If my tenants are late with their rent every month, at what point can I consider their lease broken and start the eviction process?

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If my tenants are late with their rent every month, at what point can I consider their lease broken and start the eviction process?

They call to make arrangements for a later payment but then they fail to honor it. I’m not trying to be a mean person but I need them to pay their rent on time so that I can pay the house payment.

Asked on February 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As soon as they are late, you could file for eviction based on nonpayment--if they get the money to you by/before the court date, you would dismiss the case, but if they fail to do so, they'd be evicted.

For chronic late payment, send them a "Notice to Cease" documenting the times they've been late; citing or quoting the relevant lease language about when rent is due; stating that late payment is violation of the lease; and that you may evict them for continued late payment. Send the notice some way you can prove delivery (e.g. certified mail with return receipt).

Then the next time they are late, send them a Notice to Quit--a notice reiterating when rent is due, noting that they had recieved a Notice to Cease paying late but violated it, and instructing them to leave. Also send it some way you can prove delivery. Then if they don't leave, file an eviction action for breach of lease.

Two things:

1) After you serve them a notice to quit for breaching the lease, do not accept rent; acceptance of rent in a situation like that is often considered a waiver of your right to evict for the breach.

2) Since there are various nuiances of timing, form of notice, etc., you are advised to retain a landlord tenant attorney to handle this situation for you; it will cost you a few hundred dollars, but is worth it, to make sure you do everything right and get the eviction. Alternately, if you want to handle it yourself, look up the landlord-tenant law and make sure you follow the rules *precisely.*


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