact your existing tenant about 60 days before the end of the lease and find out their intentions. 
Having a signed agreement to vacate, will help you as a property manager.  If the tenant does not vacate, you have further proof of their stated intentions if you end up in a dispute.  If the landlord does not like the existing tenant and wants to end the tenancy at the lease term, the landlord may have to take legal steps to re-gain possession.  It is good  to know well in advance, so you can plan your strategy.  
On the other hand, if the landlord likes the existing tenant, it may be beneficial to negotiate a new full-term lease or renewal.  Then you are not left to guess when the tenant may decide to give notice and move out.
Another option to consider is having your legal adviser review your standard lease agreementIf necessary, you can add in any available options for hold-overs.  There may be many provisions you forgot to include on the original lease.  For example: A provision that allows a landlord to increase the rent once the tenancy goes month-to-month? Or an option to have the lease renewed for a new term, for instance one year, rather than go month-to-month?
If you pursue information in advance, and keep on top of your leases, it will benefit your income.

Feb 18, 2014

You might be making BIG mistakes as a landlord!




As a landlord, you have quite a bit to manage.  There are several very important things that a landlord cannot overlook, through out a tenancy.  Here are a few common mistakes one might make at a property manager.

1: Delaying time!

As a property manager or landlord, you might often choose to let late payments extend passed a due date. Landlord's who delay sending default notices and commencing evictions action often risk enduring longer "rent-free" periods than if the landlord immediately responded to the first delinquency. A landlord is generally better able to obtain overdue lease payments if the landlord promptly contacts the delinquent tenant to work out payment details. In some instances, the landlord may obtain full payment. In other circumstances, the landlord may make concessions by providing a lease modification (i.e., lower rent payments; forbear a portion of future rent payments; etc.) so the tenant will agree to remain in the premises. In yet other situations, the landlord may need to pursue eviction proceedings. It is important to you bottom line, to attempt to minimize your risk.
2: Holding off on the eviction process, while negotiating with your tenant.
It is necessary to pursue eviction, purely for business purposes. As a landlord, you must increase your leverage, as you start the negotiation process. It provided a landlord the ability to dangle a carrot in front of his tenant, and create motivation for change! If the tenant cooperates in the negotiations and pays at least some of the past due rent, the tenant will obtain a lease modification. If the tenant is does not cooperate, the tenant will be evicted. Assuming the tenant cooperates and a settlement is reached, the eviction may be cancelled, but a landlord cannot obtain a refund for court filing costs. Two other benefits of starting an eviction while negotiating with a tenant is that (1) the proceeding give you a firm deadline for an agreement, and (2) if negotiations break down, the tenant will have to vacate the property. 
3: Ignoring your tenants imminent bankruptcy.
As soon as a tenant files for bankruptcy, all legal proceedings against the tenant must be immediately halted. Pending lawsuits and eviction proceedings are also included! As a landlord, you must begin eviction proceedings against any tenant that is expected to declare bankruptcy. Once in bankruptcy, a tenant may be able to remain in the property rent-free for up to 60 days. It is usually far less costly to pursue an eviction proceeding than to be enveloped into a tenant's bankruptcy action as the landlord and/or creditor. IMPORTANT! Eviction proceedings can take several weeks to complete.

Feb 14, 2014

Potential tenants, and a few red flags.


There are certain things that should alarm you, as you interview prospective tenants. These items are not necessarily deal breakers, but they are items that should concern you and cause you to investigate further.  Here are a few things that you should watch for:

Potential tenant is concerned about a credit check.
A tenant who is hesitant to consent to a credit check is doing so for a reason.  It might be a poor credit score, massive debt, a judgement against them, bankruptcy filing or even a history of evictions. You cannot run a credit check with out the tenants consent, IN WRITING!  You should advise the tenant that failure to consent to the credit check will result in their removal from the applicant pool.

They have been evicted before!
If you find that your prospective tenant has a history of evictions, either by running a credit check or by speaking with a former landlord, you should run the other way. Evictions can be filed for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason is for nonpayment of rent. You want to avoid renting to tenants with previous evictions because these tenants were knowingly violating the terms of their lease agreement, but refused to leave until they were legally forced out.

The tenant has a Criminal History.
States don't always allow you to discriminate against your potential tenant if they have been convicted of a non-violent crime.  Make sure you know your rights, and the rights of your tenant in this area.
As an example: You could make a strong case to refuse to rent to someone who has been convicted of dealing drugs or is a registered sex offender.   It  could put your other tenants in jeopardy. You may have a harder time refusing to rent to someone who went to jail for unpaid parking tickets.

