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Gov. Doug Ducey ordered that constables not enforce writs of restitution (residential eviction orders) if the tenant is quarantined or if the tenant suffered a substantial loss of income due to COVID-19. 

If tenants want to seek protection under this order, they must notify their landlord in writing.

A text or an email likely would be sufficient, but a printable form is now available on the Arizona Judicial Branch webpage for tenants to use.  Search under “Notice to Landlord – Postponement of Eviction” or visit azcourts.gov/selfservicecenter/Landlord-Tenant-Disputes-Eviction-Actions.

The governor’s order does not automatically delay all residential eviction court hearings. It also does not keep eviction cases from being filed. However, with this new order, tenants who meet the criteria and who inform their landlords in writing can temporarily delay enforcement of the part of the judgment that requires them to move.

A link to the governor’s order is available at azgovernor.gov.

The governor’s order makes it clear that he did not allow residential tenants to simply stop paying their rent. It does, however, put landlords in an awkward position.  

Even if they are not receiving rent, and even if they cannot gain possession of the residence, none of their obligations as a landlord go away (e.g., repair heating, plumbing, appliances, etc.).

The executive order relief process is triggered when tenants provide the landlord with written documentation of their belief that the order should apply to them. 

If a constable arrives to enforce a writ of restitution and the tenant believes they are entitled to relief but the tenants have not yet provided documentation to their landlord, many constables will allow the tenant five business days to provide documentation to the landlord before enforcing the writ. 

A landlord who disagrees with a constable’s decision to delay enforcement of a writ of restitution may file a motion to compel in court. 

The constable may choose to return the delayed writ to the court with or without a report.

Currently, justice courts are allowing landlords and tenants to appear by telephone for their court dates.

If you have an upcoming court date, please contact the court for further guidance.

Judge Gerald Williams is the justice of the peace for the North Valley Justice Court.