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How to properly evict someone: A Self Help Guide to the California Courts

How to Properly Evict Someone

How to Properly Evict a Tenant in California: A Landlord’s Guide to the Eviction Process

Navigating the Eviction Process: How to Properly Evict Someone in California in 2024. Are you a landlord in California struggling with a problematic tenant? Evicting a tenant can be a complex and stressful process, but understanding the proper steps is crucial to protecting your rights and your property. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the eviction process, from serving the initial notice to navigating the legal system. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to handle any eviction situation that comes your way.

How to Properly Evict Someone

Eviction 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Landlords in California

In California, the only legal way to evict a tenant is to file a lawsuit and wait for the court to order the sheriff or marshal to carry out the eviction. Landlords cannot change the locks, shut off power, or remove personal property in order to force a tenant out of their home. 

Here are some steps in the eviction process:
  ✨ Notice
The landlord must give the tenant a Notice to Quit before evicting them. This notice must tell the tenant why the landlord wants to evict them and what they can do to avoid eviction. The precise timing and form of the notice vary by jurisdiction.
  ✨ Court hearing
The landlord must go to court and give evidence to the judge. The new owner will not automatically win the case.
  ✨ Judgment
The final step in the eviction process is the removal of the tenant and their belongings from the property. 

Landlords can evict someone for lease violations. Some violations will require just a warning. However, when you continue to violate your lease, the landlord or the property manager will have no choice than to issue you with an eviction notice.

The eviction process for landlords
  ✨ Give notice. You have to give your tenant a written Notice before you start an eviction court case. 
  ✨ Start a court case. 
  ✨ Ask for trial date or default judgment. 
  ✨ Go to trial. 

 

What is the Eviction Process in California?

The eviction process in California is a legal procedure that allows landlords to remove tenants who have violated the terms of their lease agreement or failed to pay rent. The process typically involves serving the tenant with a notice, filing an eviction lawsuit, and obtaining a court order for the tenant to vacate the property.

What are the Most Common Reasons for Eviction in California?

Landlords in California can evict tenants for a variety of reasons, including:

Nonpayment of Rent

If a tenant fails to pay their rent on time, the landlord must serve them with a 3-day notice to pay or quit. If the tenant does not pay the outstanding rent within those three days, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

Lease Violations

If a tenant violates the terms of their lease agreement, such as by having unauthorized pets or causing excessive noise, the landlord must serve them with a 3-day notice to cure or quit. If the tenant does not fix the problem within those three days, the landlord can proceed with the eviction process.

Illegal Activities

If a tenant engages in illegal activities on the rental property, such as drug dealing or prostitution, the landlord can serve them with a 3-day notice to quit without the opportunity to cure the problem.

How to Properly Evict Someone

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How Do I Serve an Eviction Notice in California?

To begin the eviction process, landlords must serve tenants with a written notice. The type of notice depends on the reason for the eviction, but all notices must be properly served, according to California law. Landlords can serve the notice in one of three ways:

Personal Service

The landlord or a process server can personally hand the notice to the tenant.

Substituted Service

If the tenant is not home, the landlord can leave the notice with a responsible person at the tenant’s residence or workplace and mail a copy to the tenant.

Posting and Mailing

If the landlord cannot locate the tenant, they can post the notice on the rental property in a conspicuous place and mail a copy to the tenant.

What Happens if the Tenant Doesn’t Move Out After Receiving an Eviction Notice?

If the tenant fails to comply with the eviction notice, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit with the local court. This legal action seeks to remove the tenant from the property and may also seek to recover unpaid rent and damages.

Filing the Eviction Lawsuit

To file an eviction lawsuit, landlords must complete a summons and complaint and file them with the court. The tenant must then be served with these documents, either in person or by mail.

The Court Hearing

If the tenant files an answer to the complaint, the court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, both the landlord and tenant will have the opportunity to present their case and any evidence.