The application is full of holes, or lies.
It is possible to make a mistake when filling out an application.  And you may be lenient with those things.  But a land lord must be wary of any potential tenant that blatantly misrepresents themselves on their application.

Verify their previous W2's.  Call their employer.  Confirm their work experience, and pay rate.  Check with previous land lords, and contacts listed on their application.  Confirm that the identification provided to you in authentic.

Make sure you inform your client that you will be doing all these things, and give yourself time to do so!  If you find this process too tedious, you might consider taking THIS advice.

Feb 13, 2014

Why Hire a Property Manager in Arizona?

As an owner of an investment property, you are probably all about saving money.  But lessons learned in business teach us that there is a time for pinching pennies, and a time when we should not

A professional property manager is worth their weight in gold, for a number of reasons:
  • Property managers can be objective, when it comes to screening possible tenants.  It is rare that your manager will fall for a hard luck situation.   Property managers assess the income, debt, and other issues that your tenant has.  They will make an educated assumption, NOT BASED on emotions!  They will help you find tenants that have a greater likelihood of paying rent!
  •       Your property manager can coach you with regard to price, and has sometimes a greater ability to find tenants for you.  He likely manages multiple properties, and has a system of advertising already set up.
  •       Professional property managers play by the rules.  Because it is their vocation, they are often available to act when needed.  And know the current standards and laws required of them.
  •       Property managers have special accounts set up for holding escrow, and accounting for interest which under certain circumstances must be paid to the tenant.
  •       A good property manager has a very comprehensive lease agreement.  And will keep you from worrying wether or not you have included all necessary details on your lease.  That offers you far more protection as a landlord than using pre-printed forms online.
  •       Thorough inspections, both before move in and upon move out, are essential to a smooth transition.  Having an experienced, objective 3rd party to conduct these inspections and insure that the appropriate follow up paperwork is completed is a must.
  •       And finally, property managers have a wide variety of loyal service men and women, with whom they have good relationships.  They know what contractor, or carpet guy to call, when you are in desperate need of repairs.  They have invested time in finding quality craftsman, who will do the work they are paid for.  And if you have ever dealt with a poor quality contractor, you will appreciate leaving the hassle on your property managers shoulders.
Your property manager will probably charge you 10 to 15% of your monthly rental income.  If you value your free time, night times, and bottom line, a property manager might be worth your investment.

Feb 11, 2014

Why Was my Eviction Case Set for Trial?

1. What happens at the initial eviction hearing? 

On any given day eviction hearings are bunched into a 60 minute time frame.  It is not uncommon for 80 eviction hearings to be scheduled in a 60 minute block!  During these hearings the courtroom is packed with attorneys, their clients, tenants, and crying babies.  Thus, Judges are under necessity to move through each case as quickly as possible.  Additionally, the hearings move swiftly because often the defendants (tenants) don't appear at their hearing.

In this small allotment of time there is not time to take sworn testimony, allow for opening and closing statements, or review evidence.  So just because the case was set for trial it doesn't mean that they did anything right or that we did anything wrong.

2. Why would a judge set an eviction for trial?

If a Defendant (tenant) in fact appears at the hearing and denies the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Judge may set the matter for trial.
  • For example: If the original Complaint was filed for failure to pay rent the tenant may appear and claim that they are actually current on their rent. As mentioned above, the Judge does not have time during the block to hear the argument, and he or she will set it for trial.
  • Another example is in the case that the Complaint was filed for breach of the lease agreement. For instance, if the signed lease agreement states that only two people may occupy the property. If the property owner finds out that there are 22 people living in the house he or she may file for an eviction based on the fact that the Tenants had more than the allowed number of occupants in the home; which is a breach of the original signed agreement. However, the Defendant (tenant) may appear and claim that the people in the house are just visiting. In this case the matter would be set for trial.


Feb 5, 2014

Tenants Possible Defenses During Eviction



Every once in a while, a tenant fails to pay rent or fails to comply with the provisions in the rental agreement.  It is then up to the landlord to begin the Arizona eviction process. The Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, lay out important rules for a landlord to follow.

Landlords cannot begin an eviction without following specific steps.  Otherwise you might you may expose yourself to damages and give your tenant more advantages. For example, a landlord cannot deny access to the tenant, shut off utilities, threaten the tenant, remove the tenant’s personal belongings or take other action to forcibly remove the tenant without first giving notice and then obtaining a court judgment and order.

