You have received a Notice of Material Breach for an apartment, townhouse, room, condo or house

Arizona has different laws and rules for evictions depending on the type of rental property. This section covers the laws and rules for residential landlord/tenant properties such as apartments, condominiums, townhomes, duplexes, and single-family homes. Arizona has different laws that apply to mobile home parks and recreational vehicles (RVs).
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In Arizona, a tenant can be evicted from their home for violating the lease or rental agreement. A violation of the lease or rental agreement is called a “breach”.
Sometimes a violation of the lease or rental agreement is called a “material breach” or a “material noncompliance.” Something is “material” when it is significant.
No matter where in the eviction process you might be, a lawyer may be able to help. Arizona has a variety of free and reduced cost legal help programs to help with eviction and housing issues. Visit the Legal Help section of the website to connect with legal programs in your community.
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Notice

Before the landlord can go to court and file an eviction Complaint against the tenant for a material breach of the lease or rental agreement, the landlord or property manager must give the tenant an opportunity to fix the problem. The first step for the landlord or property manager is to provide the tenant with a Notice of the breach.

The seriousness of the breach will determine which type of Notice should be given to the tenant:
10-Day Notice

  • A 10-Day Notice is a general notice to fix any lease violation that is significant or “material”
  • Examples might include too many people in the home or having pets prohibited by the lease.
  • If you receive more than one of these notices in the same rental period, different rules apply.
5-Day Notice

  • A 5-Day Notice is a more serious notice to fix any problem impacting health and safety.
  • Examples might include newspapers piled up in your apartment that are a fire danger, unsafe appliances, or unsupervised pets.
  • Tenants should not receive a 5-Day Notice for a 10-Day Notice problem.
Immediate Notice

  • The Immediate Notice is the most serious notice. This notice is sometimes called a “material and irreparable breach,” meaning the violation cannot be fixed by the tenant. The landlord can immediately end the lease.
  • Examples might include dangerous, violent, or criminal activity on the property.
  • Tenants should not receive an Immediate Notice for a 5-Day or 10-Day Notice problem.
For a material breach, the Notice must provide the tenant with the following information:
A description of the material breach.
A.R.S. § 33-1368(A)
A statement telling the tenant that if the tenant does not fix (or “cure”) the material breach within a specific number of days, the landlord may go to court to file an eviction Complaint against the tenant.
A.R.S. § 33-1368(A)

From the date the Notice of a material breach was given, the tenant has 10 days to fix the problem.

If the material breach is a risk to health and safety, the landlord must give the tenant 5 days to fix the problem.
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The 5 or 10 day period begins on the day after the date of the Notice.

R.P.E.A. Rule 3(c)
All calendar days – including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays – count toward the 5 or 10 day period.
A.R.S. § 33-1368(G)  |  R.P.E.A. Rule 3(a)

The landlord must deliver the Notice to the tenant in one of two ways:

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In person, either to the tenant or to another adult (not young child) who lives with the tenant. Posting the notice to the tenant’s door is considered to be an acceptable method of service.
A.R.S. § 33-1313(B)  |   R.P.E.A. Rule 18(f)
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By registered or certified mail.
A.R.S. § 33-1313(B)  |  R.P.E.A. Rule 18(f)

A Notice is not an official document from the court and does not need to be signed by a Judge or notarized.

When a tenant receives a 5 or 10 day Notice of Material Breach, the tenant has two options:

1. Fix the material breach within the 5 or 10 day period.

If the tenant fixes the problem within the 5 or 10 day period, the landlord cannot lawfully file an eviction Complaint against the tenant for that violation.
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As soon as you have fixed the problem, let the landlord or property manager know right away. In addition to emailing or texting the landlord or property manager, hand-deliver or send a signed and dated written letter to the landlord or property manager by registered or certified mail. Make sure to document when and how the problem was fixed by taking photographs or video and/or by having a witness present when the problem is fixed.
It is important to show (a) that you fixed the problem before the end of the Notice period and (b) that you told the landlord or property manager that the problem has been fixed.
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If the tenant does not fix the problem within the 5 or 10 day period, the landlord can lawfully file an eviction Complaint against the tenant.
A.R.S. § 33-1368(A)

2. Return possession of the dwelling to the landlord.

"Delivery of possession" means returning the keys to the property to the landlord and leaving the premises.

