Eviction Process In California

Eviction Process In California

Before evicting a tenant or requiring them to leave the premises permanently, California law requires landlords to terminate the residence with a legal process. Landlords must provide the tenant written notice first before the formal eviction lawsuit comes. If the tenant moves out upon receiving notice, no lawsuit is necessary.

If the tenant refuses to move out and, for example, refuses to pay the rent or find a new home for the dog (when the lease prohibits pets) upon being served the notice to leave—then the landlord may file a legal eviction proceeding. Eviction lawsuits are also referred to as unlawful detainer lawsuits.

For serious lease violations, the landlord need not provide the tenant the choice of correcting the problem. California law offers cases where a landlord may end a residence, with differing kinds of termination notices and procedures needed for different types of situations. Communities with rent-management ordinances could impose extra rules on terminating a residence.

Notice for Termination With Cause

A landlord will terminate a California residence early and evict the tenant for a number of reasons besides failure to pay rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing a criminal act. Before terminating the residence, the landlord should provide the tenant written notice. The explanation for the termination will determine the kind of notice required.

Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent

If the tenant does not pay the rent when it is due, the landlord may provide the tenant with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit (quit means leave forever). This notice tells the tenant that they have three days to pay rent fully. If the tenant does not pay rent, then the landlord may file a legal eviction proceeding with the court at the end of the three days. If you need to see an eviction notice, you can Download free eviction notice forms from Express Evictions, a California law firm specializing in evictions. The notices at the link are, especially for California.

Three-Day Notice to Cure

If the tenant violates the lease or rental agreement in another way besides not paying, the landlord may provide the tenant a three-day notice to cure. This notice tells the tenant that they have three days to correct the violation. If the tenant does not fix the violation inside three days, then the landlord may file a legal eviction proceeding.

Three-Day Unconditional Quit Notice

This notice informs the tenant that they should move out of the rental unit inside three days of receiving the notice. The tenant is not allowed any time to fix any violation. If the tenant does not move out inside three days, the landlord will go to the court to file a legal eviction proceeding. The landlord will use a three-day unconditional quit notice only in the following situations:

  • The tenant has sublet the rental unit in violation of the lease or rental agreement.
  • The tenant has caused substantial damage to the landlord’s property.
  • The tenant has allowable or created a nuisance at the rental unit, or,
  • The tenant has been involved in criminal activity on the premises of the rental unit.

Notice for Termination Without Cause

The rules for terminating a lease without cause depend on whether or not the tenancy is month-to-month or a fixed term.

Month-to-Month Residence

If a tenant has a month-to-month rental agreement and has lived in the rental unit for less than one year, the landlord may give the tenant a written 30-day notice to end the residence. If the tenant has lived in the rental unit for more than one year and is month-to-month, then the landlord should provide the tenant with a written 60-day notice to end the residence. Notices should inform the tenant that the residency expires at the end of the time given in the notice, and therefore the tenant should move out by that time.

Fixed-Term Residence

For tenancies that are longer than month-to-month, for example, six months or 12 months, the landlord cannot end the residency without cause until the end of the term. The landlord does not provide the tenant notice to move out at the end of the time unless the lease specifically calls for it. This means that if the tenant has a year-long residence that expires at the end of December, and the tenant has not requested a lease renewal, the landlord need not provide the tenant notice to move out by the end of December.

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