There are several defenses a tenant can use during an eviction trial.  These are a few examples:

  • Tenant paid partial rent
  • Discriminatory eviction
  • Retaliatory eviction
  • Complete payment of rents owed
  • Landlord is in breach of his obligations

A landlord can often find themselves in an emotionally charged situation, when working with tenants. If you have any questions about these circumstances, it is a good idea to seek the advice of an attorney who focuses his practice in residential evictions.  If you feel like you have a special case or are concerned about the state of your rental property, contact us!  

Jan 31, 2014

I Don't Have a Signed Lease Agreement, What Can I Do?

Occasionally, I'll be asked by a landlord what they should do in situations where they don't have a signed lease agreement and the tenant isn't paying. The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act address this exact issue.

Section 33-1314(B) of the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act states: "In the absence of a rental agreement, the tenant shall pay as rent the fair rental value for the use and occupancy of the dwelling unit."

This rule extends to all people and not just formal tenants. So, for instance, if you invite a friend into your house to rent a room for $300 a month. Even without a written lease agreement you can evict that friend for non-payment of rent.

The "fair rental value" of an Arizona rental property can be disputed by reasonable people it is best to make sure that you have a written lease agreement in place before ever letting a tenant move into the property.

Jan 28, 2014

Suing For Unpaid Rent AFTER the Eviction

If a tenant is evicted before their lease was completed, can a landlord sue for all the future months until the end of the scheduled lease? This is one of those topics where the real answer is "yes" and "no", so make sure you clearly understand your situation before deciding how these rules apply to you.

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 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? The answer is "yes" and the answer is "no". I will address the "No" answer first.

No, a Landlord may not sue for future rents after an eviction.

A landlord may not sue a tenant for future unpaid rents through the eviction lawsuit. Obviously 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. He cannot simply let the property sit empty for 18 months and then sue the tenant because the property sat empty for 18 months. 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. Give us a call at 480-344-4035 if we can help you with nonpaying tenants.

Jan 24, 2014

A.R.S. 33-1368(E): What to do with an Evicted Tenant's Possessions?


Often tenants will leave personal property on the premises after they have been evicted. As a landlord you cannot not simply keep or throw away the former tenant's personal property. 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.


Per A.R.S. section 33-1368(E) a landlord, must hold the evicted tenant's possessions for 21 days.  The 21 day period starts the day that the writ of restitution was issued. As the landlord, you may change the locks on the residence and hold the personal property at the unoccupied residence.  You may also move it to another secure location. Use considerable care when moving and storing the former tenant's belongings. But you do not have to allow the tenant access to the property any more, after they have been evicted. Landlords can charge former tenants for the actual cost of moving and storing their belongings during the 21 day period.

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. In very rare instances the amount received by the landlord from the sale of the personal property exceeds the amount owed by the tenant to the landlord. In those cases, the extra funds must be returned to the evicted tenant.

Questions regarding the eviction of your Arizona tenant?  Contact Clint Dunaway at 480-344-4035.

Jan 22, 2014

5-Day Notices for Non-Payment of Rent: AKA Pay or Quit Notices

In Arizona, the process of evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent begins with mailing a 5-day notice. Landlords should send the 5-day notice via certified mail so they can prove it was at least mailed. Even if the tenant never signs for the 5-day notice it is still legally considered having been received 5 days after it was mailed.

The 5-day notice demands that the tenant pay ALL past due rent, late fees, and other outstanding fees in full within 5 days. If, the tenant attempts to tender the full amount owed within the 5 day period then it must be accepted. A landlord can't reject payment from a tenant and then turn-around and evict them for non-payment of rent. It's important to note that if a landlord accepts even one dollar from a tenant then they cannot be evicted in that same calendar. month. If a tenant does tender a partial payment then read this blog post on how to formally reject a partial rent payment.

If rent is not tendered during the 5 day period then a Complaint is filed with the appropriate justice court. Within 6 days of filing the Complaint an eviction hearing will be held. This is something that we attend for all of our clients.

If you have questions about how to properly serve your tenant with a 5-day notice feel free to give us a call at 480-344-4035.

Jan 21, 2014

Northwest Regional Court Center

The Northwest Regional Court Center in Surprise, Arizona is actually comprised of several different court from both the Justice and Superior Court systems.


The Maricopa County Northwest Regional Court Center in Surprise, Arizona is located at 14264 West Tierra Buena Lane, Surprise, Arizona 85374. 

The Arrowhead justice court, Hassayampa justice court, Manistee justice court, and North Valley justice court, are all located in this Northwest Regional Court Center.

Additionally, the Superior Court has an office in the Northwest Regional Court Center.