The tenant eviction process in California concerning rental property can often be challenging. An eviction lawsuit can be a nightmare and cost time and money. However, there are ways in which the eviction process can be fast, and you can evict tenants under California landlord-tenant laws.
The eviction process can be known as an Unlawful Detainer; this process allows you to get an order from the Court for your tenant to move out of the rental property if they did not pay rent on time or stopped paying rent, caused damages, committed waste, or was a public nuisance.
A landlord may not legally evict a tenant based on sex, race, religion, retaliation, or disabilities because the tenant receives public assistance or simply because you want to or don’t like them.
A landlord has a duty to the tenant to provide a legal eviction notice with the stipulations within the California Code. Failing to provide the tenant with proper notice will cause the dismissal of your case.
First, you must tell them in writing the legal reason why you want them to move out; by doing so, you are giving an eviction notice. A minimum 3-day Notice to comply must be issued to abate the public nuisance or illegal acts, such as violence, prostitution, harassment, and drug use.
If the tenant fails to comply with your 3-day Notice you may now begin your legal process of filing an Unlawful Detainer complaint.
Eviction Process for Illegal Activity and Nuisance
A landlord may legally evict a tenant in California if they conduct any unlawful business activity, criminal threats, or nuisances or if the tenant has frequently loud parties.
A tenant can be served with an eviction notice when the tenant has performed illegal acts on the premises. A 3-day Notice will give the tenant the opportunity to fix the breach. If they do not then the eviction process can begin.
Eviction Process for owed Unpaid Rent
In California, rent is late on the day that it is due. If you have a non-paying tenant and fail to collect rent from the tenant, you can legally evict the tenant from your rental property.
It may be prudent to seek legal advice to hire a landlord-tenant attorney when the tenant fails to pay rent on time.
Should I Hire a Property Manager?
If you have a tenant who is refusing to move out of your property, you will need to go through the eviction process.
The first step is to send the tenant a written notice to vacate the property. The notice should include the date by which the tenant must vacate the property, and it should be sent by certified mail.
If the tenant does not move out by the date in the notice, you can file an eviction lawsuit against them.
3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit Notice
If the tenant owes you rent but is still living in your property, you can send them a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit.
The notice must include the amount of back rent that is owed and must be either personally delivered to the tenant, personally delivered to someone in the household of suitable age and discretion, or posted in a conspicuous position on the premises that is most likely to be noticed by the tenant AND thereafter mailed to the tenant.
The tenant then has three business days to either pay the past-due rent or vacate the premises. If they do not comply with this notice, you can file an eviction lawsuit against them in court.
What is a lease agreement?
A lease is a contract between two a tenant and a landlord that gives a tenant the right to live in a property for a fixed period of time. A contract between the tenant and landlord binds the parties to the lease. By California law, residential leases are tenant contracts that define in clear thorough terms the expectations between landlord and tenant, including rent, rules regarding pets, and duration of agreement.
Property, buildings, and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industrial or business equipment is also leased. Some common elements of a lease agreement include; the names of the parties of the agreement, the starting date and duration of the agreement, identifies the specific object (by street address, VIN, make/model, serial number) being leased.
The agreement also provides conditions for renewal or non-renewal. It has a specific consideration (a lump sum, or periodic payments) for granting the use of the object. The agreement has provisions for a security deposit and terms for its return. It may have a specific list of conditions which are therein described as Default Conditions and specific remedies.
A rental agreement is somewhat different. The eviction proceedings and state landlord-tenant laws are both part of the lease or rental agreement. A lease is a great option for landlords to make a stable income, but may negatively impact profitability should property value grow within that year’s span.
How do you handle an eviction notice?
When the tenant violates the lease agreement the landlord has grounds of evicting a tenant. The rental income can change if the tenant has either missed payments or refused to pay rent on time. This also can include overdue rent, late fees, lease violations, and legal fees. The landlord can issue a written eviction notice to the tenant for failure to pay rent.
