Study: Maricopa County Eviction Judges Rarely Rule In Tenants' Favor

Published: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 3:41pm
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The William E. Morris Institute for Justice first studied Arizona evictions in 2005. Fifteen years later, the institute finds many issues persist in the state’s eviction courts.

The new report looked into 1,097 Maricopa County eviction cases between 2018 and 2019. In those cases, 94% of landlords were represented by attorneys, while only two renters had lawyers.

“We’ve got a landlord attorney and we’ve got an unrepresented tenant, so there is an unequal bargaining power there,” said  Ellen Katz, William E. Morris Institute for Justice director. 

Tenants did not appear in court in 77% of cases considered. In those cases, the judge ruled against the tenant the majority of the time.

“Even if the tenant is not there, the court has an obligation to make sure that the landlord has met their obligations under the Landlord Tenant Act, and that is not happening in a lot of situations," Katz said. 

The report warns evictions can lead to homelessness as renters are burdened not only with unpaid rent but also with late payment charges and court fees. A record of eviction can also disqualify renters from subsidized housing later on, the report says.

More than 65,000 Maricopa County renters were evicted in 2018. Katz said the eviction process is especially important to consider now, with so many people struggling to pay rent amid the pandemic.

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