If the tenant returns possession of the dwelling to the landlord by moving out and returning their keys to the landlord within the 5 or 10 day period, the landlord cannot lawfully file an eviction Complaint against the tenant.
A.R.S. § 33-1310(3)

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Additional Material Breaches

If the tenant receives a Notice of Material Breach, fixes the problem, then later breaks the lease or rental agreement again in the same (or in a similar) way, the landlord does not need to give the tenant an opportunity to fix the problem. The landlord can give the tenant a written Notice informing the tenant that the landlord will be filing an eviction Complaint against the tenant in 10 days.
A.R.S. § 33-1368(A)
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Eviction Complaint & Summons

On the day after the 5 or 10 day Notice period ends, the landlord or their attorney can file an official eviction Complaint with the court that has jurisdiction. When the court receives a valid Complaint, the court will schedule a court hearing and issue a Summons.
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The Summons will provide the tenant with the date, time, and location of the hearing. The date of the court hearing will be 3-6 days after the date the Summons is issued by the court.
R.P.E.A. Rule 5(a)A.R.S. § 33-1377(B)
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If you have received an eviction Summons, free or reduced cost legal assistance may be available to help. The eviction process in Arizona can move very quickly. It is important to apply for or contact legal help as early in the process as possible. Visit the Legal Help section of the website to connect with legal programs in your community.
If the tenant owes less than $10,000, the local Justice Court has jurisdiction. If the tenant owes more than $10,000 the county Superior Court has jurisdiction.

A Complaint tells the court what the landlord or property manager believes the tenant did to violate the lease or rental agreement.

A Complaint for Material Breach filed in court by the landlord must include:

The specific reason(s) why the landlord wants to have the tenant evicted.

The date the tenant was served or given the required Notice.

How the tenant was served or given the required Notice.

If the tenant’s rent is subsidized, a statement indicating that the tenant’s rent is subsidized.

R.P.E.A. Rule 5(b)(7)  |  R.P.E.A. Rule 5(b)(8)
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Once the landlord or their attorney files the eviction Complaint with the court, the court will issue a Summons to the tenant.

A Summons is an official Notice of a lawsuit. A Summons provides information about the landlord’s Complaint and details about the hearing so the tenant can go to court and respond to the Complaint.

The landlord is responsible for getting a copy of the Summons to the tenant.
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The landlord must have a sheriff, constable, or certified private process server deliver the Summons to the tenant at least 2 days before the court hearing.
If the Summons is not delivered to the tenant at least 2 days before the date of the court hearing, the court may (but is not required to) dismiss the landlord’s Complaint.
The sheriff, constable, or certified process server must deliver the Summons to the tenant in one of two ways:

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Recognition can be illustrated by two individuals entering a crowded room at a party.

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In person (either to the tenant or to another person of suitable age and discretion who lives with the tenant).
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By posting one copy on the tenant’s door (or another place where the tenant is very likely to find it) then sending another copy to the tenant by certified mail, return receipt requested.

When the landlord has the tenant served with the Summons, the landlord must also include each of the following documents to the tenant:
An official (court-stamped) copy of the landlord’s Complaint

A copy of the Notice that the landlord gave to or posted for the tenant.

A copy of the Residential Eviction Information Sheet (or another document containing the same information).

A copy of any items on the lease or rental agreement and/or any lease addendums (add-ons or changes) that are directly related to the landlord’s claims against the tenant.

