By: Bob Henry
As part of the State of Arizona’s response to the current public health crisis, on March 24, 2020, Arizona Governor Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-14, titled “Postponement of Eviction Actions.” A copy of the Executive Order is linked here: https://azgovernor.gov/executive-orders Residential landlords considering taking any action against tenants, including evictions, should be aware of this Order before proceeding.
In summary, the Order effectively requires all Arizona law enforcement officers who are typically charged with enforcing “eviction action orders” (from Arizona courts) to “temporarily delay enforcement” of such orders in various circumstances, including for tenants who are quarantined, or who are residing with others who are quarantined, because of COVID-19 (including self-quarantines pursuant to orders from licensed medical providers) or for tenants who have a health condition that “makes them more at risk for COVID-19 than the average person.” The Order also requires such actions to be delayed if the tenant has “suffered a substantial loss of income resulting from COVID-19” due to job loss, reduction in compensation, and similar economic problems arising out of the pandemic. Thus, the Order is designed to provide some protection for tenants who have medical or financial problems arising out of and relating to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Order also requires tenants (who seek “any relief from or delay in evictions”) to notify landlords if they are “suffering any of” these COVID-19 related circumstances, and to provide “supporting documentation” to landlords of their “financial hardship or state of quarantine” and, in so doing, the tenant is obligated to “acknowledge that the terms of the lease remain in effect.” Landlords, in turn, are prohibited from using any disclosure of such information under any “health and safety provision” in the lease “as a reason for termination of the lease.”
Notably, nothing in the Order eliminates a tenant’s obligation to continue to pay rent or otherwise comply with the terms of a lease. Indeed, the Order expressly confirms that tenants remain obligated to continue to pay rent and otherwise comply with their obligations under leases. However, with the Order restricting officers from enforcing eviction orders and numerous (evolving) provisions being set by the courts that materially impact court proceedings for evictions, these obligations will be difficult to enforce for landlords for the time being.
Executive Order 2020-14 is effective for 120 days (thus, until July 22, 2020).