Legal FAQs for Renters in
Table of Contents
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Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
What can I do?
I've been sued in court for eviction
What can I do?
Do I have housing protections because of COVID-19?
- Are there any eviction protections for Arizona renters during COVID-19?
Yes, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered a statewide delay on the enforcement of eviction actions, if you provide your landlord with a written notice of your COVID-19 hardship or health problems. It went into effect on March 24, 2020 and may end on January 31, 2021.
This date may be extended, check here for updates.
Arizona renters may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through January 31, 2021. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
- What do the eviction protections mean for Arizona renters?
The protections means that through January 31, 2021 in Arizona:
- Your landlord could still give you a notice to pay your rent or quit.
- Your landlord could still file an eviction claim in court against you.
- Hearings on eviction are still happening in some parts of the state, and the court may still hear an eviction case against you.
- The court may issue a new order, judgment, or writ of eviction against you.
- Law enforcement cannot enforce an existing eviction order to remove you from your home (until July 22nd), if you have provided your landlord with written notice of a COVID-19 hardship or health issue. If your landlord has an order compelling the enforcement of an eviction order (or writ), you should respond to any motion to compel. Reach out to legal help for assistance with this.
Arizona renters may be protected from eviction through January 31, 2021, through the national CDC Eviction Moratorium. Check here to see if you are protected.
- Do I still have to pay rent during COVID-19 in Arizona?
Yes, Arizona renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.
Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.
If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:
- Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 hardships. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. You can use this draft letter you can use from the Arizona courts.
- Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
- Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
- Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
- Can my landlord evict me during COVID-19 in Arizona?
Arizona renters cannot be evicted from their homes if they have provided notice of a COVID-19 hardship or health issue, through January 31.
The Governor's order protects some people from being removed from their homes, if they have:
- Suffered a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19 (job loss, reduction in pay, closure of employment, obligation to care for children, etc.)
- A medical professional's order to quarantine because of diagnosis with the virus or symptoms of it;
- A health condition that makes them more at risk of catching the virus than the average person
The renter must have documentation of these circumstances and show them to their landlord, in order to be protected against eviction. You can use this sample letter to inform your landlord.
Once the emergency period ends, law enforcement can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.
- You may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through January 31, 2021. Check here below to see if you are eligible for them.
If you receive a notice to quit from your landlord, or an eviction lawsuit, reach out for legal help.
- Can my utilities be shut off during COVID-19 in Arizona?
During the emergency, Arizona renters are protected from utility shutoffs and late fee charges if they cannot pay their utility bill. They still are responsible for paying their bills during the emergency.
Governor Ducey and the power companies announced on March 26, 2020 that no customer will have power to their home shut off during the emergency, based on an inability to pay.
Also, the power companies will not be allowed to charge any penalties, late fees, or interest for unpaid utility bills during the emergency.
Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.
- Are you eligible for eviction protections under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
What is the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium orders that renters should be protected from eviction if they are unable to pay their rent due to hardships like job loss, income loss, or medical expenses. This protection lasts from September 4, 2020 through January 31, 2021.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium is not automatic protection against eviction. Renters need to fill in a Declaration document and give it to their landlord to get the protection.
Landlords may still try to file an eviction lawsuit against renters, but renters can use the moratorium to defend themselves in court.
Do you qualify for protection under the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
The CDC Eviction Moratorium applies to people who:
- Rent a home in the United States; AND
- Make less than $99,000 (or $198,000 if you file a joint tax return); AND
- Are facing eviction based on nonpayment of rent (not for other problems, like lease violations or criminal activity); AND
- Can show they’re unable to pay rent because they’ve had a financial hardship, like losing a job, decrease in income, or medical bills; AND
- Can show that they’ve been trying their hardest to pay their rent and find any rental assistance; AND
- Can show that they’re at risk of homelessness if they were to be evicted.
If you live in a state, county, or city that has an eviction moratorium, the CDC Eviction Moratorium doesn’t replace this local one. It adds on top of your local protections.
What does the CDC Eviction Moratorium get you?
The CDC Eviction moratorium can stop an eviction proceeding against you. It could stop your landlord from removing you from your home, or from a court giving your landlord an eviction order through Jan. 31, 2021.
- If your landlord has already started an eviction lawsuit against you, you can use the CDC Eviction Moratorium as a defense in court.
- You can use the Declaration form to tell your landlord that you are protected from eviction, and to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- You must follow the process below to be protected by the CDC Eviction Moratorium.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium does NOT get you rent relief:
- Even if you fill in the Declaration, this does not cancel rent that you owe, or stop rent or late fees from building up.
- After the CDC Moratorium expires on Jan. 31, 2021, you may be evicted for the rent that you owe.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium may NOT stop a landlord from suing you:
- Even after you fill in the Declaration and send it to your landlord, they might still file an eviction lawsuit against you.
- You can bring the Declaration to the court eviction hearing, to ask the court to stop the eviction.
- Call a local lawyer for help if your landlord sues you for eviction.
How do you use the CDC Eviction Moratorium to protect yourself?
To secure CDC Eviction Moratorium protection, follow these steps:
- Apply for rental assistance. Look for any rental and utility assistance in your area, and submit applications to these programs. Find local assistance programs here.
- Fill out Declarations. You and every adult in the household need to fill out a Declaration about your financial hardships and your attempts to get assistance. In the Declaration, you must say that you are telling the truth and that you may face legal consequences if you are lying. You can use this guide for help with the Declaration.
