Metro Phoenix tenants who could not pay their rent due to the pandemic are once again facing possible eviction.
The The United States Supreme Court’s decision last week to block an extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium allowed landlords to begin evicting tenants for missed payments last Friday.
August eviction requests are down from July, according to preliminary data from Maricopa County Courts. But only five days of the month were not covered by the deportation ban.
Eviction requests in the first weeks of September will be more indicative of what the owners decide to do, said Scott Davis, a spokesperson for the courts of law.
Nearly 120,000 renters across the state say they are behind in paying their rent, according to the latest household census survey. About 36,000 Arizona tenants say they will likely be evicted.
Metro Phoenix housing advocates say they have heard from numerous tenants with landlords who have moved to evict them this week.
“I just spoke to a tenant in Mesa who had an eviction hearing scheduled 15 minutes later,” said Pamela Bridge, director of advocacy and litigation at Community legal services. “Her last eviction notice before this week was in March, and she was scrambling to figure out what to do. “
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Bridge said Arizona tenants are no longer covered by the eviction moratorium to avoid or fight an eviction, get more time before they have to move, and get a judgment on their credit report.
Eviction Checklist for Tenants
Tenants can delay evictions if their rental falls into one of these categories, according to CLS, which provides free legal aid to tenants.
Check to see if your landlord has a mortgage forbearance. Until the end of September, there is still a moratorium on evictions for rentals of five or more units that are subject to federally backed forbearance agreements. Renters can find out if they are in a rental covered by this eviction ban on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.
Find out if your landlord has a federally guaranteed mortgage. Renters of housing funded by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Housing Administration or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs do not have to relocate for 30 days after their landlord has obtained a writ. eviction or a notice of departure. . Renters can search for this in property records and on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac websites.
Has your landlord accepted rental assistance in the past 30 days? Most rent assistance programs require landlords not to evict a tenant for 30 days after receiving the money. Tenants can contact the groups that administer the funds to obtain this information. A list of rental assistance programs in Arizona with their contact details is available at azevictionhelp.org.
Does your landlord bill you for rent between March 27, 2020 and July 24, 2020? The CARES Act prohibits homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages or tenants receiving federal grants from imposing penalties or late fees for unpaid rents during this period. Contact the community legal department at clsaz.org to fight against this type of eviction.
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The 4 legal scenarios for tenants
Arizona tenants facing eviction for failing to pay rent fall into four categories, according to CLS.
If a landlord hasn’t filed a complaint yet, it’s a typical eviction with a hearing, judgment, and potentially a writ.
Tenants must be given three days notice prior to the hearing.
If the landlord gets a judgment, the tenant could be locked out within three to 30 days, depending on whether the property is federally funded or whether the landlord has received rental assistance.
Bridge advises tenants in this situation to try to pay at least a partial payment, apply for rent assistance quickly, or negotiate with their landlord to move out and potentially avoid a judgment.
Tenants in this situation can also challenge an eviction by filing counterclaims if their landlord did not make the repairs or for “bad notice” because they did not receive the correct information and on time for their case.
The owner has filed a complaint, but there is no judgment yet.
Many tenants in the Phoenix area who were covered by the moratorium find themselves in this situation.
“The courts are scheduling these hearings now and prioritizing them,” Bridge said. “Tenants should come to these hearings to try to avoid a default judgment. “
Maricopa County eviction hearings are being held by video and phone, and no more than 30 per hour per court are held late.
Housing advocates advise tenants to get an updated register of what they owe, including deductions for rent assistance.
Davis said if a landlord and tenant decide to try to get rent assistance during the eviction process, the case will be granted a stay or delay.
Tenants in this situation can also challenge an eviction by filing counterclaims or “bad reviews”.
The landlord has received a judgment against a tenant, but not a writ of restitution, which is the court order issued for a police officer to lock a tenant.
This is another situation that many tenants previously protected by the moratorium face.
“In that case, the landlord has to change a judgment if they’ve received rent assistance for the tenant,” Bridge said. “Tenants need to monitor hearings for amended judgments. “
She said tenants in this scenario can’t use bad reviews, counterclaims or partial payments to challenge an eviction.
Tenants can pay whatever they owe and potentially get an eviction judgment overturned at this point, so tenants in this situation should rush to get rent assistance, Bridge said.
A writ was issued and the tenant moved out.
At this point, Bridge advises tenants to ask for a judgmental satisfaction if they have paid all they owe. This removes the eviction from their records and makes it easier for them to rent again.
An evicted tenant may also try to negotiate with a landlord to get a judgment overturned by moving early or paying what they can. It also helps their credit.
“There are legal ways for Arizona tenants to land on their feet during the eviction process,” Bridge said.
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