Step by Step Eviction Process in Arizona
There are a set of procedures that need to be followed in Arizona to legally evict someone from your property. Once they are out, you want to take steps to ensure that they do not reenter it.
Locksmiths provide an important service during an eviction to re-secure your property by rekeying the locks so the old keys can no longer be used to gain access.
The information below is a summary guide on the Arizona eviction process, but it is not a substitute for legal advice. This information was obtained by visiting AzCourts.Gov, where you can find more extensive information on the subject.
Note: Due to Covid there has been an eviction moratorium in Arizona. At this writing some evictions in Arizona are starting to take place again. But there are plenty of disparities in the process, and each County has their own process they must follow in regards to evictions while Covid-19 continues to impact our communities.
To evict someone in Arizona you will need to:
- Notify tenant in writing that the rental agreement will terminate.
- File an Eviction Complaint Notice and Summons with the court and serve it.
- For residential evictions in Arizona, also serve an Eviction Information Sheet.
- If you win the eviction judgement, and the tenant does not move out, usually within 5 days, get a Writ of Restitution from the court.
- Have the Writ of Restitution served by a constable or sheriff.
- Hire a locksmith to rekey the property when the constable or sheriff is present.
Once the Writ of Restitution is served, your tenant no longer has any rights to be in the property, and the property can be rekeyed by a local locksmith to protect you from a tenant re-entering.
All legitimate locksmiths in Arizona will require that the constable or sheriff be present before starting the rekey of the property.
You cannot legally rekey the property before the writ is served. So, this is the first time in the Arizona eviction process that you can legally have the property rekeyed.
The constable or sheriff will provide you a time when they will serve the writ. You provide this time to the locksmith so that they can meet them at the property location.The cost of rekeying a property during an eviction.
- Service call – the cost to get the locksmith and equipment to the property location.
- Meet fee – the cost to hold the locksmith so they can meet your constable or sheriff at a given time. The locksmith will not be able to service other calls just prior to meeting your constable on location. So, they will not be earning revenue while they wait. They are, in essence, on hold for you. This charge helps the locksmith minimize that lost revenue.
- Gain Access Fee – If the property is locked the locksmith will need to gain access to the property usually by picking the door locks.
- The cost to perform the rekey service.
Checkout our article How Much Does a Locksmith Cost to get general pricing information for Arizona.
1. Notify tenant in writing that the rental agreement will terminate
To give you an idea of the flow of the process of evicting a tenant, we’ll look at just one example–that of non-payment of rent. The processes, timing, and necessary forms for different eviction reasons vary, however, so this is just a ‘template’ to the process.
In the case that rent is not paid, the landlord or property manager (you) must give written notice to the resident or tenant.
The notice will state that the rental agreement will terminate if rent is not paid in 5 days (this timing is regulated by the Arizona Revised Statutes section 33, which govern the processes related to tenancy in Arizona.)
You cannot file for an eviction action until one day AFTER the final day of the above notice.
2. File an Eviction Complaint Notice and Summons
File, then serve, an Eviction Complaint Notice and Summons to appear in court.
In the case of non-payment of rent, with this notice you must also provide a record of any rent payments received in the six months prior, and this notice (in general) must be served by a constable, sheriff, or process server in person or, alternately, posted prominently on the property and then also mailed to the tenant by certified mail.
3. Serve an Eviction Information Sheet
For residential evictions in Arizona, you must also serve an Eviction Information Sheet. This does not seem to be required for business or commercial property evictions.
4. Go to Court
The tenant, in return, has the opportunity to respond and present any defenses they have, either in writing or in person to the court.
They are given the opportunity to remedy the situation by paying the past due rents, attorney fees, and court costs before a judgment is entered. There are a few defenses a tenant may be able to show that could prevent an eviction from going through.
The tenant has a right to a trial if the court finds that the tenant MAY have a defense or valid counterclaim. Evidence and testimony is given, and either a judge or (if requested by the tenant at the first appearance before a judge) a jury.
And then a verdict is made.
A default judgment may be entered against the tenant if they do not appear before the judge when the case is called. If they do appear, but lose the case, the judge will usually award the landlord possession of the property, plus rent, fees, and/or other damages if there is a basis to reward them.
At that point, the tenant can no longer stay at that property unless an agreement with the landlord can be worked out. If this is done, it should be in writing.
A judgment, though, does not allow the landlord to take possession. He or she cannot, at this time, do anything to the property, including (by state law) forcibly removing the tenant.
5. Serve a Writ of Restitution
When the tenant does not voluntarily move out, a writ of restitution needs to be filed with the court 5 days after the judgment, but can be as few as one day in certain situations where the tenant is acting unlawfully.
Writs of restitution are served by a constable or sheriff (state law mandates this). Until this happens, a landlord or property manager cannot legally change the locks to the property. Once it has been executed, though, they are free to do so.
6. Have the Property Rekeyed by a Locksmith
And here’s where locksmiths come in. Locksmiths are called out to perform a rekey service to a landlord who is serving the writ of restitution, at the time of the serving.
Usually, the customer will pay extra for this locksmith service call, because an exact meet time is required for the constable or sheriff to execute the writ, and we have to make sure we keep that technician open to be there when needed and not busy with other business.
The law prohibits the ex-tenant from remaining or returning to the property without the express permission of the owner (or be charged with criminal trespassing), but you will want the extra piece of mind by having the property rekeyed by a locksmith.
Personal property left behind also needs to be disposed of properly, and there are rules that govern this to give the tenant an opportunity to recover some of their belongings
How Long Does an Eviction Take in Arizona?
While the whole eviction process can be as little as 2 weeks, it’s much more typical that the process will take over a month before the tenant actually is evicted, and it can be quite costly when court and attorney fees are considered. This is why so many lessors of property do such extensive background checks, to hopefully not find themselves with a tenant that causes them the grief of having to evict.
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