Justice Court: AZ Tenants Still Required to Pay The Rent

Tenants: whether you rent a home, apartment or small business space, have you followed the news about rent relief? Landlord-tenant disputes and eviction cases cross that bench at Gila County Justice Courts, and Judge Jordan Reardon this week shared an update explaining elements of the ‘CARES Act’ and its impact on Arizona renters.

“Laws vary from state-to-state, which has caused some confusion about recent federal legislation such as the CARES Act, and how that applies here in Arizona,” said Judge Reardon. “Tenants are still required to pay rent in Arizona, and no, there isn’t a federal moratorium on evictions. The CARES Act does guard tenants from a landlord filing a nonpayment of rent complaint through July 25 against tenants who in federally-subsidized housing programs, also those tenants who live in properties with federally-backed mortgages. But make no mistake, these tenants still have an obligation to pay rent – and they should expect late fees for payments made after July 25.”

“The best advice remains that tenants who are unable to pay rent because of covid-19 should talk directly with their landlords, arrange to pay what they can time -- and negotiate with their landlord, and finalize that agreement in writing.  Honest and open communication between landlords and tenants is the first step and could help both parties avoid seeing each other in court.”

Judge Reardon also suggested checking with Gila County Community Action Program staff to ask if cash-strapped tenants might qualify for short-term rent assistance. Tenant who need rental assistance may also apply through the Department of Housing (housing.az.gov), and should read eligibility requirements before applying. Low-income tenants may also apply for rental assistance at DES at (des.az.gov/services/basicneeds/shelter-housing/short-term-crisis-services).

Information about the Governor’s Order 2020-14 and COVID-19 and sample forms in English and Spanish can be found on Community Legal Services’ website at  clsaz.org/covid-19.  CLS is offering free webinars concerning the law during COVID-19 on Wednesdays and Fridays and individuals can register at  clsaz.org/events.

Phoenix-based Community Legal Services (CLS) is dedicated to providing legal assistance, advice or representation, self-help materials and legal education so people can know their rights. Among CLS missions: helping survivors of domestic violence; assisting victims of consumer fraud and abuse, protecting tenants from unlawful/unfair practices by landlords, foreclosures, legal problems affecting agricultural workers, wage claims and other employment matters, and federal and state programs affecting peoples’ health and economic stability.  CLS provided the helpful ‘Q and A’ below addressing a few questions related to tenancy, evictions, and covid-19.

Question: Didn’t the Governor’s Order say that I don’t have to pay rent?

No. Under the Governor’s Order 2020-14, a constable will not lock out a tenant who has provided the landlord notice and available supporting documentation of certain COVID-19 circumstances. However, even these tenants who delay being locked out of their units under the Order will owe rent and will receive judgments against them. Read more ‘Q and A’ on the website  clsaz.org/covid-19


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