In 2009, the Arizona Supreme Court adopted the Rules of Procedure for Eviction Actions (RPEA). At that time, the court rules were the most significant change in the area of evictions. Since that time, there have been many proposed rules which have been submitted. A new rule is submitted when a party requests the Supreme Court to adopt a rule, but filing a formal petition. The petition is publicly filed and To date, there have been no significant amendments which have been adopted. However, in 2016 and 2017, there are numerous proposed rules which would significantly impact how evictions are handle. WZP attorneys continue to be significantly involved in such matters to ensure that our client’s interests are protected. Check back here to get updated information on such matters, or contact our office to request our firm’s newsletters.
Currently, there is a pilot program testing a new rule which would permit parties in an eviction action to file a Notice of Change of Judge without cause. While this exists in other areas, it can cause significant problems in eviction actions due to their streamlined procedure. First, landlords should be concerned because tenants may use the rule to delay the evictions. On the other hand, tenants should be concerned that landlords, who are more familiar with the judges, may attempt to “forum shop” to avoid judges they believe are tenant friendly. WZP attorneys believe that landlords are actually more apt to abuse the rule than tenants, and we spoke out against it accordingly.
Second, there is a current proposal which would require landlords to use mandated forms to serve their tenants, including 5-day notices and 10-day notices. Further, the same rule would require that any party or their attorney who files an eviction, only use the court-approved form. This prohibition of attorneys drafting their own pleadings does not exist in any other area of the law. As of March, 2017, the petition has been submitted to the Supreme Court and numerous objections have been filed. Also, as of March, 2017, there is pending legislation would prohibit any agency or court from mandating forms, as part of the eviction process. The legislation was approved by the House of Representatives and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. Our industry is waiting to see what occurs both in the Supreme Court and the Legislature.
Finally, there is another proposed rule change would require a court to ask questions of parties and their attorneys whenever the parties sign a stipulated judgment in an eviction action. It is common practice in eviction actions that prior to a hearing, the parties will stipulate that a judgment be entered. In many cases, the tenant will do this to be able to negotiate better terms or simply to be able to get back to work and avoid needless delay when there is no defense to the case. The comment period is open for interested parties to submit their opinions to the Supreme Court.