The Eviction Order

If the court rules in favor of the landlord, it will issue an eviction order, also known as a writ of possession. This order gives the tenant a set amount of time, typically 5 days, to vacate the property.

How Long Does the Eviction Process Take in California?

The length of the eviction process in California depends on several factors, including the reason for the eviction, whether the tenant contests the eviction, and the court’s schedule. On average, an uncontested eviction can take around 4-6 weeks from start to finish.

Can I Change the Locks or Remove the Tenant’s Belongings?

No, landlords cannot take matters into their own hands by changing the locks or removing the tenant’s belongings. This is known as a “self-help” eviction and is illegal in California. Landlords must follow the proper legal process to evict a tenant.

What if the Tenant Leaves Behind Personal Property?

If a tenant leaves behind personal property after an eviction, the landlord must follow specific procedures for dealing with those items. In most cases, the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant and store the property for a certain period before disposing of it.

How Much Does It Cost to Evict a Tenant in California?

The cost of evicting a tenant in California varies depending on the circumstances, but landlords can expect to pay several hundred dollars in court filing fees and process server costs. If the case is contested or the tenant appeals, legal fees can quickly add up.

Where Can I Find More Information and Legal Help?

Evicting a tenant in California can be a complex and time-consuming process, but landlords don’t have to navigate it alone. The California Courts website offers a wealth of information and self-help guides for landlords, and many local legal aid organizations provide low-cost or free assistance to landlords in need.

How to Properly Evict Someone

Landlord’s Guide to the Proper Eviction Process in California

  • Landlords must have a legally valid reason to evict a tenant in California.
  • Proper notice must be served according to state law before filing an eviction lawsuit.
  • “Self-help” evictions, such as changing locks or removing tenant belongings, are illegal.
  • The eviction process can take several weeks and cost hundreds of dollars in fees.
  • Landlords can find information and legal help through the California Courts website and local legal aid organizations.

By understanding the proper eviction process and following state law, California landlords can protect their rights and their property while minimizing legal risks and expenses.

 

How to Properly Evict Someone

The Right Way to Evict a Tenant in California: A Landlord’s Guide to the Eviction Process

Are you a landlord in California who needs to evict a tenant from your rental property? Navigating the eviction process can be complex and stressful, but understanding your rights and following the proper legal steps is crucial for a successful outcome. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to properly evict a tenant in California, from serving the initial notice to regaining possession of your property. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and tools to confidently handle an eviction case and protect your interests as a landlord.

What Are the Legal Grounds for Evicting a Tenant in California?

Before starting the eviction process, it’s important to understand the valid reasons a landlord can evict a tenant under California law. The most common grounds include:

  • Nonpayment of rent: If a tenant fails to pay their rent on time, you can serve them with a 3-day notice to pay or quit. If they don’t pay the full amount owed within those 3 days, you can proceed with the eviction.
  • Violation of the lease agreement: If a tenant breaches a term of the rental agreement, such as having unauthorized pets or subtenants, you can give them a 3-day notice to cure the violation or vacate the property. If they don’t fix the problem, you can move forward with the eviction.
  • Illegal activity: If a tenant is engaged in illegal activities on the property, like drug dealing or prostitution, you can serve them with a 3-day unconditional quit notice and immediately begin the eviction process.

It’s crucial to have clear documentation of the reason for the eviction and to carefully follow the notice requirements for each grounds. Consulting with a landlord-tenant attorney can help ensure you’re proceeding legally.

How Do You Properly Serve an Eviction Notice to a Tenant?

Serving the initial eviction notice is a critical step in the process. If it’s not done correctly, your case could be dismissed in court. Here are some tips for properly serving a notice:

  • Use the correct form for the notice reason and time frame (3-day, 30-day, or 60-day notice)
  • Include the full names of all tenants on the lease
  • Specify the reason for the eviction and any actions the tenant can take to remedy the situation
  • State the date by which the tenant must comply or vacate
  • Personally serve the tenant, sub-serve an adult at the property, post and mail the notice, or hire a process server

Be sure to keep copies of the signed and dated notices as well as proof of service, like a mailing receipt or server’s declaration. This documentation will be important if you need to prove proper service in court.

