Service of Process Requirements in an Arizona Eviction Action

In Arizona, the landlord must give proper notice to successfully prosecute an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.  If the required rules and procedures are not followed, the case may be postponed or dismissed by a judge. 

Service of the Initial Notice

ARS 33-1313 addresses service of the initial notice to a tenant in an eviction lawsuit.  It states in relevant part that notice to the tenant is properly made if it is (1) delivered in hand or (2) mailed by registered or certified mail to the tenant at the place held out by him as the place for receipt of the communication. In the absence of such a designation, the landlord can deliver or send it to the tenant’s last known place of residence.  If the notice is mailed by registered or certified mail, the tenant is deemed to have received it on the date the notice is actually received by him or five days after the date the notice is mailed, whichever occurs first.

Who Can Serve Notices in Arizona?

In Arizona, landlords can serve eviction notices and lease termination notices themselves. Landlords may choose to hire a sheriff, process server or independent party over eighteen (18) years old to serve an official notice, but they are not required to do so by law.

Service of the Summons and Complaint

Service of the summons and complaint must be made by personal service or post and mail service for a special detainer action.  For a forcible detainer action, service may be accomplished by personal delivery or by leaving copies of the papers at the tenant’s dwelling with a person of suitable age and discretion.

The landlord must also serve a copy of the lease agreement and any addendums with the complaint. In addition, if the action is based on non-payment of rent, a copy of the accounting of charges and payments for the preceding six months must be attached. Service of process must occur at least two days before the date set for the initial appearance in court.

Who May Serve the Summons & Complaint?

An eviction action summons and complaint must be served by a constable, sheriff or licensed process server.

 The Proof of Service

A landlord can demonstrate proof that a notice was delivered through the following methods:

  • Hand Delivery – by completing a Declaration of Service at the time of delivery.
  • Certified or Registered Mail – via return receipt and by completing a Declaration of Service after mailing.

Alternative Methods of Service

There are alternative service methods available if authorized by a judge. For example, for forcible detainer actions the landlord may apply to the court for an order allowing service by posting the notice on the residence.  To do this the landlord must show other methods of service are impracticable, and must make a reasonable effort to provide the person being served with actual notice of the action. 

Consequences of Improper Service

A complaint that is not served within the time required by applicable statute may be dismissed at the initial appearance date unless the defendant waives service in writing.  Alternatively, the initial appearance may be continued upon a showing of good cause to allow additional time for service. If the defendant appears at the initial appearance, the appearance constitutes a waiver of any objections to the form or manner of service unless the defendant asserts those grounds at the initial appearance or in a previously filed written answer.

Please contact Lynx Legal at 888-441-2355 or with any questions regarding the service of process requirements summarized above, or if you need to start a case. Our experienced professionals are standing by to assist in any way we can.

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