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Facing Eviction in California?
Know Your Tenant Rights and Find an Experienced Lawyer for Tenant Eviction

Facing eviction? Our experienced Lawyer for Tenant Eviction can help tenants defend their rights against landlords.
Don’t go it alone.

Are you a tenant in California facing the threat of eviction? You’re not alone.
Every year, thousands of renters find themselves in the stressful situation of being served an eviction notice by their landlord. But don’t despair – as a tenant in California, you have rights, and there are experienced eviction lawyers who can help you navigate this challenging process.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about wrongful evictions, the eviction process, tenant rights, and how to find the legal representation and free legal aid you need to protect yourself.

What is Considered an Illegal or Wrongful Eviction in California?

Not all evictions are legal. In California, there are strict rules landlords must follow when attempting to evict a tenant. Examples of illegal “self-help” evictions include:

  • Changing the locks or padlocking the doors to force the tenant out
  • Shutting off utilities like water, gas, or electricity
  • Removing the tenant’s personal property
  • Harassing or threatening the tenant to get them to move
  • Evicting a tenant in retaliation for exercising their legal rights, like requesting repairs

If your landlord has engaged in any of these illegal actions, you may be the victim of a wrongful eviction. An experienced tenant lawyer can help you fight back and protect your rights.

What are the Legal Grounds for Eviction in California?

A landlord cannot simply evict a tenant on a whim. In California, a landlord must have a valid legal reason, or “just cause,” to evict a tenant. Some of the most common grounds for eviction include:

  1. Non-payment of rent: If a tenant fails to pay their rent, the landlord can issue a 3-day notice to pay or quit. If the tenant doesn’t pay within those 3 days, the landlord can then file an unlawful detainee action.
  2. Violation of the lease agreement: If a tenant breaks the rules outlined in their lease or rental agreement, like having an unauthorized pet or subletting without permission, the landlord can issue a notice to perform covenants or quit.
  3. Illegal activity: If a tenant is engaging in illegal activities on the property, like selling drugs, the landlord can evict them with a 3-day notice.
  4. Substantial damage to the property: If a tenant causes significant damage beyond normal wear and tear, the landlord may have grounds for eviction.
  5. Owner move-in or withdrawal from rental market: In some cases, a landlord can evict a tenant if they plan to move into the unit themselves, or if they are removing the property from the rental market entirely. Specific rules apply in these situations.

It’s important to note that in rent-controlled cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, landlords must have a “just cause” to evict, even if the tenant is month-to-month. If you feel your landlord lacks proper grounds for eviction, contact a tenant rights attorney right away.

What Happens After a 3-Day Eviction Notice in California?

If you’ve been served a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit, it’s crucial that you take action immediately to avoid losing your housing. Here are the steps in the eviction process after a 3-day notice:

  1. The tenant has 3 days to either pay the rent in full, remedy the lease violation, or move out. Weekends and court holidays don’t count toward the 3 days.
  2. If the tenant doesn’t comply within 3 days, the landlord can then file an unlawful detainer lawsuit seeking to evict the tenant. The landlord must properly serve the tenant with a copy of the summons and complaint.
  3. The tenant has 5 days to file a written response with the court after being served. If the tenant doesn’t respond, the landlord can seek a default judgement against them.
  4. If the tenant files an answer, the case will proceed to trial, usually within 20 days. Both sides can present their evidence and arguments.
  5. If the landlord wins, the court will issue a writ of possession. The sheriff can then post a 5-day notice to vacate the tenant’s door.
  6. If the tenant doesn’t leave after those 5 days, the sheriff can return and physically lock the tenant out.

The eviction process moves very quickly in California, so don’t delay in seeking legal help. Many legal aid organizations provide low-cost assistance to low-income tenants facing eviction.

What Are a Tenant’s Rights in an Eviction in California?