What Happens if a Tenant Doesn’t Move Out After Getting an Eviction Notice?

If a tenant doesn’t vacate the property or fix the lease violation after being served with a valid eviction notice, the landlord must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit to legally remove them. This involves:

  1. Filing a complaint and summons with the court and paying the filing fee
  2. Serving the tenant with copies of the court papers
  3. Waiting for the tenant’s response and attending the court hearing
  4. Obtaining a judgment for possession from the court
  5. Having the sheriff serve a 5-day notice to vacate and physically lock out the tenant

The timeline for an unlawful detainer case can vary depending on the court’s schedule and whether the tenant fights the eviction. In some cases, tenants may even file motions or bankruptcy to delay the process. Having an experienced eviction attorney on your side can help expedite matters.

Can You Evict a Tenant Without Going to Court in California?

In short, no. California law prohibits landlords from engaging in “self-help” evictions, such as changing the locks, shutting off utilities, or removing the tenant’s belongings. Taking matters into your own hands can open you up to legal liability and even criminal charges.

The only lawful way to evict a tenant is by going through the court eviction process, obtaining a judgment for possession, and having the sheriff physically remove the tenant. Anything else could be considered an illegal “retaliatory eviction.”

While it may be frustrating to deal with a problem tenant, resist the urge to take shortcuts. Stick to the proper legal channels to protect yourself and your rental business.

 

The Eviction Process Explained: What Landlords Need to Know in CA

1. What is an eviction?

An eviction is the legal process through which a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property. It is typically initiated when a tenant breaches the terms of the lease agreement, such as nonpayment of rent or violating the rental agreement.

2. What steps are involved in the eviction process in California?

The eviction process in California generally involves serving the tenant with an eviction notice, filing an eviction case with the court, and obtaining a detainer. The process may vary depending on the specific circumstances.

3. When can a landlord evict a tenant in California?

A landlord in California can typically evict a tenant for reasons such as nonpayment of rent, violating the rental agreement, or causing damage to the property. However, the landlord must follow the legal procedures and provide the tenant with proper notice to vacate.

4. How does a landlord start the eviction process?

To evict a tenant in California, the landlord must first provide the tenant with a written notice to vacate stating the reasons for the eviction. If the tenant fails to comply, the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit with the court.

5. What are the legal obligations of a landlord in an eviction case?

Here are some of the key legal obligations landlords have when evicting a tenant in California:

Providing Proper Notice

One of the most important landlord responsibilities is to serve the tenant with proper written notice before starting an eviction lawsuit. The type of notice required depends on the reason for the eviction:

  • 3-day notice to pay rent or quit for nonpayment of rent
  • 3-day notice to perform covenant or quit for lease violations
  • 3-day unconditional quit notice for illegal activity or serious nuisance
  • 30-day or 60-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy without cause

The notice must be properly filled out and served on the tenant according to strict rules. Failing to include the required information or improper service could get the eviction case dismissed.

Following Rent Control and Eviction Protection Laws

Many cities in California have local rent control and “just cause” eviction ordinances that limit the reasons a landlord can evict and require relocation assistance payments to the tenant. For example, under AB 1482, the state’s new rent cap and just cause eviction law, landlords can only terminate certain tenancies for one of the specified “at fault” or “no fault” reasons.

Before moving forward with an eviction, landlords must carefully review any applicable regulations and make sure they are in full compliance. Violations can lead to costly tenant lawsuits.

Avoiding Retaliatory or Discriminatory Evictions

It’s illegal for landlords to evict a tenant in retaliation for exercising their legal rights, such as complaining about unsafe living conditions or forming a tenant union. Landlords also cannot evict tenants based on their race, religion, gender, family status, disability, or other protected characteristics.

