by Mark Zinman – Zona Law Group
Today (3/24/20), Governor Ducey signed an executive order delaying writs of restitution on non-payment of rent cases. The order will expire in 120 days.
There is NOT a complete moratorium on evictions. This means that managers are allowed to serve notices and file any type of eviction (non-pay, noncompliance, immediates).
There IS A STAY on writs of restitution in non-payment of rent cases, provided certain criteria are met. In other words, a property manager and owner can proceed all the way through the court process, but may get delayed in executing the writ if:
- The resident has been quarantined due to a diagnosis of having Coronavirus.
- The resident is ordered by a medical professional to quarantine due to showing symptoms of Coronavirus
- The resident has a household member that has been diagnosed with Coronavirus;
- They have a health condition that makes then more at risk for Coronavirus than the general public;
- The resident can show they have been substantially financially impacted by Coronavirus;
It will be an affirmative duty for the resident to bring forth evidence of the foregoing claims to be able to get the writ of restitution delayed (there is no timeline of when this is required to be given). We understand and recognize that almost everyone in the entire state will be able to fit into one of the previous categories. Every Arizona resident can make a claim about how they have been negatively affected by Coronavirus, whether medically or financially.
Currently, writs are available up to 45 days after judgment, and it if it is later, the Plaintiff is supposed to file a motion explaining why they waited so long. We are hoping that Governor Ducey will amend his Order so that 45 day period is extended enabling landlords to order writs later on judgments.
The Order provided that it will expire 120 days.
It does provide an exception that a writ can be issued upon motion of a party, if approved by the court. Therefore, landlords can get writs in immediates and noncompliances, and in other cases where the court deems appropriate. While this is very general and vague, this does give additional assistance to landlords.
We understand the impact that having residents in units that are not paying the rent. This Executive Order could be disastrous for this industry. We are advising clients to continue to file their evictions and attempt to work with residents at the same time. For those residents who don’t want judgments entered against them, this will motivate them into paying. Many residents will fall behind due to the Coronavirus, and a landlord who takes no action will provide no incentive to their resident. If they start the process, they are more likely to communicate and hopefully enter into a payment plan. Further, for other people, landlords may be able to use the judgment as leverage to negotiate to get the resident to simply vacate and in exchange the landlord could vacate the judgment or waive amounts owed. Despite all of this, we are sure that there will be residents who simply abuse the system and attempt to not pay rent for months. We are discussing whether repeated non-payments in back-to-back months, may be grounds to file a motion and have the judge order the writ be issued to avoid abuse of the system.