California has some of the strongest tenant protection laws in the country. As a renter facing eviction, you have many important rights, including:

  • Right to proper notice: Your landlord must serve you proper written notice and give you time to comply before filing an eviction lawsuit. A notice lacking key information or served improperly may be invalid.
  • Right to habitable housing: Landlords are legally required to maintain habitable rentals in California. If your landlord refuses to make important repairs, you have options short of withholding rent, like making repairs yourself and deducting the cost.
  • Right to fight the eviction in court: You have the right to file an answer to the eviction lawsuit and present your defenses in court. The landlord must prove its case. Even if you owe rent, the eviction may be invalid if the landlord didn’t follow proper procedures.
  • Right against retaliatory or discriminatory evictions: It’s illegal for a landlord to evict you in retaliation for things like requesting repairs, complaining to authorities about code violations, or organizing tenants. It’s also illegal for a landlord to evict you based on your race, gender, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics.
  • Right to request a jury trial: In California, tenants have a right to request a jury trial in eviction cases instead of a “bench trial,” where the judge alone decides the case. There may be strategic advantages to a jury trial in some situations.

An experienced California eviction lawyer can assess your case and advise you of your rights and options. Don’t assume you have no defense just because you received an eviction notice. Exercise your rights.

 

Should I Hire an Eviction Attorney or Use a Legal Aid Service?

Facing an eviction can be overwhelming, and the process moves quickly, so having professional legal help on your side is crucial. But many tenants worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer.

If you are low-income, you may qualify for free legal services through a legal aid organization in your area. Many nonprofits provide high-quality eviction defense and other legal services to low-income tenants. Don’t be afraid to reach out – that’s what they’re there for.

If you don’t qualify for free help, hiring an experienced eviction attorney may be a smart financial decision in the long run. An attorney can identify defenses, help you file an answer, compile evidence, negotiate with the landlord, and represent you in court. Many eviction lawyers offer consultations and reasonable payment plans. Some may agree to a “contingency fee” where you only pay if you win money damages against your landlord.

When looking for a tenant lawyer, try to find one who specializes in landlord-tenant law and eviction defense. Check their online reviews, ask about their experience level, and make sure they’re familiar with tenant rights in your city. A good fit is an attorney you feel comfortable communicating with and trust to fight for your rights.

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Can I Avoid Eviction by Catching Up on Rent?

In some cases, yes. If your landlord served you a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit, you can “cure” the violation by paying all the rent owed within those 3 days. If you do so, the landlord can’t proceed with the eviction.

However, if you are chronically late on rent, your landlord may decide to serve you a 30-day or 60-day notice to terminate your tenancy, even if you catch up. These notices don’t provide an opportunity to fix the issue – the landlord simply wants you to move out.

If you are struggling to afford rent, you may have options. Many cities and states rolled out rental assistance programs during the COVID-19 pandemic that are still active. These programs can provide funds to cover back and future rent. Your local housing department or a legal aid organization can provide information on rental assistance in your area.

You could also try explaining your situation to your landlord and requesting a payment plan to catch up over time. Some landlords would rather get paid slowly than deal with a costly and time-consuming eviction. Just be sure to get any agreement in writing.

Key Points to Remember About Tenant Eviction in California

  • Landlords must have a valid, legal reason to evict a tenant. They can’t engage in “self-help” evictions like changing locks or shutting off utilities.
  • Tenants have the right to proper notice before an eviction lawsuit is filed. A 3-day notice is common for non-payment of rent and lease violations that can be remedied.
  • Tenants have the right to fight the eviction by filing a written response within 5 days of being served an unlawful detainer lawsuit. There may be defenses available.
  • It’s illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in retaliation for exercising legal rights or based on the tenant’s race, gender, religion, disability, or other protected status.
  • Low-income tenants may qualify for free legal help from a legal aid organization. Others can benefit greatly from hiring an experienced eviction lawyer.
  • Tenants served a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit can avoid eviction by paying in full within 3 days. Rental assistance programs may help those struggling to pay.

The eviction process is stressful, but you don’t have to face it alone. Educate yourself on your rights, seek out legal help, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. With the right resources and representation, you may be able to avoid eviction and stay in your home.

What are the legal rights of a tenant during eviction?

Both landlords and tenants must be aware of a number of crucial aspects relating to a tenant’s legal rights during an eviction. In a landlord-tenant relationship, eviction law dictates that a residential tenant must be provided with a notice to quit prior to filing a complaint for eviction. If the tenant didn’t pay rent, the landlord can start the eviction process, which may involve sheriff’s enforcement.

In cases of unlawful detainers, the tenant has the right to seek legal assistance from a law office or lawyer directory to defend themselves in detainer actions. It is important for tenants to know their rights and seek legal counsel if facing an eviction action.

