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.