How to serve a “notice” on a residential tenant and how to count the days.

Posted over 1 year ago. Applies to Arizona, 1 helpful vote

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With one exception, all notices may be served via hand-delivery or certified mail.

The 5-Day Notice. The 5-Day Notice to Pay or Quit may be served by hand-delivery or via certified mail.

  • Hand-delivery. To calculate the time you must wait before filing an eviction action, you count five calendar days beginning the day after hand-delivery to the tenant. For example, if you serve a 5-Day Notice on the second day of the month, then the fifth day of the notice is the sixth day of the month, which means you can file the eviction action on the seventh day of the month.

  • Certified mail. To calculate the time you must wait before filing an eviction action, you count five calendar days beginning the day after the tenant signs for the letter. For example, if you mail a 5-Day Notice on the second day of the month and the tenant signs for the letter on the fourth day of the month, then the tenant must pay the rent by the ninth day of the month, otherwise you can file the eviction action on the tenth day of the month.

If the tenant refuses to sign for the letter, then (whether the tenant ever signs for it or not) the law presumes that the tenant received the letter and the five days in the notice begin after the five days allowed for serving the notice by mail. For example, if you mail a 5-Day Notice on the second day of the month and the tenant never signs for the letter, the law presumes the letter was received on the seventh day of the month and the tenant must pay the rent by the twelfth day of the month, otherwise you can file the eviction action on the thirteenth day of the month.

The process of serving a 5-Day Notice, getting a judgment, and then getting the tenant out of the rental unit will take about two to four weeks.

The Notice of Abandonment. This is the exception. The Notice of Abandonment must be POSTED on the front door (or other conspicuous entry point) of the rental property AND sent on the same day via certified mail. Hand-delivery does not apply; if you are able to hand-deliver the notice, then you clearly know where the tenant is and you cannot legitimately claim that the tenant is “absent" from the rental unit or that the tenant has abandoned the rental unit. The five days in the Notice of Abandonment, however, are business days, rather than calendar days.

The Notice of Abandonment can be served if the tenant is absent from the rental unit without notice to the landlord: (1) for seven days, if rent is delinquent for ten days, and there IS personal property belonging to the tenant inside the dwelling unit OR (2) for five days, if rent is delinquent for five days, and there IS NO personal property belonging to the tenant inside the dwelling unit. Consequently, the soonest you can serve a Notice of Abandonment is the eighth day of the month or the sixth day of the month, respectively (unless the tenant is also delinquent paying rent for the prior month). If you post and mail the notice on the eighth day of the month, then count five business days beginning the day after you mailed the notice. If you post and mail the notice on the sixth day of the month, then count FIVE BUSINESS DAYS beginning after the day you mailed the notice. In both cases, after the time has passed and if the tenant has not contacted you OR paid the rent, then you may re-enter the rental unit, take possession, change the locks, and move & store the tenant’s personal property (if any).

If the landlord proceeds with the abandonment, then the landlord can get possession of the rental unit in about two weeks, but the landlord loses the opportunity to get a money judgment against the tenant. The landlord can still sue the tenant in a regular civil action later and get a judgment for rent, late fees, damages, etc., but a regular civil action takes several months, rather than just a couple weeks.

Additional Resources

1. The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act 2. The Arizona Landlord's Deskbook

The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

The Arizona Landlord's Deskbook

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