Eviction of a tenant can become quite a cumbersome job for a landlord, especially in California. It is not a situation that any landlord would want to resort to until absolutely necessary. Sometimes, you may be under the impression that the tenants whom you have given legal permission to stay in your property are the ideal ones. But with some tenants it doesn’t take time for things to turn sour. They may not be complying with the agreements mentioned in the rental agreement, or they may refuse to pay rent and be agonizingly late in clearing their past due balance.
However, as a landlord, this doesn’t enable you to use force or any other unlawful means to evict your problematic tenant. Certain legal steps need to be followed to the letter so that you have the law on your side and the tenant doesn’t use an incorrect eviction move by you in defending their case in court if it comes to that.
It is always better to hire an attorney because they will have a sound knowledge of the complete process from start to end and will be able to guide you in drafting the eviction notice and serving it. However, it is not an absolute necessity. Landlords in California can themselves initiate and complete an eviction process of their own. Express Evictions, a California law firm specializing in evictions, charges reasonable fees to get problem tenants out. However, they have to take extra care and precautions so that there is no error of any kind. They just have to follow the following seven steps:
Step 1. Having proper reasons for eviction
The legal grounds on which to evict the tenant are the first things that need to be determined by the landlord so that they can initiate the process. Speaking from the perspective of California per se, a tenant is liable for eviction if they don’t pay the rent on time, breach the terms and conditions in the agreement, do some damage to the property, cause a nuisance, or do some illegal activities. There are different types of notices that the landlord can choose to serve here.
They can ask the tenant to resolve the problems within a stipulated time or quit, or they may simply ask the tenant to vacate without any further clarification. The number of days for vacating also has to be determined, depending on the various situations. It can be a 3-Day notice for leases, a 30-Day notice or even a 60- or 90-day one, depending on years of occupancy and other legal aspects.
Step 2: Serve the notice to the tenant
Generally, it is not recommended that a landlord serve the notice to the tenant. Seek professional help in the form of a process server because the tenant can take steps to avoid the landlord purposely. The serving can be done in multiple ways. A copy can be given directly to the tenant, or it may be given to an 18-year old or older. Or an appropriate order from the court can be obtained to stick to the front door and send in certified mail. In case the tenant doesn’t quit the premises during the notice period, the case will move on to Unlawful Detainer in court, and it will proceed accordingly.
Step 3: Filing an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit
Like mentioned before, an Unlawful Detainer suit gets initiated when the tenant refuses to vacate the occupancy within the notice period. An Unlawful Detainer makes the case a little more complicated than before, and a landlord may feel the need to hire an attorney or legal help now more than ever. Once all the necessary steps are taken, the court will take the matters in hand and serve the summons to the unlawful tenants.
Step 4: Allow Time to Respond
Once the notice has been served, the tenant will have time to respond to the allegations. They may either choose to cure the problems or vacate the premises within the stipulated time or contest the case in court in case they think they are being wrongfully evicted. The important part here is the time limit by which a response has to be made.
Step 5: Ask a Court for a Trial Date
If the tenant decided to contest the case, it would move to the court. A trial date is requested by the court, and it is generally taken up within 20 days of filing.
Step 6: Attending the court trials.
The landlord and the tenant may have to visit the court multiple times for hearings. The final judgment lies in the hands of the judge now.
Step 7: Organize a scheduled move out
If the judge rules the case in the landlord’s favor, a writ is given to the local sheriff, who will serve the final verdict to the tenant and initiate the vacancy physically, if need be, after five days.
Life as a landlord in California will become much simpler once you are aware of these eviction steps.