By Mark Zinman | Zona Law
Arizona is known as a cure-state, which means that a tenant can cure a non-payment of rent eviction by paying everything that is due and owing, provided it is paid prior to the judge entering a judgment. We have seen a rise of confusion on this issue lately with property managers, specifically: (1) courts giving tenants until the end of the court day to pay; and (2) managers being conflicted due to company policy requiring tenants to pay the next month’s rent if they are paying after the 27th of the month.
As mentioned above, the law in Arizona is that for a non-payment of rent case, the tenant can stop the eviction at any time UP TO THE TIME THE JUDGE SIGNS THE JUDGMENT, by paying everything that is due and owing at that time. It doesn’t matter if you no longer want the resident there. A tenant has a right to pay and stay if you are proceeding with a non-payment of rent case. If payment is tendered before the eviction is filed, the tenant can pay and stay by paying the rent, late fees, and other charges. After the case is filed, if the tenant can pay those charges, the court costs, and attorneys’ fees then the case has to be dismissed before the judge signs the judgment.
The law is also clear that after judgment has been entered, it is in the landlord’s sole discretion as to how to proceed and whether to reinstate the lease.
Analyzing the two (2) issues mentioned above:
1.) GIVING TENANTS UNTIL THE END OF THE DAY TO PAY
When we were doing cases in person, many tenants brought the funds to court, and we dismissed the case on the record. Now, with courts going virtual, that is no longer an option. Therefore, the courts have established a procedure that if the tenant says they can pay that day, the court will give them until 4:00 pm the day of court to pay. They must pay in full and in certified funds.
If this happens, we will notify the client and tell them they must accept the money if it is paid in full.
2.) REQUIRING NEXT MONTH’S RENT TO BE PAID
We are aware that some clients require that if rent is being paid after the 27th of the month (or another similar day) that the manager is not to accept rent unless the tenant also pays the next month’s rent.
This policy is acceptable, provided it complies with the above-mentioned statutory cure rule. Whether you can enforce the policy depends on the specifics of where you are in the eviction process; here are the general requirements:
- If you have not yet filed the eviction, and the tenant offers to pay, even if it’s late in the month, you must accept the payment, as long as it has all rent, late fees, and other charges;
- If you have filed the eviction, but do not yet have the judgment, you must accept the payment, as long as it has all rent, late fees, and other charges, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs;
- If you have the judgment signed by the judge, then it’s solely in the landlord’s discretion whether to reinstate the lease. Therefore, if you have a policy that you will only accept the payment if the tenant pays the next month’s rent, that is a perfectly fine policy to follow.
A few things to remember:
- If you want to follow such a policy, please put it in writing.
- Make sure you uniformly apply your policies to avoid potential allegations of fair housing violations.
- If you use a portal that allows payments after the 4th of the month, make sure your portal doesn’t require the next month’s payment unless you have already received a judgment. We have had more trials set because clients posting next month’s rent on the portal when it’s not due. Then, the tenant can’t pay just the current balance before court. If your company doesn’t allow payments on the portal after the 4th of the month, then this is not an issue.