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 is evicted before their lease was completed, can a landlord sue for all the future rents until the end of the scheduled 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 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. 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.