How to Evict a Tenant Without a Lease in Arizona

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How to Evict a Tenant Without a Lease in Arizona: Guide for Landlords

Eviction with no lease agreement in Arizona
Eviction with no lease agreement in Arizona

Introduction

As a landlord, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to evict a tenant without a lease. In Arizona, it’s entirely possible to proceed with the eviction even without a formal rental agreement.

However, you must avoid common mistakes and follow protocol when going through the eviction. We will guide you with a step-by-step outline as well as answering some frequently asked questions.

Can You Evict a Tenant Without a Lease?

A tenant without a written lease in Arizona is often considered to be in a month-to-month tenant, which legally constitutes “tenancy at will.” Even without a formal written agreement, the tenancy is still governed by local landlord-tenant laws. Therefore, landlords have the right to evict tenants assuming the landlords adhere to the regular legal guidelines and have a legitimate reason for eviction.

Arizona law requires landlords to provide tenants with a proper notice to vacate the rental property as the first step in the eviction process. The eviction notice typically needs to give the tenant 30 days to leave. If the tenant fails to comply with the eviction notice, you can request an eviction hearing with your local court.

Lawful Reasons for Eviction

In Arizona, a landlord must act upon a valid reason when evicting a tenant, even if there is no written lease agreement. Since there is no end date to the tenancy, you simply treat the agreement as a month-to-month contract and give a 30 day notice. Below are some legal reasons to end tenancy early in Arizona:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Violation of rental agreement terms (even verbal agreements)
  • Health and safety violations
  • Illegal activity on property
  • Property damage
  • Landlord selling or moving into property

You may require the tenants to vacate the property in as little as five days in situations such as failure to pay rent or unlawful activity on the property. However, you must provide the tenant with a written notice in order to follow the legal process.

Landlord-tenant laws in place even without a lease
Landlord-tenant laws in place even without a lease

Unlawful Reasons for Eviction

In order to avoid falling into legal trouble, landlords should ensure they have legal grounds to evict tenants. For example, it is unlawful to evict a tenant based on gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation. You also cannot evict someone as retaliation for the tenants reporting a code violation or filing a complaint against you. The following is a more comprehensive list of unlawful reasons to evict tenants:

  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Violation of Lease Terms
  • Retaliatory Rent Increases
  • Failure to Provide Notice

Keep detailed records in order to have a defense against claims of unlawful eviction. Before you proceed with eviction proceedings, consult with a legal professional to ensure you comply with Arizona law.

How Do I Evict a Tenant Without a Rental Agreement?

After identifying a lawful reason to evict a tenant without a lease, you can proceed with the eviction. Follow our general step-by-step guide.

General Step-by-Step Process for No-Lease Evictions

Step 1: Send a Notice to Quit

Before filing for an eviction, you need to send a notice to quit to the tenant. A notice to quit is a formal written notice informing the tenant why and when they must vacate the property. In Arizona, property owners need to give a 30 day notice period for a tenant without a lease. In order to be legally valid, the notice may be delivered by hand or certified mail to the tenant’s address.

You also should give the tenant a time period in which they can remedy the situation before you file for eviction.

Step 2: File for an Eviction Hearing

If the tenant fails to vacate, you may proceed with the eviction procedure. To file an eviction lawsuit with the court in Arizona, you will first submit a complaint form and a summons form. You will need to include all relevant documentation such as the tenant information, the notice to quit, and proof of serving the notice.

Arizona court hearing
Arizona court hearing

Once the documents are filed, a hearing will be scheduled within 5 days. The tenant is given a chance to answer the eviction claim. If they do not answer, the court will hold the hearing and a judgment will be issued. Both sides receive a chance to defend their side. If either party fails to show up to the hearing, the judgment usually rules in favor of the party who appears. If the judge sides in your favor, you are ensured of an eviction.

Step 3: Authority Eviction

In Arizona, once you’ve won the case, the court orders a writ of restitution. The tenant is given a final warning to leave the property. This order is served 5 days after judgment by a constable or sheriff. Once the writ expires, if the tenant still has not vacated the premises, the sheriff has the right to forcibly remove the tenant.

Why Might You Have a Tenant Without a Lease?

Sometimes you may find yourself managing tenants without a formal lease or rental agreement. Various reasons lead to this, but knowing the potential causes can keep you prepared to handle the situation.

Evicting a Tenant You Inherit

One of the most common ways to end up with a tenant without a lease is when you buy or inherit an occupied property. Both circumstances leave you with tenants you did not enter into a verbal or written agreement with.

Evicting inherited tenants
Evicting inherited tenants

Hopefully you would have acquired a copy of the lease agreement with the previous owner. However you could still end up with inherited tenants without a rental contract. You need to decide if you will formalize the tenancy or pursue eviction.

If moving forward with the eviction process, you would need to follow these steps:

  1. Give an official notice to quit with a proper waiting period.
  2. If the tenant refuses to leave, you would need to file an eviction with the court.
  3. Provide documents with the reason for the tenant needing to vacate the property.
  4. If the court sides with you, give the court order to the local sheriff for eviction.
  5. Do not ever try to evict the tenant yourself.

It is common for tenants to be permitted to stay on the property until the original verbal agreement expires. While this may not be ideal for your plans, it is fair to the tenant. Before purchasing a property, it is important to know the current arrangements with the tenant to avoid a no-lease situation.

