When unemployment rates began to skyrocket due to the coronavirus pandemic, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey enacted an eviction moratorium which stops all evictions for nonpayment of rent until July 23, 2020. While renters have been pardoned from eviction for the past few months, the full balance of the rent will be due come July 23. Even with stimulus funds and increased unemployment benefits, many Arizona residents need to prepare themselves for when the moratorium ends. A lot of them have already filed for bankruptcy.
Exceptions to the Moratorium
Arizona reported a 75% decrease in evictions in May 2020 as compared to May 2019. This decrease wasn’t 100% because renters can still be evicted for reasons besides nonpayment of rate. If a renter damages the property, engages in illegal activity, or harasses other tenants, that renter can be evicted in spite of the eviction moratorium.
Arizona has spent more than $5 billion in unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic began, but the situation is improving. In April, Arizona’s unemployment rate was 13.4 percent. The unemployment rate decreased to 8.9% in May. Arizona has been doing slightly better than the rest of the country on average, with an unemployment rate of approximately 11% in May. Despite this, bankruptcy has still been an issue among Arizonians
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed on March 27, 2020. It has provided workers laid off due to the pandemic with an extra $600 in weekly federal benefits. This extra benefit is coming to an end shortly after the eviction moratorium. The terms of the CARES Act allowed for extra benefits to be paid through July 31, 2020. However, Arizona’s employment weeks end on Saturday, making the last CARES pandemic unemployment assistance payment July 25, 2020.
Arizona Agencies Offering Assistance
There are some agencies that are issuing grants to help Arizona residents pay their mortgage, rent, and utility payments. Some of these include:
City of Phoenix Human Services: 602-534-2433
Chicanos Por La Causa: 602-243-0838
Foundation for Senior Living: 602-285-0505 ext. 180
Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest: 480-387-5381
St. Vincent de Paul: 602-580-6948
Tanner Community Development Corporation: 1-844–982-3200
The Eviction Process in Arizona
Those who have not been paying rent during the eviction moratorium can expect a notice to pay or quit on their door once the moratorium expires. These notices typically expire after 5 days. If the renter doesn’t pay within the 5 days, the landlord can file an eviction action with the court. The renter will be served with a summons that will tell them when to appear in court. Failing to appear will result in a default judgment in favor of the landlord. If the renter does appear in court, the landlord will need to prove that the renter owes the late rent, or that the other reason for eviction is true. The renter may bring defenses such as habitability (the landlord didn’t properly maintain the premises) to reduce the balance of the debt owed. If the landlord wins the case, the landlord will serve you with a notice to vacate. This is a Sheriff’s Notice because the landlord is not legally permitted to force a tenant out of a unit- the sheriff must do so. The landlord may not dispose of any of the tenant’s remaining property for 14 days.
Debts Stemming from an Eviction
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy reformulates debts into a 3-5 year payment plan. Filers often use it when they are behind on mortgage and vehicle payments to avoid repossession. The past-due balance is spread out over the lifespan of the plan in a Chapter 13. Any debt you owe a landlord after an eviction may be discharged through Chapter 13, and may not even require full repayment depending on the other types of debts you have. You could also file Chapter 13 to pay your past-due rent over the 3-5 year repayment plan, but you could be left making monthly payments towards rent for your former apartment for years if you move.
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