What Will Happen In Court
Eviction cases move through the court system fast. After the written notice to the tenant, the landlord begins the case by filing a summons and complaint with the court and serving it on the tenant by one of the acceptable methods.
The Summons tells the tenant:
- The Date and Time of the Trial
- The Location of the Court and Room number of the Trial
- Telephone number for People with special needs
The trial date may be only two days away. If the tenant does not go to the court on the date and time listed, and the landlord or his attorney is present, then a judgment will most likely be entered against the tenant. If you receive a Summons and Complaint, you are encouraged to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
After receiving the Summons and Complaint, the tenant should file an answer. The answer form gives the tenant several options to check and explain as to why the landlord should not win. The answer fee for the tenant is $26. If the tenant is unable to afford the answer, the tenant may apply for a waiver of that fee. If the tenant believes that the landlord owes him money, then the tenant may file a counterclaim. The tenant will still need to go to Court at the date and time listed in the summons.
At the date and time listed on the summons, the justice of the peace will start calling cases. If both parties are there, the judge will ask the tenant whether the complaint is true. If the tenant says that the complaint is untrue, then the tenant will need to briefly tell the judge why. If the reason appears to be a legal defense, then the judge will need to take testimony from both sides and make a decision after a trial. The trial may or may not occur that day depending on the court’s schedule and workload. If either side needs a delay, they may ask for it but continuances will be granted for no more than three business days.
If a landlord receives a judgment against a tenant, he may apply for a writ of restitution for repossession of the residence in five days. In other words, the landlord can take back the residence lawfully with the aid of the constable in five days. The filing fee for the writ is $97. These writs are served by constables, who will direct the tenant to leave at that time. The landlord can cut off utility services to the residence at that time but cannot dispose of or sell any of the tenant’s personal property for 21 days. (A.R.S. §§ 33-1368E – 33-1370).
A tenant can avoid the hassle, expense and embarrassment associated with a writ of restitution by turning in the keys to the landlord. Doing so ends the tenant’s possession of the residence.
Appeal from a Judgment
A tenant may appeal a forcible detainer judgment to superior court. Within five days from the date of the judgment, the tenant must do the following.
(1) File a Notice of Appeal.
(2) File a Designation of Record.
(3) Pay a $51.00 appeal fee or file a request for a waiver of that fee.
(4) Post a cost bond in the amount of $250 or file an affidavit in lieu of that bond.
If the tenant wants to stop the execution of the judgment, then he must also file a supersedeas bond. A supersedeas bond must be in an amount equal to the judgment and costs. Superior Court Rule of Civil Appellate Procedure 6(a)(1). In addition, a tenant must continue to pay rent to the court to stay an eviction action. Superior Court Rule of Civil Appellate Procedure 6(a)(5).
(Information is current as of 11 August 2005)
The Court Process for an Eviction