Landlords in California have a right to evict their tenants for violating the terms of the lease agreement. For example, failing to pay rent or causing damage exceeding normal wear and tear.
California, just like other states, has a detailed tenant eviction process. Landlords must abide by it to the letter for the process to be successful. Engaging in “self-help” means such as shutting off previously available utilities or removing your tenant’s things is illegal.
Prior to evicting a tenant, you must terminate the tenancy. This means giving the tenant a written notice, as California eviction law specifies. If the tenant doesn’t move out or cure the violation you can go ahead and file an unlawful detainer suit.
California eviction law gives specific requirements for ending a tenancy. There are various types of eviction notices as well as procedures that you must follow for different situations.
The following is a basic overview of the tenant eviction process in California.
This is the first step to evicting your California tenant. The reason for the eviction will determine which eviction notice to give your tenant.
The following are the various types of eviction notices:
3-Days’ Notice to Pay Rent
You can evict your California tenant due to nonpayment of rent. The notice tells the tenant that they have 3 days to either pay rent or leave their rented premises. If the tenant does neither within the 3 days, you can move to court and file an eviction lawsuit.
3-Days’ Notice to Cure
You can also evict a tenant for violating the terms of the lease agreement. Typical lease violations under this category include exceeding the rental limit, subletting without permission, and keeping an unauthorized pet.
The notice informs the tenant that they have 3 days to correct the violation or else get evicted. If the tenant doesn’t correct the violation within 3 days, you can move to court for further help.
3-Days’ Unconditional Quit Notice
You should reserve this notice for serious lease violations. In California, you can only use this notice in the following situations:
- Your tenant is involved in illegal activity while on the rental premises.
- Your tenant repeatedly causing a nuisance at the rental unit.
- The tenant causing excessive property damage.
- Your tenant assigning or subletting the rental unit in violation of the lease or rental agreement.
30/60-Days’ Quit Notice for Holdover Tenants
You may also be able to evict a tenant who refuses to leave after their lease has ended. How much notice you give, however, depends on the length of the type of lease. For leases that are less than a year, you must give them a 30-Days’ Notice to Quit. For leases that are at least one year, you must give them a 60-Days’ Notice to Quit.
Complaint & Summons
If the tenant doesn’t move out after the notice period, you can move to court and file a complaint in the appropriate court. Once you’ve filed the complaint, you’ll have 60 days to have your tenant served with the summons and complaint. If you don’t, you risk having the court dismiss the eviction complaint.
Once your tenant has received the summons and complaint, they may choose whether to respond or not. If they don’t respond, then the court may issue a default judgment in your favor.
But if the tenant chooses to answer, then you’ll need to prepare for a court hearing. Some of the defenses your tenant may use to justify fighting the eviction include:
- You evicted the tenant improperly. When it comes to evicting a tenant, you must carefully follow the rules as set out in California’s eviction laws. If you don’t, you risk having the eviction getting invalidated.
- You failed to maintain the rental unit to habitable standards. As a landlord in California, you must maintain your rental unit in accordance with the state and local safety, health, and building codes.
- The eviction is based on discrimination. According to the Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal for a landlord to discriminate against their tenant on the basis of a protected class. Some of the classes include gender, religion, race, disability, familial status, and national origin.
- You used “self-help” eviction tactics. Only a court of law can rule on whether or not a tenant should be evicted. And even then, only a sheriff can carry out the physical eviction. As a landlord, it’s illegal to change locks or shutting off utilities.
Court Hearing & Judgment
Once you have filed the hearing request, the hearing will be held within 20 days. You or your tenant, however, can request an extension.
If the judge rules in your favor, you’ll need to request a writ of execution. This acts as the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit. It gives the tenant an opportunity to remove their belongings before being forcefully evicted by the sheriff. The writ of execution gives a notice ranging from a few hours to a few days.
Your tenant can file an appeal, however, in California, that won’t stop the eviction. The only way a tenant can stop the eviction is by requesting a stay of execution once they have been served with the writ of execution.
As a landlord, you have the right to evict tenants when they violate the terms of their lease agreement. However, it’s important that you always follow legal California’s eviction process. You should also familiarize yourself with other rental laws such as security deposit law, squatter’s rights, and landlord-tenant laws.
If you would like help managing your rental properties contact the experts at Home Choice Property Management today!
Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for expert legal advice. If you require professional legal advice, kindly get in touch with a qualified attorney or a trusted property management company.