Your Day In Court

The landlord must give you, the tenant, written notice that the you have five calendar days to pay the rent or the rental agreement will be terminated and the tenant will be evicted. The notice will be given to you when nonpayment occurs. The notice may be hand-delivered or sent by certified or registered mail. If the notice is sent by certified or registered mail, the judge will assume the tenant received the notice on the date the tenant signs for it, or five calendar days after it was mailed, whichever occurs first.

Your Day in Court begins when a complaint, made in writing and under oath, is filed with the court by the landlord.

Trial will be set by the court clerk three to six business days after the complaint is filed.

You may plead guilty or not guilty. “Guilty” means the defendant/tenant agrees everything in the landlord’s complaint is true and you have no defense against the eviction. “Not Guilty” means the tenant has a legal defense to the eviction complaint.

If you intent to plead “Not Guilty” be sure to bring rent receipts and all papers you want the judge to see and any witnesses who can provide relevant information.

The trial will be on the same day as the plea if held in justice court, or a few days later if in superior court. (Depending upon the amount of damages involved, a complaint for eviction will be filed in either the justice court precinct where the rental property is located or in the superior court for the county in which the rental property is located.

An action may begin in the justice court if the damages are $10,000 or less. For damages between $5,000 and $10,000, a complaint may be filed in either justice court or the superior court. Damages greater than $10,000 require that the case be filed in the superior court.)

Any request to postpone a trial must be made in writing under oath. The justice of the peace or judge of the superior court will consider the request and may grant the continuance for a brief period, based upon “good cause shown”, which are rarely given as it’s presumed the tenant would only wish to continue an action merely to “buy more time” in which to stay in the property.

The tenant can respond in writing to the landlord’s complaint, but may go to trial without sending a written answer. To file a written answer, the tenant must pay a fee set by law. The tenant must appear in court at the trial to explain any legal defense to the judge. If the tenant fails to appear at the trial, the court can enter an automatic plea of guilty for the tenant and enter a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff/landlord.

Defenses

The tenant can show as possible defenses: rent not yet due; five day notice not properly given; complaint filed before the five day notice expired; summons improperly served; retaliation by the landlord; rent already paid by the tenant; full rent payment including late fees and applicable costs refused by the landlord; or some other breach of rental agreement by the landlord.

The tenant may file a counterclaim against the landlord in writing for any money he/she is entitled to arising out of the rental agreement or the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Fees must be paid to file a counterclaim.

12-1179. Appeal to superior court; notice; bond

A. Either party may appeal from a justice court to the superior court in the county in which the judgment is given by giving notice as in other civil actions within five calendar days after rendition of the judgment pursuant to this section. The appeal shall be filed in accordance with this section, and the time to appeal shall not be extended or otherwise affected by the filing of a motion to set aside or vacate the judgment or similar motion.

B. A party seeking to appeal a judgment shall file with the notice of appeal a bond for costs on appeal. The justice of the peace shall set the bond in an amount sufficient to cover the costs on appeal. The bond shall be payable to the clerk of the justice court. If a party is unable to file a bond for costs on appeal, the party shall file with the justice court a notice of appeal along with an affidavit stating that the party is unable to give bond for costs on appeal and the reasons therefor. Within five court days after the filing of the affidavit, any other party may file, in the justice court, objections to the affidavit. The justice of the peace shall hold a hearing on the affidavit and objections within five court days thereafter. If the justice court sustains the objections, the appellant shall file, within five court days thereafter, a bond for costs on appeal as provided for in this section or in such lesser amount as ordered by the justice court.

C. A party seeking to appeal a judgment may stay the execution of either the judgment for possession or any judgment for money damages by filing a supersedeas bond. The justice court shall hold a hearing on the motion within five court days after the parties advise the justice court of their failure to stipulate on the amount of the bond. The stay is effective when the supersedeas bond or bonds are filed.

