Arizona Small Claims Court Process

Arizona Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: January 12, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $3,500
Deadline to File 1 year – Violation of statutes

3 years – Oral lease agreement

6 years – Written lease agreement

Filing Fee $25
Appeals Not allowed

Small Claims Court Basics in Arizona

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The hearing does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to a justice of the peace or hearing officer, who makes a decision.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Arizona?

A typical small claims case in Arizona takes three to four months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the hearing is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Arizona?

In Arizona, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $3,500.

To attempt to recover a higher amount, the suit must be filed as a civil case in the Justice Court.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claims Case in Arizona?

The time limit for filing a small claims case in Arizona depends on the type of case filed:

  • One year: Violation of a statute (e.g. security deposit rules)
  • Three years: Breach of an oral lease agreement
  • Six years: Breach of a written lease agreement

Tenants are required to dispute security deposit deductions within 60 days (whether by written notice, filing a complaint, or otherwise), or else they waive their right to make a claim.

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Arizona?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney. Arizona Small Claims Court does not permit the use of an attorney unless both parties agree to it in writing.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Arizona?

In Arizona, Small Claims Court is a division of Justice Court. Cases are filed in the Justice Court where the defendant lives or the rental property is located. However, if the defendant lives outside of Arizona, or their address is unknown, the case can be filed where the plaintiff lives.

To determine the correct Justice Court, you can use the court locator.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Arizona

File a Small Claims Casein person by bringing 3 copies of each of the following documents (plus one extra copy for each defendant) to the appropriate court:

The filing fee is due at the time of filing.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Arizona?

In Arizona, the filing fee for a small claims case is $25.

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing an Application for Deferral or Waiver of Court Fees.

Small Claims Court Process in Arizona

After filing a small claims case in Arizona, the appropriate documents are served on the defendantand the defendant files an answer or counterclaim before the case is scheduled for a hearing.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. Within 45 days after filing a small claims case, you must complete service on the defendant and file a proof or affidavit of service form.

The following documents must be served on the defendant:

Service on the defendant can be completed by:

  • Certified or registered mail
  • Certified restricted mail by the clerk
  • Registered private process server
  • Constable or sheriff

Once service has been completed, one of the following must be filed in the court:

  • Proof of Service – If completed by certified or registered mail
  • Affidavit of Service – If completed by other methods

Step 2: Defendant files an Answer or Counterclaim. Within 20 days of accepting service, the defendant must file an Answer or Counterclaim and mail a copy to the plaintiff. Once the defendant’s response has been filed, the clerk of the court will schedule a hearing date within 60 days. If the defendant fails to file a response, the plaintiff must file an Application for Entry of Default.


If a deadline in Small Claims Court falls on a weekend or holiday, the due date is the next business day.

Step 3: Attend the hearing. On the hearing date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The justice of the peace or hearing officer will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before they decide to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the hearing,you may be issued a default judgment.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Arizona

If you win the judgment in Arizona, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt. Decisions in Arizona Small Claims Court cannot be appealed.

Judgments are due as soon as they are issued. If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, you can recover the debt through bank or wage garnishment or property lien through a Writ of Garnishment or Writ of Execution.

You have 10 years to collect or renew a judgment before it expires.