Most jurisdictions do not permit the landlord to evict a tenant without first taking legal action to do so. This is also referred to as “self-help,” (actions that include changing locks, removing items from the premises, or terminating utility services). If the tenant refuses to pay rent owed or has past due rent, the landlord has legal grounds to begin the eviction process. Applicable jurisdiction means the jurisdiction or jurisdictions under which the borrower is organized, domiciled, or resident or from which any of its business activities are conducted are in which any of its properties are located and which has jurisdiction over the subject matter being addressed.
This process starts with the landlord serving you with a written eviction notice to vacate the premises, it can take 30-45 days, or longer, for the eviction case to end. However, if you lose the case, the judge can order you to move out of the rental unit.
What are the California eviction laws?
Tenants cannot be evicted unlawfully in the state of California. However, a landlord has the right to evict a tenant after failing to pay rent on time. In California’s housing law, the rent is considered late after its due date. The landlord can evict a tenant if they are a bad tenant, participate in illegal activity on the premises, owe unpaid rent, or have frequent loud parties on the rental property after hours.
Step one: The landlord gives the tenant a written notice to pay or quit
If the tenant fails to comply with the notice by due date, the landlord can give the tenant a written notice to pay rent or quit. The deadlines can be very short, like 3 days, or months.
Step two: The landlord starts an eviction case in court
If the tenant refuses to comply with the notice by the deadline, the landlord can file an eviction case (called an unlawful detainer). The landlord must have a copy of the court papers delivered (served) to the tenant.
Step three: The tenant has a few days to file a response in court
If the tenant doesn’t respond to the notice by the deadline, the landlord can file papers asking a judge to decide the case without their input. If the tenant does respond, either side can ask for a trial where a judge or jury will decide.
Step four: The judge makes a decision.
If the landlord wins, they can ask the judge for papers that tell the sheriff to evict the tenant(s). The sheriff will post a notice to vacate and the tenant has time to move out.
The tenant eviction process is only legal if the landlord has filed an unlawful detainer. If the tenant does not comply with what the landlord is asking in the notice, the landlord can begin the court process by filing a summons and complaint and having someone (give a copy to) the tenant. The tenant has five business days to file an answer or responsive motion. However, if the tenant does nothing, the landlord can go to court and obtain a default judgment against them. After the default judgment
What is an unlawful detainer?
The unlawful detainer begins when the landlord gives a notice of termination to the tenant. It is a summary court procedure. This means that the court action moves forward very quickly and that the time given the tenant to respond during the lawsuit is very short. Generally, the tenant only has five days to file a written response to the lawsuit after being served a copy of the landlord’s complaint.
The judge will hear and decide the unlawful detainer case within twenty days after the tenant files an answer. In a California unlawful detainer lawsuit, the landlord is called the “plaintiff” and the tenant is called the “defendant.” The court-administered eviction process assures the tenant of the right to a court hearing if the tenant believes that the landlord has no right to evict the tenant. The landlord must use the court process to evict the tenant.
Landlords can and can not do
The landlord cannot use self-help measures to force the tenant to move or make threats of illegal evictions. This means, the landlord cannot physically remove or lock out the tenant, cut off utilities such as water or electricity, remove outside windows or doors, or seize (take) the tenant’s belongings in order to carry out the eviction. The landlord must use the statutory court procedures. If a landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, the landlord may be subject to civil or criminal liability for the tenant’s damages, as well as penalties of up to $200 per day for the time that the landlord used the unlawful methods.
The court holds a hearing for the unlawful detainer lawsuit trial. During this trial, the parties can present their evidence and explain their case. If the court finds that the tenant has a good defense, the court will not evict the tenant. If the court decides in favor of the tenant, the tenant will not have to move, and the landlord may be offered to pay the court costs (tenant’s filing fees). The landlord may also have to pay the tenant’s attorney fees if the rental agreement contains an attorney’s fees clause and if an attorney represents the tenant.
If the court decides in favor, the court will issue a judgment and a writ 0f possession. The writ of possession orders the sheriff to remove the tenant from the rental unit but gives the tenant five days from the date that the writ is served to leave voluntarily.