As a property owner, you will ask the question “When can I evict a tenant?” at some point. Whether you are momentarily frustrated or you have a true problem tenant, it’s a good idea to learn when you’ll be able to legally remove someone from the property that you own. Because tenancy is based on a contract you’ve signed with the tenant, you cannot remove that person simply because you feel like doing so. Instead, you’ll need to know a bit more about the grounds for eviction in Arizona in order to legally start the process of tenant removal.
Legal grounds to evict a tenant
As a property owner, your goal during the eviction process should be to remove a tenant without violating your landlord-tenant agreement. As such, it’s important that you know the grounds for eviction in Arizona. While there are many reasons a person can be evicted, the grounds for eviction in Arizona fall into one of four categories. If you wish to remove a tenant, it’s vital that you are able to prove that he or she breached the tenancy agreement in a manner that falls under one of the following legal headings.
Non-payment of rent
When most people wonder “when can I evict a tenant?”, it’s because of an eviction due to unpaid rent. In Arizona, tenants must pay rent by the date specified on their lease. If the tenants fail to make the payment, they are given a five-day notice to pay. Once that is given, the eviction proceedings can begin.
Failure to maintain the premises that affects health and safety
When a tenant rents a property, there is an expectation that the tenant will maintain certain aspects of the property. This generally means getting rid of trash, keeping up with basic building rules, and avoiding the willful destruction of any property. If a tenant fails to maintain the property, he or she should be given a five-day notice to fix the problem. Once that five day period runs out, the eviction process can be started.
Material non-compliance of the lease
It’s important to remember that every lease is different. When a tenant signs a lease, he or she agrees to certain terms as set out by the property owner. If a tenant fails to comply with the lease in a major way – sneaking in pets, housing extra tenants who are not on the lease, lying about one’s identity, etc – he or she will be found in breach of the lease. The property owner then must give the tenant ten days to rectify the problem, after which the tenant may be legally evicted.
Material and irreparable breach
The final grounds for eviction concerns actions that simply cannot be repaired. This is most often applied to tenants who commit illegal acts on the property. If you find that your tenant has committed a crime on your property or if he or she has committed an act that simply cannot be rectified, you may be able to evict that tenant.
Tenant defenses to evictions
As you might imagine, Arizona won’t just take the word of a property owner when he or she chooses to evict a tenant. Instead, the tenant may be able to prove that the grounds for the eviction were not valid. Tenants only have a few defenses, but each of them is very powerful. Remember, when you ask “When can I evict a tenant?”, your tenant is probably asking “How can I stop from being evicted?”.
No justification to evict for non-payment of rent
This is a fairly simple defense. If the tenant has paid the rent in full, or if he or she does so before the judgment is entered, the tenant has a valid defense against being evicted. It should also be noted, though, that a tenant can also use these grounds if the property owner failed to make necessary repairs and the tenant deducted the amount of those repairs from his or her rent.
Evicted due to discrimination
Arizona property owners cannot evict tenants based on their race, religion, gender, family status, disability, or national origin. In this case, the tenant must show that being a part of one of those classes is the reason why they are being removed from the property.
If the landlord evicted the tenant using “self-help” methods
Arizona doesn’t look kindly on landlords who try to improperly evict tenants. If a landlord locks the tenants out of the home, the tenant has a defense against the eviction.
Tenant corrected lease violation within a reasonable time frame
By law, tenants are given a set amount of time (between five and ten days, depending on the violation) to fix any type of breach. This defense can be used if the tenant attempts to continue the eviction despite the fact that the tenant corrected the violation.
The landlord did not follow proper procedures during eviction
There are certain rules that have to be followed during an eviction. If the property owner fails to serve the eviction properly, to give tenants the statutory time to fix problems, or otherwise fails to follow the rules, the tenant may be able to temporarily halt the eviction process.
The landlord evicted in retaliation of a complaint by the tenant
Arizona believes in protecting tenants. If a tenant files a complaint against a property owner, the property owner may not retaliate by evicting the tenant. This is another case where the tenant must show that the landlord’s primary reason for eviction comes not from the stated grounds, but from a grudge he or she holds against the tenant.
When you ask “when can I evict a tenant?”, make sure that you’re able to answer the question correctly. In many cases, it may be wiser to let a professional handle the process so that you can be sure that it’s done correctly. Here at C21NW MoneyMaker, we can help you not only through making sure that all of your paperwork is properly filed, but also by reducing your risk of having to evict tenants through carefully screening any prospective renters. We can even evict your tenants for free if you sign a property management agreement. When you’re ready to begin the process, make sure to visit our website to get a free five-day eviction notice template.