D. The party seeking to stay the execution of the judgment for possession shall file a supersedeas bond in the amount of rent accruing from the date of the judgment until the next periodic rental date, together with costs and attorney fees, if any. The tenant shall pay to the clerk of the justice court, on or before each periodic rental due date during the pendency of the appeal, the amount of rent due under the terms of the lease or rental agreement. Such amounts shall be made payable by the justice court to the owner, landlord or agent as they accrue to satisfy the amount of periodic rent due under the lease or rental agreement. In all cases where the rent due under the terms of the lease or rental agreement is paid through the justice court as set forth in this subsection, the order of the court may include a one-time handling fee in the amount of ten dollars to be paid by the party seeking to stay the execution of the judgment for possession. In no event shall the amounts paid per month exceed the amount of monthly rent charged by the owner for the premises. If the tenant raises habitability as provided for in sections 33-1324 and 33-1364 as an affirmative defense to the nonpayment of rent or the tenant has filed a counterclaim asserting a habitability issue, the justice court shall retain all money paid under this subsection pending a final judgment.

E. If during the pendency of the appeal the party seeking to stay the execution of the judgment for possession fails to pay the rent on the periodic rental due date, the party in whose favor a judgment for possession was issued may move the justice court to lift the stay of the execution of the judgment for possession. The justice court shall hear the motion to lift the stay of the execution of the judgment for possession and release accrued monies, if any, within five court days from the failure of the party to pay the periodic rent due under the terms of the lease or rental agreement. If the judgment appealed from involves a finding of a material and irreparable breach pursuant to section 33-1368 or section 33-1476, subsection D, paragraph 3 the justice court shall treat it as an emergency matter and conduct a hearing on a motion to lift the stay of execution of the writ of restitution within three days. If the third day is a Saturday, Sunday or other legal holiday, the hearing shall be held on the next day thereafter.

F. The party seeking to stay the execution of the judgment for money damages shall file a supersedeas bond in the amount of the judgment, together with costs and attorney fees, if any. The amount of the bond shall be fixed by the court and payable to the clerk of the justice court.

12-1180. Stay of proceedings on judgment; record on appeal

When the appeal bond is filed and approved, the justice of the peace shall stay further proceedings on the judgment and immediately prepare a list of all entries on the justice’s docket in the action and transmit it, together with all the original papers, to the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the trial was had.

12-1181. Trial and judgment on appeal; writ of restitution

A. On trial of the action in the superior court, appellee, if out of possession and the right of possession is adjudged to him, shall be entitled to damages for withholding possession of the premises during pendency of the appeal and the court shall also render judgment in favor of appellee and against appellant and the sureties on his bond for damages proved and costs.

B. The writ of restitution or execution shall be issued by the clerk of the superior court and shall be executed by the sheriff or constable as in other actions.

12-1182. Appeal to supreme court; stay and bond

A. In a forcible entry or forcible detainer action originally commenced in the superior court, an appeal may be taken to the supreme court as in other civil actions.

B. The appeal, if taken by the party in possession of the premises, shall not stay execution of the judgment unless the superior court so orders, and appellant shall file a bond in an amount fixed and approved by the court, conditioned that appellant will prosecute the appeal to effect and will pay the rental value of the premises pending the appeal and all damages, costs, and rent adjudged against him by the superior court or the supreme court.

Judgment by court and eviction order

Landlord:

If, after the trial or hearing, the tenant is to be evicted, the judge shall order:

rent due as provided in the rental agreement; and/or,
any charges due as allowed by the rental agreement.

The judge also may order:

attorney fees, filing fees and jury fees against the tenant; and/or
damages alleged and proven.

To evict you, the landlord must go back to court after the trial and have the court issue an eviction order called a Writ of Restitution. An eviction order is issued no earlier than the sixth calendar day after judgment if the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit. The order instructs the sheriff or constable to evict the tenant.

Eviction timeline for nonpayment of rent cases

How to count time:

Never count the day a notice is delivered or the complaint is served; start counting the next day.
Count either calendar or business days as indicated.

Notice of Termination of Rental Agreement :::
At any time after failure to pay rent
Complaint
:::
The complaint is not filed until after the five day notice expires
Service of Summons
:::
Summons must be served at least two business days before plea or trial
Plea of Tenant
:::
May be followed immediately by trial plea of tenant in justice court
Postponement of Trial
:::
Postponement no longer than three days in justice court, five days in superior trial court, for good cause shown, supported by an affidavit
Trial and Judgment
:::
The trial will be held no sooner than three days and no more than six days from day the complaint is filed or the plea entered
Eviction Order Served
:::
Eviction is no sooner than the sixth calendar day after the trial and judgment