If the landlord claims the tenant owes unpaid rent, a copy of a financial record showing the tenant’s charges and payments for the prior 6 months.
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Responding to the Landlord’s Complaint

The tenant has a right to defend themselves by responding to the landlord’s Complaint. The purpose of an eviction hearing is to decide if the landlord has a legal right to have the tenant evicted because the tenant violated the lease or rental agreement. If the landlord does not have a legal basis for having the tenant evicted, the tenant can respond to the landlord’s Complaint by filing an Answer with the court.
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Answer

An Answer is a written statement from the tenant given to the court. The Answer should be based on facts and evidence about the allegations made in the landlord’s Complaint. Tenants have the right to file a written Answer or Answer on the record in open court.

There is a fee for filing a written Answer, but the tenant may file a Fee Waiver/Deferral at the same time and ask not to pay the fee due to financial hardship. There is no fee required when the Answer is brought in open court.
Defenses used to file an Answer to the landlord’s Complaint of material breach of a lease may be:
The lease or rental agreement was not violated.
You cannot be evicted if your landlord is unable to show that you violated the lease or rental agreement.

If you have witnesses or evidence that you did not violate the lease or rental agreement, bring those witnesses or that evidence to court.

You CAN be held responsible for the conduct of guests to your home. The only exception is if you could not have reasonably expected the violation to occur and attempted to prevent it to the best of your ability.
A.R.S. 33-1368(F)

The tenant can Answer the landlord’s Complaint in two ways:

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By filing an Answer with the court clerk, delivering a court-stamped copy of the Answer to the landlord before the court hearing, then appearing at the court hearing to argue against the landlord’s claims.
R.P.E.A. Rule 7
By taking part in the court hearing either in-person, over the phone, or online, to argue against the landlord’s claims.
R.P.E.A. Rule 11(b)
If the tenant has a legal defense to eviction, the tenant uses an Answer form to let the court know. An Answer will only be considered if the tenant appears at the court hearing, even if they file it with the court before the hearing occurs.
The landlord’s Notice of Material Breach, the eviction Complaint filed by the landlord, and the Summons received by the tenant must meet the requirements of Arizona’s laws and rules.
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If the Notice, Complaint, and Summons (or the delivery of the Notice, Complaint, and Summons) from the landlord did not follow the law or rules, the tenant may let the judge know they did not receive enough time or sufficient notice.

Violations of Arizona’s laws or rules include:
The landlord did not give proper Notice of Material Breach to the tenant.
Your landlord did not properly serve or deliver the Notice to you.
A.R.S. § 33-1313(B)R.P.E.A. Rule 18(f)

The Notice did not tell you in detail how you violated the lease or rental agreement or how many days you had to fix the problem.
A.R.S. § 33-1368(A)

If either of these are true, the court may dismiss the Complaint.
R.P.E.A. Rule 13(a)(2)
If any of the above are true, the court may dismiss the Complaint.
R.P.E.A. Rule 13(a)(1)

Counterclaim

A landlord is required to keep a rental unit in a “fit and habitable” condition and not violate the lease agreement. If a landlord has not kept the unit “fit and habitable“or if the landlord has violated the lease or rental agreement, a tenant can file a Counterclaim. Counterclaims are fact-based complaints that the tenant can prove with evidence (examples: printed photographs, witnesses). These must be filed with the court and served to the landlord before the eviction hearing.
In an eviction for material breach where the landlord also claims you owe them money, you have the right to Counterclaim for any amount you can recover if your landlord has violated your lease or rental agreement or Arizona law.
A.R.S. § 33-1365

This might include problems with electricity, heating and cooling, insect or pest infestations, leaky pipes, or other unsafe conditions.
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Tenants are required to prove that they told the landlord about these problems and that the landlord failed to correct them within a reasonable time.