Doing so can lead to fair housing complaints and discrimination lawsuits. Landlords must have a well-documented, non-retaliatory reason for the eviction and apply policies consistently.

Going Through the Proper Court Process

In California, the only way to legally evict a tenant is by winning an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Landlords cannot engage in any “self-help” evictions like changing locks, shutting off utilities, or removing the tenant’s belongings. These actions can subject the landlord to stiff civil penalties and even criminal charges.

Once the tenant is served with a summons and complaint, the landlord must wait for them to file a response and then prove their case in court. If the landlord wins, they must have the sheriff serve a lockout notice and perform the actual eviction.

Handling Security Deposits and Abandoned Property

After regaining possession of the property, the landlord must send the tenant a written statement of deductions from their security deposit and any remaining refund within 21 days. If the tenant leaves behind personal possessions, the landlord must give them at least 15 days’ written notice before disposing of the items. If the property is worth more than $700, the landlord must store it for 30 days.

Failing to follow these rules can result in the landlord owing the tenant statutory damages and forfeiting the right to keep any portion of the deposit.

By understanding and fulfilling these key legal obligations, landlords can avoid problems and successfully navigate the eviction process in California. Consulting with a landlord-tenant attorney is always recommended to ensure compliance with state and local laws.

How Much Does it Cost to Evict Someone in California?

The cost of evicting a tenant in California can vary widely depending on factors like:

  • Location and court filing fees
  • Whether the tenant contests the eviction
  • How long the case takes to resolve
  • Whether you hire an eviction attorney

In general, expect to spend at least $1,000-3,000 on an uncontested eviction, including:

  • 3-day notice service fees: $50-75
  • Court filing fee: $240
  • Process server for complaint: $75-150
  • Attorney fees: $500-1500
  • Sheriff lockout fee: $145

If the case is contested and goes to trial, legal fees and court costs can easily climb into the tens of thousands. There are also additional expenses like unpaid rent, property damage, re-renting costs.

While it may be tempting to cut costs by handling things yourself, eviction mistakes can end up costing more in the long run. Consulting with a landlord-tenant lawyer is a worthwhile investment.

How Long Does the Eviction Process Typically Take in California?

The length of time to evict a tenant in California depends on how the case unfolds, but in general, expect it to take anywhere from 1-3 months. Here’s a rough timeline:

  • Serving initial notice: 3-60 days
  • Filing unlawful detainer complaint: 1 week
  • Serving tenant and waiting for response: 1-2 weeks
  • Getting a trial date: 1-4 weeks
  • Court makes a decision: 1 day – 2 weeks
  • Waiting period for appeals: 10 days
  • Sheriff posts 5-day lockout notice: 1 week
  • Physical eviction and possession of property: 1 day

Of course, this is assuming everything goes smoothly. If the tenant files motions, claims Covid-19 hardship, or declares bankruptcy, it could add weeks or months to the process. Having all your documentation in order and getting legal guidance can help avoid delays.

Key Things for Landlords to Remember When Evicting a Tenant

Here are the most important takeaways for properly evicting a tenant in California:

  • Have a legally valid reason to evict based on nonpayment of rent, lease violations, nuisance, or illegal activity
  • Carefully review your local rent control and just cause eviction ordinances
  • Serve the correct type of written notice and keep proof of service
  • Don’t engage in any self-help eviction tactics
  • File an unlawful detainer case with the court if the tenant doesn’t comply with the notice
  • Prepare to spend anywhere from $1,000-10,000 on the eviction process
  • Expect the eviction to take at least 1-3 months from start to finish
  • Consider hiring an eviction attorney to handle the case and protect your interests

By following these guidelines and educating yourself on California eviction laws, you’ll be well-equipped to deal with problem tenants and regain control of your rental property.