- Send the Declarations to your landlord, and also tell the landlord that you will do your best to pay when you can. Keep a copy of the Declarations, as well as any receipt or documentation that you have sent it to your landlord (like email receipt or screenshots of the message). These can be useful evidence that you followed the process correctly.
- Protections through Jan. 31st. After you send this, your landlord cannot remove you from your home for nonpayment of rent through January 31, 2021. They are also never allowed to harass or intimidate you, or force you to leave the home without a court order.
- If your landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against you, you can bring your Declarations to the court to ask them to stop the lawsuit. Contact a legal aid lawyer to help you with the lawsuit. Please note: Your landlord can still evict you for reasons other than nonpayment of rent, like for engaging in criminal activity in the home, violating building codes or health ordinances, or threatening the health and safety of other residents.
- You will continue to owe your rent. Try to make a plan about how you will take care of all the rent you owe. At the end of the Eviction Moratorium protections on Jan. 31, 2021, you will no longer be protected from being evicted.
- Make sure you know your lease and its terms. Some landlords may try to evict you based on violations of the terms in your lease. If you know your lease, you can protect yourself by making sure you do not break any of its terms.
If your landlord is trying to evict you, you should contact a legal aid attorney who helps with evictions. The CDC Eviction Moratorium might give you protections that lawyers can help you with.
What if I need repairs to my rental home during COVID-19?
Can I break my lease during COVID-19?
What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me during COVID-19?
Are eviction cases still proceeding through Arizona courts?
My landlord gave me an eviction notice
- My landlord gave me a notice to "pay or quit" my rental home in Arizona. What should I do?
You do not have to leave your home yet.
In Arizona, your landlord must give you an official notice that they may bring you to court to evict you for not paying your rent (or other reasons). The notice should give you time to either pay your rent or prepare defenses against eviction.
This official notice must follow some rules to be valid. If it doesn't follow these rules, then you can challenge it and stop an eviction.
These are the Arizona requirements for an eviction notice:
- The notice must be written down.
- It has to have your full name and address, and it must be signed and dated by your landlord.
- It must explain why you may be evicted -- whether it is for non-payment of rent, a lease violation, or other reasons.
- The notice has to say exactly how much rent and late charges you owe.
- It also needs to say that your rental agreement will end after 5 days if the problem is not fixed.
*If you paid a partial payment, and it was accepted by your landlord, your landlord can not evict you for the period covered by the partial payment.
Reach out for legal help if you think the notice isn't correct, or if you need assistance in defending yourself against the eviction. Find local help here.
- What if the landlord has just told me, face-to-face or over the phone, that I need to leave my home in Arizona??
A verbal conversation doesn't count as an "eviction notice". To be legal, the notice must be written down and given to you in the correct way.
Reach out for legal help if your landlord is trying to make you leave without going through the court process. This is illegal and a lawyer may be able to help you protect yourself.
- Do I have to leave my home in Arizona by the time of the eviction notice's expiration date?
No, you do not have to leave (or 'quit') your home by the date listed on the eviction warning notice.
Landlords cannot physically remove you, touch your personal property, change the locks, or cut off your utilities.
You do not have to leave your home until you have been brought to court, and a judge has ordered that your landlord can make you leave.
After the date on the eviction notice passes, then your landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court against you. You will be able to go to court and present defenses to protect yourself. Find local legal help here.
My eviction notice says that I will be evicted unless I pay back-rent I owe. What if I can't afford to pay it?
How long do I have after I receive an eviction notice to pay back the rent to stop the eviction?
I've been sued in court for eviction
- My landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit against me in court in Arizona. What should I do?
You should make sure that the landlord properly 'served' you with the lawsuit. If they didn't give it to you in the correct way, you can challenge the eviction lawsuit. In Arizona, a landlord must follow certain rules to let you know about the lawsuit:
- Only certain people can give you the lawsuit's Summons and Complaint. The landlord can not give you these papers - it has to be a person not involved in the case. This is most commonly a constable or a private process server certified under Arizona law.
- There are two ways for you to be served with the Summons and Complaint. A constable or private process server can give you the papers personally. In certain situations, the Summons and Complaint can be mailed to you by certified mail.
You should also reach out to local lawyers who can help you figure out if you were properly served and prepare for your court hearing so you can protect yourself against the eviction. Find legal help here.
- Do I have to do anything after I get an eviction Summons and Complaint in Arizona?
Once you receive the Summons and Complaint, you can file a document with the Arizona court known as an Answer.
You can file a written Answer to explain your side of the story and explain why you should not be evicted. If you are not able to file a written Answer, you may answer verbally at your hearing. Generally, it is better to file a written Answer.
Reach out to legal help to learn what your rights and defenses are in your eviction case. These organizations can help you deal with this lawsuit.
- Can I settle my eviction case without going to court in Arizona?
You can come to an agreement, but you should still go to court to make sure the court order for you to be evicted.
You can work with your landlord to work out an agreement before the date of the court hearing. This might be a payment plan or other agreement on what needs to happen for you to stay in your home.
Be sure to get this agreement in writing, so that you can prove it exists and that your landlord follows through on it.
Also, you should still go to court for your hearing date, to make sure the court knows about the agreement and gets rid of the lawsuit. If you do not go to court, the lawsuit might still continue and the judge might rule that the landlord can remove you. Go to court yourself to make sure this doesn't happen.
You can reach out for legal help to get assistance in negotiating an agreement with your landlord, and making sure this agreement is being followed. Find local legal aid here.
Its information is taken from these sources:Princeton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerGovernor's order on evictionsArizona court guidanceArizona Law HelpGovernor's power shutoff announcement