Arizona renters hurt by COVID-19 must follow these 4 steps by Aug. 22 to avoid eviction

Sharon Rashad is three months behind on the rent for her apartment in Arizona City, southeast of metro Phoenix.

Because the state’s eviction moratorium was recently extended, the 60-year-old who worked at a nearby correctional facility until being laid off in March shouldn’t be evicted anytime soon.

Arizona renters struggling due to COVID-19 have gained more time to avoid eviction, but they must submit new paperwork, including proof they applied for rental aid, to their landlords by Aug. 22 to keep their homes.

Rashad, who said she was denied unemployment benefits, filled out an application to get rental help from the Arizona Department of Housing’s $5 million fund this week.

She said she was injured in a car accident a few days after the layoff and hasn’t been able to work since then.

“My landlord has been understanding and my family and church have helped me so much, but they are all struggling too,” said Rashad, who owes $2,100 in unpaid rent. “I have been so afraid of becoming homeless.”

A portrait of Sharon Rashad in front of her Arizona City apartment on July 28, 2020.
Under Gov. Doug Ducey’s extension of the state’s eviction moratorium through Oct. 31, renters must:

Re-notify the landlord of their hardship.
Show proof of their ongoing hardship.
Request a payment plan from their landlord.
Show they have completed an application for rental aid.
“We know many Arizonans continue to face economic hardship as a result of COVID-19,” governor spokesman Patrick Ptak said. “Our desire is to see people stay in their homes and ensure a strong safety net for those who are struggling. This extension allows renters extra time to access assistance programs and enter into payment plans with landlords.”

Millions of dollars in assistance are supposed to start flowing soon to tenants and landlords from state, county and city programs after being bottlenecked for months. That should help tenants make up what they owe to landlords and eliminate the risk of eviction when the latest moratorium ends.

But if renters don’t understand or follow the new requirements of the moratorium extension, they could get kicked out, said Pamela Bridge, of Community Legal Services, which provides free legal help to low-income Arizonans.

“Tenants and landlords have the next month to work on the new requirements,” she said.

Nonprofit Native American Connections opened this affordable apartment complex in downtown Phoenix at Sixth Avenue and Fillmore Street in 2019.
How to qualify for extended eviction relief
Renters are eligible for eviction relief if:

Someone in the home is quarantined because of symptoms or a diagnosis of the new coronavirus.
A tenant’s health condition puts them at high risk for contracting the virus.
A tenant lost their job or faced a pay cut due to COVID-19.
Or a tenant can’t work due to caring for a child who normally would be in school.

Previously, renters were required to notify their landlord in writing and provide proof of their hardship, such as a layoff letter or pay stubs.

WAITING: Arizona rental aid is so backlogged, applications from April still haven’t been processed

They must do the following before Aug. 22 to qualify for the eviction extension:

Re-notify the landlord of their hardship in writing.
Provide proof to the landlord of ongoing hardship due to COVID-19, such as an employer letter of separation, documentation that the renter has filed for unemployment, a medical order from a doctor, medical records or medical history, or other verifiable forms of documentation.
Request a payment plan in writing from the landlord.
Provide proof to the landlord of a completed application for rental assistance. A list of rental assistance programs is at
Show copies of all documentation if a constable shows up.


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Renters can find tip sheets, forms and other resources online at

Renters should make sure the landlord receives the documents by sending them through email or certified mail and should keep copies on hand to provide to a judge or constable.

Judges can still order evictions, but constables should let renters stay
Even if a renter provides the required paperwork to the landlord, the landlord can take the tenant to court for overdue rent and a judge can grant an eviction judgment.

But if a tenant shows the paperwork to a constable who arrives to lock the tenant out, the constable is supposed to let the renter stay.

A landlord can go back to court to ask for a “motion to compel” to proceed with the eviction. If that happens, a renter should provide all documentation to the judge ahead of the hearing and request protection under the eviction moratorium.

All accumulated rent and late fees come due once a tenant’s health or income improves or the order expires Oct. 31, whichever comes first.

Many worry renters faced with a buildup of debt won’t be able to pay.

That’s why Ducey’s latest order urges tenants to pursue aid from rental assistance programs as soon as possible to minimize or eliminate back-owed rent and put money more quickly in landlords’ pockets.

‘Do what you need to do to get those applications in’
Maricopa County Justice Courts and constables were bracing for a “tidal wave” of evictions before Ducey extended the moratorium.

Now justices hope that struggling renters understand and follow the new guidelines by the Aug. 22 deadline, court spokesperson Scott Davis said. Otherwise, evictions could rise.

“It’s early on so we won’t know of any specific complications until we see them,” he said.

Tenants should also be sure that their applications for rental assistance are complete. As many as 40% of requests for help to the Arizona Department of Housing have been rejected as “incomplete” because of missing documentation, according to recent state data.

“We know some renters think they have applied for aid, but their applications weren’t considered complete,” Bridge said. “We are telling tenants to call, call and call to get confirmation of their applications.”

The state housing department hired four staffers to reach out to applicants who are missing documentation and help them complete the paperwork.

“We’re hopeful that the changes and the adjustments made with this policy will help ensure that no renter is in that position where they aren’t able to complete an application for assistance,” Ptak said. “Do what you need to do to get those applications in.”

Another thing tenants should know: Approval of a payment plan from a landlord is not required. But renters must have proof that they requested one.

Some renters have said that landlords have not responded to requests for a payment plan or insisted on an unaffordable amount upfront.

The governor encourages tenants to communicate with their landlords and for landlords to agree to reasonable terms and waive late fees, Ptak said.

The Governor’s Office provided guidance for tenants and landlords on the eviction relief requirements.

