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Eviction changes: 3 new requirements that renters who can't pay rent need to know

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Posted at 4:38 AM, Aug 24, 2020

PHOENIX — The Arizona eviction rules have changed. Starting on Aug. 22, 2020, renters have more requirements to meet if they cannot pay their rent because of the coronavirus pandemic, but wish to stay in their homes.

As part of Governor Doug Ducey's executive order issued on July 23, renters can no longer only claim health issues to delay eviction enforcement.

"There are going to be people who were able to stay under the previous executive order who won't be able to get that delay now," said Pam Bridge, an attorney with Community Legal Services.

She said renters must now have a COVID-19-related financial hardship, such as loss of a job or need to stay home with the children to help with their online schooling. Renters have to prove that hardship and have to send that to the landlord.

Renters also need to show that they applied for rental assistance through a state, county, city, or non-profit agency.

"Just saying you started an application is not going to be good enough," Bridge said. Because those agencies are overworked, she said renters should not expect to get a confirmation that their application was sent or received. Instead, she recommended taking a digital screenshot that shows a completed application was submitted.

Also, renters must come up with a reasonable repayment plan for rent that is already past due. The landlord does not have to accept that plan, but renters must show that they've created a plan and that it was sent to their landlord.

"Sometimes the tenant thinks they gave docs to the landlord, but they never got them. That's a proof problem," she said. So, make sure you make copies of what you sent and have proof that you did send it.

If you live in the City of Phoenix, Community Legal Services (CLS) has a contract to help any renter with COVID-19-related issues through its Tenants Eviction Assistance Project (TEAP). Bridge said their team can help renters avoid evictions, and can also potentially help to remove evictions that stay on records for seven years.

To reach TEAP, call (602) 385-8880 or go to www.clsaz.org. If you live outside the City of Phoenix, CLS can also help renters with lower incomes with some legal issues.