No-Lease Eviction of Squatters

Another tenant without a lease that you may need to evict is a squatter. A squatter could be someone you previously rented to but wouldn’t leave after their contract expired. But a squatter could also be someone who moved in without initial permission.

Evicting squatters follows very similar eviction procedures as removing renters. Although you may want to just remove the squatters on your own, this would put you in legal trouble.

Sheriff needs to enforce eviction
Sheriff needs to enforce eviction

You will follow similar steps by giving proper notice of eviction. In Arizona, the squatters have five days to vacate, after which you may file an unlawful detainer suit in court. If the judge reviews the order and files in your favor, you will have a sheriff or local police enforce the eviction.

Even though they are trespassing, squatters must be treated fairly with rights. You as the owner should always go through local courts and authorities rather than attempting to personally resolve the situation.

Tenancy-at-Will Eviction Without a Lease

A tenant-at-will is a tenant who lives on your property past their lease end date. Usually a month-to-month tenancy has been arranged with a verbal or written agreement. This arrangement can be terminated by either the landlord or tenant with a 30-day notice.

An exception to this is when a tenant fails to pay rent. Arizona allows landlords to give a 5-day notice to pay rent or quit.

Since no long-term lease is in place, you do not need to give a reason for ending the tenancy as long as you give the 30-day notice period.

Fact Check: What is a Notice to Quit?

Before filing an official eviction, you must always first serve the tenant with a notice to quit. It is after that method fails that you can move onto the eviction process. Arizona law requires the notice to quit, regardless of whether there is a lease agreement.

Send notice to quit via certified mail
Send notice to quit via certified mail

A notice to quit is the official way of informing a tenant when they must leave a property. The notice should include the following information:

  • Property address and lease length
  • Tenant’s name and contact information
  • Landlord’s name and contact information
  • Why the notice to quit is being put forward
  • When the tenant must vacate property
  • Who the tenant can contact with questions

The court will only acknowledge the notice to quit as valid if there is proof of receipt by the tenant. Sending the notice via certified mail ensures proof.

A Bonus Option: Cash for Keys

One quick method that sometimes works is to offer cash for keys. You offer your tenant a financial incentive to vacate the premises voluntarily.

Consider offering cash for keys
Consider offering cash for keys

By paying a flat fee to the tenant in exchange for the return of the keys, you avoid the court fees of filing for eviction. You won’t be able to force the tenants to leave, but if they accept the offer, it speeds up the process of removing them from the property.

FAQ’s: How to Evict Someone Who is Not on the Lease

Every state requires varying laws regarding eviction. Hopefully the answers to these common questions will prove helpful.

Can you evict someone without a lease in Arizona?

Yes, you can evict someone without a lease in Arizona. Even if there is no written contract, the tenants are still protected by landlord-tenant laws, and landlords must follow local laws.

Is evicting a tenant without a lease expensive?

The cost of eviction without a lease varies depending on legal fees, court costs, and any damages or unpaid rent. In Arizona, the legal and court costs usually varies on an average from $150-$375. Any damages or unpaid rent would be on top of that.

How much time does a landlord have to give a tenant to move out?

For a tenant on a month-to-month tenancy without a lease, the eviction notice is 30 days. If the rent is unpaid, the notice period could be as little as 5 days unless rent is paid within that time period.

What do you do when a tenant without a lease refuses to leave?

If your tenant refuses to leave your property even after the written notice to quit, you have the right to file for eviction. The sooner you get the process started, the sooner you will be able to remove the tenants to have your property back in your possession.

Can landlords keep personal property that was left behind after an eviction?

If your tenant leaves behind personal property after an eviction, you have must give them a written notice of 14 days to collect the items. Any property not collected after the 14 days can be sold or donated. You may use that money to recoup any costs of storing the items or repairing any property damage. Leftover money from the sell must be sent to the tenant. Any property of little to no value or perishable items can be disposed of.

How do you write an eviction notice without a lease?

The notice to quit or eviction notice for a tenant without a lease is the same as you would write for a tenant with a lease. However, instead of referring to the terms of the lease, you would refer to the terms in a verbal or expired agreement. Below is an example to reference.

Sample eviction notice
Sample eviction notice

Can you be evicted without a lease?

A tenant can be evicted from a property even without a written lease. A written contract is preferable, but a tenant without a lease can be treated as a tenant on a month-to-month basis in the eviction process.

A notice to quit must be given, but the landlord can evict a tenant without a lease even without the tenant being at fault for anything. However, if the tenant believes a landlord is being unfair in the eviction, the tenant can fight their case at the eviction court hearing.

Act Fast When Evicting a Tenant Without a Lease

Act quickly with eviction process
Act quickly with eviction process

In order to avoid further issues, acting quickly is ideal in approaching the eviction process. Follow the following steps to act in your own best interest within the law:

  • Determine if your reason for eviction is legal or not.
  • Figure out what type of tenancy you are dealing with.
  • Consider the cash-for-keys method.
  • Send a notice to quit.
  • Proceed to a court eviction if needed.

Conclusion

It may seem daunting to take on an eviction. If you follow the process within the law, you can regain your property in good time. Acting quickly is crucial throughout the process.

After looking into the details, if you are still hesitant to approach the eviction process with a tenant, contact us at Unbiased Options Real Estate. Our knowledgable team can connect you with a professional that will guide you through the process. We can guarantee your navigation through the eviction procedure without mistakes.

 

 

The information provided in this blog article is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Unbiased Options Real Estate does not offer legal advice and encourages readers to consult with a qualified legal professional regarding their specific circumstances.

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