If the tenant wants to make a Counterclaim:

The tenant files a written Counterclaim with the Clerk of the Court

The tenant delivers a court-stamped copy of the Counterclaim to the landlord before the court hearing

The tenant appears at the court hearing to tell the judge why the court should grant the Counterclaim.
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Before the Hearing

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Before the court eviction hearing, a tenant and landlord may come to an agreement or negotiate a way to avoid an eviction.
If your landlord does not have a legal basis for having you evicted, you may want to contact the landlord or the landlord’s attorney and provide the landlord or attorney with a copy (not the original) of whatever evidence you have. If the landlord and tenant agree to a settlement, the landlord or landlord’s attorney must ask the court to dismiss the eviction action since the landlord brought the Complaint.
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Any agreement between you and your landlord should be made in writing, signed and dated by you and the landlord. Make sure to keep a copy of the agreement for your records.

If your landlord agrees to stop the eviction, the written agreement between you and your landlord should include a promise by the landlord to ask the court to dismiss the Complaint.
R.P.E.A. Rule 9(f)

A stipulated judgment is a judgment evicting the tenant without a hearing.

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Sometimes, before the eviction hearing takes place, the landlord’s attorney will approach or contact the tenant and ask the tenant to sign a written judgment. By signing the written judgment, the tenant agrees to whatever the judgment says.

It is called a “stipulated” judgment because both the landlord and the tenant agree (or “stipulate”) to whatever the judgment says without waiting to argue their cases in front of the judge.
Once the tenant has signed the stipulated judgment, the tenant cannot change their mind. The tenant loses their right to present a legal defense to eviction or to make a Counterclaim against the landlord. The tenant also loses their right to appeal the judgment against them.
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After the tenant has signed the stipulated judgment, the landlord’s attorney will present it to the judge, the judge will sign it, and the tenant will be evicted.

Every stipulated judgment must include the following written warning to the tenant

WARNING!
1. The landlord’s attorney is not a court employee.
2. By signing, you are consenting to the terms of a judgment against you and the landlord’s attorney will now be able to evict you.
3. You may have your wages garnished and the judgment may appear on your credit report.
4. You may lose your right to subsidized housing.
5. You may NOT stay at the property, even if the amount of the judgment is paid in full, unless you get the agreement in writing or get a new written lease or rental agreement.

R.P.E.A. Rule 13(b)(4)
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Preparing for an Eviction Hearing

Eviction hearings in Arizona are often limited in the time available before a judge for each case. If you have an eviction hearing scheduled, a lawyer may be better able to address the legal issues during a hearing. Free or reduced cost legal assistance may be available to help. Visit the Legal Help section of the website to connect with legal programs in your community.

To prepare for your eviction hearing:

Learn about your rights and options.

Reviewing the information on this website may be helpful in knowing how to respond to an eviction Complaint.

Decide if you want to settle, go to court, or file an Answer.

Settle
You can try to negotiate a settlement with your landlord before the hearing in exchange for getting the case dismissed. If you make a deal, get everything in writing. You should still attend your hearing, to make sure the case is dismissed. Be careful if signing a “stipulated judgment”. A stipulated judgment means you are agreeing that you owe a certain amount of money and you agree to leave the property.

Going to Court
If you leave your home without going to court, the case does not go away. If you do not attend the hearing, you will likely automatically lose and receive a default judgment.

Raise Defenses and File an Answer
If you have a defense, you have three ways to tell the court:

File formal documents with the court before your hearing
Bring formal documents with you to your hearing.
Tell the judge your story without any documents.

If you will go to court, prepare documents and evidence and make a plan to attend.

Before going to court or attending virtually, write down your case number. This is how some courts announce when it is time for your hearing - by the case number and last names. Eviction hearings may only last a few minutes, so be on time and ready when your case is called. 

If you plan to share documents or evidence, make sure to provide copies to the landlord or their attorney and the judge.

Put the court date in your calendar and set a reminder or alarm to arrive on time. Understand how the hearing will be held and what options are available to attend.

If attending by telephone or video conference, try to find a quiet place to connect to the hearing, understand how the phone or video conference system works to mute and unmute yourself, and make sure your device or computer has enough battery or charge. If attending in person, try to arrive at the court 30 minutes before the hearing is supposed to start and listen for your name and case number.