California is one of the most lucrative states for investing in rental properties. Its strong economy, thriving tourism industry, and quality of life are a few of the reasons why the population in the Golden State is continuously growing. Being a landlord comes with a lot of rewards, but can also include risks.

One of the biggest risks of being a landlord is having to deal with a problematic tenant. A bad tenant are those who don’t respect your investment, don’t pay their rent on time, damage your rental, and cause problems with the neighbors. Sometimes, the only way to handle these kinds of residents is to evict them from the rental unit.

However, eviction is a legal process that should not be taken lightly and must adhere to Fair Housing Laws. Landlords must be aware of the right process for evicting renters to ensure that they remain in compliance with Landlord Tenant law and avoid future problems.

The California Eviction Process

Under California law, evicting a tenant can take around five to eight weeks. The length of the eviction process may vary depending on the type of eviction case. This can take more time if the tenant asks for a jury trial or countenance.

Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

In California when terminating a lease or rental agreement landlords must have just cause. This includes eviction as well as the end of a lease. It is not acceptable to refuse to renew a lease or rental agreement without a just cause. There are at-fault reasons and no-fault reasons for an eviction, according to the law.

The at-fault reasons for the tenant under California law include:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Breaking terms of the lease
  • Causing a nuisance or waste under the Code of Civil Procedure
  • Inability to renew the lease
  • Criminal activity
  • Subletting
  • Refusing to allow access to the owner
  • Unlawfully using the rental
  • Inability to deliver possession to the owner

The no-fault reasons include:

  • Owner intent to let a family member or spouse occupy the rental unit
  • Removal of the unit from the rental market
  • Unsafe living conditions
  • Plans to demolish the building

Under no-fault reasons landlords must provide the tenant with a payment equal to one month’s rent, as well as 15 days to find a new home. If they do not want to pay the tenant, they can let them stay in the rental property for a final free month so long as the proper receipts are provided.

Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice

California landlords are mandated to issue eviction notices to a tenant for at-fault reasons. The length of notice varies depending on the reason for eviction.

 a white envelope with a red pencil on it

Here are the types of eviction notices in the state of California:

Notice to Quit

The notice to quit is served to the tenant who fail to pay their rent on time. In California, rent is considered late immediately after the due date, unless the lease agreement states otherwise.

Landlords must serve a 3-day notice to quit to their tenant to give them the chance to pay their balance or move out of the property. After three days, if the tenant refuses to pay or vacate, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Notice to Move Out or Vacate

If a California tenant remains at the property even after the lease has expired, landlords have the right to evict them. A notice to move out must be served to the tenant, the length of which varies depending on the length of tenancy.

  • 30 calendar days’ notice to vacate: For tenancies of less than one year or for tenants with no lease
  • 60 calendar days’ notice to vacate: For tenancies of one year or more

When the notice expires and the tenant still remains at the unit, the landlord can then proceed with the eviction lawsuit.

Notice to Perform Covenants or Vacate

A tenant who violates the terms of the lease agreement or fail to uphold their duties as stated in the California landlord-tenant law may also be evicted. The landlord is required to provide a 3-day notice to perform covenants or vacate, providing an option to the renter to either fix the issue or move out.

two people covering their faces with moving boxes

Lease violations that may result in eviction proceedings include:

  • Failure to maintain the cleanliness and upkeep of the dwelling
  • Unreasonable and unsafe use of electrical, plumbing, gas, or other fixtures
  • Causing minor damage to the rental
  • Not allowing the landlord to access the unit
  • Subleasing or assigning the premises without proper consent from the landlord

If the notice period ends and the tenant still hasn’t fixed the issue and remains at the rental, the landlord can file the eviction process.

Notice to Vacate

If California tenants commit illegal activity, the landlord should serve them a 3-day notice to vacate. Tenants are not given a chance to fix the issue and are required to move out within three days.

Here are the illegal activities in California:

  • Making criminal threats or being involved in criminal activity
  • Promoting or engaging in prostitution
  • Using a firearm or other deadly weapon
  • Committing a criminal nuisance
  • Being involved in illegal drug activity
  • Causing substantial destruction to the premises
  • Conducting dogfighting or cockfighting

After the notice period, the landlord may proceed with the eviction if the tenant still remains at the premises.

Tenant Eviction Defenses in California

The defense is a reason why the landlord shouldn’t win the case. A tenant may claim that:

  • You tried to forcibly remove them by changing locks, removing their belongings, or shutting off essential utilities
  • The eviction case is retaliatory in nature
  • The property is not habitable
  • You did not uphold your duties as a landlord

Attending Court Hearing

After the proper notice period and the tenants still remain at the property, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit in California courts.

someone sitting at a desk using a laptop behind a justice scale

The court will then serve a summons to the tenant within 60 days. The tenant may choose to file an answer and this must be done within 5 business days.

The landlord should then file a request for a hearing which will be scheduled within 20 days. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, the Writ of Execution will be issued and the process for removing the tenant will proceed.

Writ of Execution

The Writ of Execution serves as the tenants’ final notice to vacate the property. The landlord must request a writ of execution within a few hours to a few days from the time the court rules in his favor. Landlords must pay a filing fee of $40 to issue the Writ of Execution.

The Eviction

Once the Writ of Execution is served, tenants are given 5 days to move out of the rental, or else the sheriff will forcibly remove them. If the tenants request for a Stay of Execution and this is granted by the court, the eviction will be delayed for another 40 days.

Bottom Line

Evictions can be difficult and complicated. At Graf Property Management we do everything in our power to make sure you don’t have to deal with them. But know, should they come up, our team is there to handle them for you. Contact us today for more information about all your property management needs.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.