Speeding up state aid to renters and landlords
Arizona renters have struggled to receive money from the Arizona Department of Housing’s Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance fund since it was launched May 30.

Nearly 19,000 renters had applied, but only 1,266 had been approved as of July 20. About $3.6 million remained to be given out.

“These funds are critical on many levels, but what is most important is being able to connect those who need financial assistance with those funds quickly and efficiently,” said Cynthia Zwick, who runs Wildfire, a nonprofit helping to administer rental assistance programs. “Too many people are on the edge of homelessness.”

The Governor’s Office says new funding should help the backlog.

Ducey announced he would dedicate $650,000 to increasing staffing to speed up the review of applications.

“We want to see these programs utilized to their fullest extent possible,” Ptak said, “and we want to see the dollars get out the door faster.”

Local governments also now offer rent help
Beyond the state rental assistance program, several of Arizona’s largest local governments — Maricopa County, Phoenix and Mesa — last week launched their own renter and mortgage aid programs using more than $50 million in federal CARES Act funding.

The programs could assist more than 11,000 residents, officials estimated.

Arizona tenants can apply to and receive both state and local rent help.

Maricopa County and Phoenix will require less documentation and have higher income caps than the state, which may make it easier for residents to get help.

Maricopa County’s program is offering county residents (except those living in Phoenix or Mesa) as much as $4,500 in rental aid, as well as money to pay utilities, with the option to apply for more.

“We want to keep as many people in their homes as possible because we know that family stability, safety, and health begin with a roof over someone’s head,” said Maricopa County Human Services Director Bruce Liggett. “We understand the urgency and ask for people’s patience as we try to assist as many households as we can.”

Phoenix’s program will provide tenants and homeowners as much as $3,300 in mortgage and rental help, as well as up to $900 for utilities.

Mesa’s program has $1.1 million to help residents pay utility bills. The city already has given out about $18,000, officials said.

Mesa’s program that provides up to $640 to residents for utility bills doesn’t help renters pay landlords. That’s something that housing advocates are concerned about since Maricopa County has excluded both Phoenix and Mesa residents from its rental assistance program since those cities are providing their own aid.

“Currently, our rental assistance is limited to the small business program through the CARES Act,” said Mesa spokesperson Kevin Christopher. “We began the residential assistance portion of our CARES programs with utilities only and not rental assistance. No decision has been made about whether that will change.”

A full list of programs to help renters around the state can be found at

Landlords can apply for help, too
Some landlords warned they could face foreclosure if Ducey extended the eviction moratorium because the rent they collect covers their mortgages.

In a nod to those concerns, Ducey announced last week he would provide $5 million to landlords facing COVID-19 challenges.

The governor still is working on a plan for who will be eligible and how to apply. Those details are expected to be released soon.

Landlords say they can’t wait.

“Nearly $130 million in rental relief funds currently exist to help renters covered by the Ducey moratorium,” said Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, the CEO of Arizona Multihousing Association. “To date, about $1.2 million has been disbursed to those in need. There is simply no excuse for such ineffective bureaucracy in the midst of a statewide crisis.”

The Multihousing Association calculated approximately $127 million in aid by tracking statewide programs for both renters and landlords, smaller grants to nonprofits and federal funding that hasn’t been allocated yet.

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Many Arizona rental-property owners have given leeway to tenants who haven’t received rental assistance from the government yet, Gilstrap LeVinus said. But property owners, especially mom-and-pop landlords, are feeling the pressure from their own bills, including loans, payroll, taxes, utilities and maintenance, she said.

Although the state’s rental assistance program cuts a check directly to the landlord when a tenant is approved, too few are being approved too slowly, landlord and housing advocates say.

Some point to Houston’s housing fund as an example of what should be happening in Arizona. In mid-May, $15 million in rent relief was claimed by Houston tenants within two hours of the city’s renter-aid program launching.

Advocates also are watching how eviction moratoriums are working in states such as California and New York, which also extended relief for renters.

And apartment groups across the country are lobbying for $75 billion to $100 billion from Congress in renter and landlord aid in the next round of stimulus funding.

How to get help from Arizona
Arizona renters can receive up to $2,000 per month toward rent from the state.



Be a resident of Arizona.
Have lost at least 10% of income due to the pandemic.
Provide proof of one month of income before COVID-19 and current monthly income.
Provide a copy of the lease and a driver’s license or state ID.
Meet income caps, which vary by household size and county.
Agree to pay 30% of current income to the landlord. (If a household has no income, members do not have to pay.)
How to get help from Maricopa County
Maricopa County tenants can receive $1,500 a month in rent aid for up to three months, with the option to request more, and nearly $850 to pay utilities.



Live anywhere in Maricopa County except Phoenix or Mesa because those cities have their own assistance programs.
Have a yearly household income up to 300% of the federal poverty level, which equates to about $65,000 for a family of three.
Have past-due rent between March and December of this year.
Submit evidence of financial hardship due to COVID-19, a photo ID, lease agreement and household income.

How to get help from Phoenix
Phoenix renters can receive as much as $3,300 in rental help (and homeowners can receive as much as $3,300 in mortgage help) as well as up to $900 for utilities.



Be a Phoenix resident.
No income limit.
Show proof that income has dropped due to COVID-19 through pay stubs or other documents.
Need for assistance from March through December of this year.
How to get help from Mesa
Mesa residents can receive up to $640 in utility assistance.

Apply: See “Immediate Financial Assistance” at


Be a Mesa resident.
Have experienced a job loss, furlough, cut to work hours or other economic hardship related to COVID-19.
Have a yearly household income of no more than 200% of the federal poverty level. That’s about $43,500 for a family of three.
Submit documentation of income for the past 30 days.


AUTHOR: Catherine Reagor and Rebekah L. Sanders

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