For some - their worst nightmare is coming true - the chance the owners took on the less-than-perfect tenant hasn't paid off. The tenants haven't paid for two months. The owners are feeling 'taken advantage of', and now, as their minds race, they're imagining their home being destroyed as well.
Property managers, as a rule, have seen it all. But if a manager is doing his job, your 'Pacific Heights' nightmare (remember that movie??) won't become reality. And because your property is in Arizona that scenario is even less likely because our court system and landlord/tenant laws work in concert to minimize your financial exposure.
The eviction process in Arizona is a simple, three-step process. It can be accomplished in about 30 days if no bureaucratic snags occur. Property managers have the proper state-sanctioned forms in their word processors and can file or mail them at the earliest opportunity available.
First, the '5-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit' can be mailed or hand-delivered to a delinquent tenant as early as the fifth calendar day of each month. Hand-delivery must be simultaneously accompanied by a certified-mailing of the same letter; the certified receipt will later be needed in the suit - if it comes to that. The filing/delivery date does not have to coincide with any application of late fees, though late fees may be listed as part of the delinquent charges. In addition, as long as any legitimate charge is listed on the '5-Day' it can be included in any suit that's later filed (this differs from many other states, and is a landlord perk in Arizona). Legal and process-service fees are common additions. The tenant will have to pay all the charges listed in the 5-Day to stay in the property. There is a 'drop-dead' payment deadline shown, usually at 5pm on the fifth business day following receipt. Payment is usually required in cash or certified funds.
Now at calendar-day 10 (the first 5 calendar day's grace period plus the 5-day notice period), should the tenant still be delinquent a lawsuit for possession can then be filed. Property managers should have at their disposal a landlord/tenant attorney and process server who can act quickly when contacted with the proper paperwork for the suit. The attorney will apply for a hearing date at the applicable Arizona justice court and give a standard notice to a process server who will go to the property and post it on the front door or give it to the tenant personally. The notice contains details of the delinquency and the date of the court hearing. Another advantage of this process in Arizona is that court dates - depending on the backlog of the docket - come up fairly quickly after service, usually within 5-7 business days.
Most tenants realize that, in Arizona, there is almost no feasible defense for nonpayment of rent. So, in most cases, regardless of whether the tenant even appears at the court hearing, a judgment for the 5-Day amount is entered against the tenant. Keep in mind that, at this point, if no delays have been encountered, the court hearing is still well within the month that the first delinquency actually occurred - a landlord advantage that goes a long way in keeping tenants aware that paying for housing is one of their most important financial priorities.
If, after the issuance of a judgment, the tenant still remains in the property, the attorney can contact the local sheriff's office to coordinate a lock-out date. A 'writ-available' date is then given to the property manager. If the writ is to proceed, arrangements are then made between the manager, a handyman who will change the locks to the property and the local sheriff who will oversee the procedure and ensure the safety of those at the lock-out. Another notice is posted on the property and, if the tenants still remain in the property as of the lock-out date, they can be removed from the property.
There are other issues at stake in a lock-out, such as what happens to the tenant's personal possessions and if the tenant is allowed to come and go from the property to actually move them, but our point here is that delinquent rent in Arizona can be dealt with swiftly if everyone does their job correctly.
Desert Investment Advisors offers eviction administration services for those owners who do not have a property manager. See the 'EVICTION SERVICES' tab on our homepage. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have about this issue. Please contact Kirk Piersma in our office for more information, 602-252-4656 x105.