Arizona Lawmakers Say Pima County Eviction Ban Is Illegal

By Jill Ryan
Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 8:50am
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 12:35pm
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Two Republican lawmakers are asking the Arizona attorney general to block an eviction moratorium that Pima County supervisors approved earlier this month.

Sen. Vince Leach and Rep. Bret Roberts allege the move violates state law and the state constitution because it blocks evictions that aren't covered under a federal eviction moratorium.

Leach and Roberts requested the attorney general look into the ban on Tuesday under a 2016 law allowing a single lawmaker to trigger an investigation if they believe a city or town is violating a state law.

Supervisor Matt Heinz said at the Feb. 2 meeting that some landlords are getting around a federal eviction moratorium by finding loopholes to evict tenants who should be covered.

County spokesman Mark Evans said the county has not seen the complaint and could not immediately comment.

The county ban is an emergency public health regulation and would be broader than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium, which only applies to evictions due to non-payment of rent. Both the federal and county bans expire March 31.

County supervisors discussed the possibility that their action could bring a legal challenge but approved it on a 4-1 vote. Heinz later issued a statement explaining that evictions for material breach of contract as opposed to non-payment of rent have gone from 6% of evictions before the pandemic to 21% now.

If the attorney general determines the policy conflicts with state law, the municipality has 30 days to eliminate it or face loss of state tax revenue. If he decides it may be breaking the law, the attorney general can ask the state Supreme Court to decide the matter.

Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office has 30 days to investigate the complaint.

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