In the event of an eviction, the security deposit should be returned to the tenant in accordance with landlord-tenant laws. If the landlord files a motion to suit for eviction, the tenant has the right to appear in court and present their case. In both commercial evictions and residential evictions, the tenant is entitled to legal advice and representation to ensure their rights are protected. All parties involved should discuss and agree upon the legal fees before resolving any disputes regarding unpaid rent or eviction in accordance with tenant law.

Tenant Facing Landlord Eviction? Get Legal Assistance from an Eviction Lawyer

If you find yourself, as a residential tenant, facing an eviction action from your landlord, it is crucial to seek legal assistance from an eviction lawyer immediately. Under eviction law, a landlord can only evict a tenant under specific circumstances, such as not paying rent or violating the terms of the lease agreement. Before filing a complaint for eviction, the landlord must provide a notice to quit to the tenant, giving them a chance to rectify the situation. If the tenant didn’t pay rent, the landlord can file a suit for eviction in court. However, the tenant must be provided legal advice and the opportunity to appear in court with legal counsel.

It is important for both the landlord and tenant to understand their rights and obligations under landlord-tenant law. Prior to occupying the rental property, the tenant must provide a security deposit, which the landlord must return upon termination of the lease, less any damages or unpaid rent. In cases of unpaid rent, the landlord can file a motion for a judgment of possession, which can result in the sheriff’s eviction of the tenant. A law office specializing in landlord and tenant law can provide legal assistance for both residential and commercial evictions, as well as unlawful detainers.

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Tenant Eviction Proceedings: How an Eviction Lawyer Can Safeguard Your Interests

When faced with eviction, tenants often feel overwhelmed and unsure of their rights. However, enlisting the help of an experienced eviction lawyer can make a significant difference in protecting your interests. Here’s how:

  • Assessing the validity of the eviction notice
  • Identifying potential defenses and counterclaims
  • Ensuring proper service of legal documents
  • Filing a timely and accurate response to the eviction lawsuit
  • Gathering evidence to support your case
  • Negotiating with the landlord for a favorable settlement
  • Representing you in court hearings and trials
  • Advising on your rights and obligations under the law
  • Helping you avoid a judgment on your record
  • Protecting you from illegal landlord actions like lockouts or utility shut-offs
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FAQs about Tenant Eviction Defense

1. Why is it important to hire an experienced eviction lawyer for tenant eviction defense?

When facing potential eviction, having an experienced eviction attorney can greatly increase your chances of a successful outcome. The landlord may have legal representation, so it’s crucial to have someone knowledgeable in eviction law on your side to protect your tenant’s rights and provide you with the necessary legal advice.

2. What are the benefits of seeking legal aid when dealing with an eviction?

Seeking legal services from a qualified eviction lawyer can help you navigate complex eviction laws and procedures. They can assist you with important aspects such as understanding security deposit regulations and your rights as a tenant under landlord tenant laws.

3. Can a tenant effectively defend themselves in an eviction case without legal representation?

While self-help resources are available, defending against eviction without legal counsel can be challenging, especially if the landlord has initiated a formal eviction process. Having an experienced eviction attorney by your side can provide you with the necessary legal assistance and increase your chances of success.

4. What are some common grounds for eviction that landlords may use?

Landlords may attempt to evict tenants for various reasons, including failure to pay rent, violating the terms of the lease, or causing damage to the property. Understanding the specific grounds for eviction is essential when formulating your defense with the help of an experienced eviction lawyer.

5. How can an eviction attorney assist tenants facing eviction?

An eviction attorney can assist tenants facing eviction in the following ways:

  • Assess the legality of the eviction notice and identify any defenses
  • Help tenant understand their rights and options under state and local law
  • File a written response to the eviction lawsuit within the tight legal deadlines
  • Gather evidence to support the tenant’s case, like photos, witness statements, or housing inspection reports
  • Negotiate with the landlord or their attorney for more time to move, a payment plan, or other settlement
  • Represent the tenant in court hearings and present legal arguments on their behalf
  • Challenge an illegal “self-help” eviction or lockout
  • Advise tenant on filing for bankruptcy or seeking rental assistance
  • Potentially help tenant sue landlord for wrongful eviction, harassment, or discrimination
  • Provide peace of mind and reduce stress during a difficult and confusing process