How often can your landlord try to evict you?
Irene Montoya says there doesn't seem to be a limit.
"I'm so upset about this, I don't know how to make it stop," she tells me.
Montoya and her husband were just a few years into a 10-year lease when the South Phoenix home they were renting was sold.
While the rental lease was part of the sales agreement, Montoya says her new owner Ahmad Soughar has been trying to kick them out from the beginning.
She thinks their minimal rent, just $900 a month, became a huge target and that Soughar knows he could get much more from a different renter.
"This house would be about $1800. It would double our rent immediately," she says.
Montoya says Soughar has tried multiple reasons to evict her, including owing thousands of dollars in rent.
"Every single month we pay, he returns it certified mail and then takes us to eviction saying we didn't pay," she says.
It started in April last year.
That was the first eviction attempt.
It was followed by another in September, and one in November.
In the last year, Montoya has survived three eviction attempts.
Attorney Samuel Doncaster with Doncaster Law Firm is her attorney.
"If you buy a house with a fully disclosed lease, you need to honor the lease. It was up to him to determine then, when he was buying the house, if it was a good deal. He doesn't just get to come back and extract more money from the deal," Doncaster says.
On Wednesday, Montoya was in court again facing a fourth attempt by Soughar and his attorney Mark Tucker.
This time they argued the least was a month-to-month agreement that could be canceled with notice, not a 10-year lease.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah didn't buy it and ruled "a writ of eviction in this case is denied."
The case was dismissed and there will be a hearing to see if Montoya will be able to recoup her attorney fees.
"I feel relieved today, very relieved," Montoya told me outside the courthouse.
Soughar had not responded as we tried contacting him about the lease and eviction attempts.
We tried to get answers as he and his attorney Tucker were leaving the courthouse.
I asked why he has tried so many times to evict and would there be another attempt.
"Back up, back up," Soughar said though we were not blocking his way.
Attorney Tucker covered the camera lens to block us taking video.
"No comment, no comment," they said and walked away.
Though his fourth eviction attempt was dismissed, Soughar and Tucker have filed a fifth attempt.
So Montoya will have to come back and fight yet another battle to stay in the house.
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