The time and money spent navigating California’s tenant laws can be as much of a nuisance as a bad tenant. But sometimes an eviction is worth the vacancy. If you’ve decided to begin the process of evicting a bad tenant, always speak to an attorney first to verify your claim. Once you are assured that you have a justifiable cause, read on to learn how to begin your unlawful detainer suit.
When to Evict a Tenant
The type of notice you serve, the allowable course of action, and the length of the eviction process will all depend on the circumstances. A few examples of legal reasons to evict a tenant in California include:
- Failure to pay rent
- Damages to your property
- Violation of your lease terms or rental agreement (i.e. pet ownership, unapproved tenants, etc.)
- Refusal to leave after agreed upon term date
- Refusal to admit the landlord for inspections or repairs
- Illegal possession of drugs, weapons, or ammo
- Conducting business inside the residential property
What Type of Notice Must Be Given
Consult with an attorney which notice is appropriate for your situation. Generally, in the occurrence of a missed payment or lease violation, you may serve the notice within the next business day. Always keep a record of your notification.
3-Day Notice to Pay Rent: A tenant is legally allowed to withhold rent if you fail to make the residence livable, i.e. provide agreed-upon utilities or repair those utilities. However, if the tenant simply cannot make payments or refuses, you’re entitled to file a formal unlawful detainer through the court. Honor any buffer periods in the residential contract. You’ll need documentation of all outstanding debts and any previous attempts to collect the payment. In the case of serious property damage (i.e. a hole in the wall), you’ll also want to take photographs of the damages and provide any receipts indicating money owed for repairs. Always update a collection agency or credit bureau if the tenant pays their debt, and never notify a credit bureau without first notifying the tenant.
3-Day Notice to Cure: If the tenant has violated the terms of their residency, they’re allowed three days to correct their behavior (i.e. rehouse their pet, cease conducting business, etc.). Once a tenant has committed a violation, document the offense and give them a deadline to correct the behavior. If the tenant fails to address the issue, seek court approval to post a notification of early termination to the tenant’s door and send one to their mailing address.
What Happens If a Tenant Is Evicted
Once an unlawful detainer has been filed, a tenant must leave the premises in 5 days or appeal the eviction. If you successfully evict a tenant and they leave items behind, you must store the items for 2 weeks and attempt to return them to the tenant. Create a paper trail to protect yourself and your property.
Real Property Management West San Fernando Valley has a tenant screening process to help you prevent tenants that may be a nuisance. We can also handle the eviction process so you don’t have to do it yourselves. Contact us today.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.