Evicting a tenant in California

Property Management Blog

One of the worst responsibilities of a landlord is evicting the tenants; it's even horrible than getting then chasing a contractor to do repairs. Eviction is never an easy job; forcing someone out from the rental is not only challenging but extremely stressful. For such tenants, the rent due is of no importance; rules and regulations mean nothing to them, and as far as pets and their mess is concerned, they don't care about it at all.

There is no solution for such tenants other than eviction. Such kinds of tenants can't be handled; you shouldn't even try. However, if you live in California, the eviction process there is a bit different than around the US.

The Californian law varies from the law in all other states; here, you need to go through court proceedings to get the tenant out of your house. The eviction process is not only lengthy and tedious, but it also scrutinizes every aspect of the complaint, so there is no room for error.

Apart from that, this whole process can get a bit costly if you hire an attorney to represent yourself, which most landlords do since there are unaware of how the court and its proceedings work.

However, if you are looking to avoid mistakes and do the thing right the first time around, here's a brief guide that shall help you should you ever get stuck with a bad tenant in California.

Reasons for Eviction:

You can't just evict your tenant because you didn't like the look of them; to evict a tenant in California, you need an iron-clad reason. The following reasons are accepted for eviction:

  • The tenant failed to pay the rent.
  • The tenant defied the clauses of the lease agreement.
  • The tenant, in any way, damaged the property.
  • The tenant is a danger or disrespectful towards the neighbors.
  • The tenant is misusing the property, i.e., selling drugs or other such illegal activities.
  • The tenant refuses to vacate the property once the lease time is up.

Serving the Eviction Notice:

The following are the ways to serve the eviction notice to the tenants:

Personally, hand the notice to the tenants.

If he or she doesn't take it, you can leave it on the ground near him.

You can hand the notice to any adult, i.e., a person who is over 18 to his world place: home or neighborhood and email the tenant a copy of the notice.

You can also stick the notice on the tenant's door.

If you are evicting the tenant on non-payment of rent issues, you will first need to send him the pay or quit notice three days prior. This notice implies that the tenant has three days to either pay or leave the premises. If the tenant still doesn't clear his dues, the landlord has all the rights to start the court proceedings.

The Notice Period:

Before starting any court proceedings, you will have to wait until the notice period is up. For example, if you have served the tenant with pay or quit, you will need to wait for three days for the notice period to end. And if you have served the lease-end notice, you will have to wait for 30 days for that notice period to expire to start the court proceedings. Every notice comes with a different time period, and this time period must end before you start with the court proceedings. This notice period gives the tenant time to rethink his situation and rectify it.

Unlawful Detainer action:

When the notice period is over, and the tenant still hasn't rectified his behavior, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer action. The Unlawful detainer action is a formal complaint that is filed through the court system. This complaint requires the landlord to fill out a couple or more forms. The following are the forms you may have to fill:

  • Unlawful Detainer Complaint
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet
  • Prejudgment Claim of Right of Possession

The first two forms, i.e., Unlawful Detainer Complaint and Civil Case Cover Sheet, should be submitted to the county's courthouse where the rental is situated. And the third form is filled them you want to lodge a formal complaint against the person who is loving in the rental property but isn't stated in the lease, and you want to evict them along with the tenant.

Most landlords choose to hire a lawyer because the forms aren't easy to fill, they are full of legal jargon, and they also need to be accurate. However, if you can't do any of that and choose to do it yourself, make sure that you have done all your research and then sat to fill the forms, as you can't afford to make mistakes.

Serving The Tenant: Serving the tenant is simple; you need to let them know that you have filed the complaint and they have been summoned. However, you need proof that they have been served after being served; the tenant has 5 days to appear in the court and respond to the lawsuit.

The Court Process:

If the tenant doesn't respond in five days, the landlord can ask for a default judgment. In that case, the judge releases a Writ of Possession. The landlord is to take that to the Sheriff's office, and the Sheriff serves the tenant the Writ. Under-five days after being served, if the tenant doesn't leave, the Sheriff can remove the tenant physically and get the house vacated.

If the tenant responds to the complaint in five days, a trial date is agreed upon. Then both the parties explain their side of the story, present all proofs. If the landlord wins, he gets the Writ of Possession and can physically remove the tenant. However, if the tenant wins, the landlord gets "leave to amend." This is your second chance to prove you are right; it's best to get an attorney's help.

If you’d like to talk more about property management, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty.

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