Why can someone be evicted?
- Uses the property for illegal purposes
- Violating the lease or rental agreement and not fixing the problem, such as having prohibited pets.
- Damaging the property.
- Seriously disturbing other tenants after being asked to stop.
- Failure to pay rent on time.
- Stays after the lease expires *
- Stays after the landlord gives proper notice that the tenancy is canceled *
* For properties subject to rent control, this may not constitute a good enough reason to evict a tenant. Further, a landlord cannot evict a tenant for an illegal reason, such as retaliation for the tenant reporting a hazardous condition or because the landlord does not like the tenant’s sexual orientation, religion, race, or national origin.
What is the eviction process?
First, the landlord gives written notice
To start the eviction process, the landlord or property manager must first give the tenant written notice to move out. If the tenant doesn’t do what the notice demands before the time in the notice runs out, the landlord can then file an unlawful detainer action.
There are multiple types of notices with many versions easily found online, but not all comply with California law. Talk to an attorney or conduct your own research if you believe your landlord gave you improper notice. The notices are generally as follows:
Three Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit
A landlord may use this type of notice to demand that a tenant who is violating terms of the lease or rental agreement fix the problem. For example, if the tenant has moved in an unauthorized subtenant or pet without permission, the landlord may serve a three day notice demanding that the tenant correct the problem or move out within three days.
Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
A landlord may use this type of notice to demand that a tenant who not paying rent catch up on payments or move out. During the Covid-19 moratorium, this type of notice was replaced with a special fifteen day notice that included information about the moratorium protections.
Thirty Day Notice to Quit
A landlord may use this type of notice to demand that a tenant who has been living in the property for less than a year to move out at the end of their lease or rental agreement.
Sixty Day Notice to Quit
A landlord may use this type of notice to demand that a tenant who has been living in the property for a year or more to move out at the end of their lease or rental agreement.
Ninety Day Notice to Quit
A landlord may use this type of notice to demand that a tenant living in subsidized housing to move out at the end of their lease or rental agreement.
When given notice by a landlord or property manager, the tenant generally has a choice to make:
- Give a written reply to the notice explaining why it is improper (We can type this.)
- Ignore the notice and prepare to fight the eviction
- Hire an attorney to defend
- Do what the notice demands
- Try to reach an agreement with the landlord
Second, the landlord files a complaint
If the tenant has not done what Notice demands within the requested time, the, the landlord may file a complaint in court along with related documents. This is the way a lawsuit is started, and it may create a public record that the tenant has been sued.
Third, a process server gives the tenant a copy of the summons, complaint, and related documents
A qualified person must properly serve a copy of the Complaint and related documents on the tenant. This generally requires personal service, but there are many exceptions to the general rule, and the rules become very lax if there is evidence that a person is intentionally avoiding service of process.
Fourth, the tenant responds
If the tenant intends to defend against the action, they can generally file an Answer, Move to Quash Service, or file a Demurrer. Each of these documents must be in proper legal form, served on the landlord, and filed with the court. If the tenant’s response to the Complaint is not filed with the court within the required deadline, the landlord can ask the court to enter a default, and the tenant may automatically lose without the court ever hearing the tenant’s side of the case.
We can help prepare an Answer, Motion to Quash, or a Demurrer.
Fifth, the parties exchange discovery
Discovery is evidence. A tenant has the right to ask the landlord to provide evidence related to the reasons the tenant is being evicted. When the tenant serves the landlord with a request for discovery, the landlord must provide it or be subject to possible sanctions by the court.
We can help prepare requests for discovery.
Sixth, the matter is set for trial
The Plaintiff requests that the court set a trial, and the tenant will receive notice in the mail with the date and location of the trial. If the tenant does not show up, the court will generally automatically rule against the tenant. If the tenant doesn’t have an attorney, the tenant will have to represent themselves in court. We do not appear at trial or assist with trial. If the judge (or jury) decides that the tenant wins, the court tenant will be allowed to stay in the property, and the landlord may be ordered to pay the tenant for costs incurred defending the suit. If the judge (or jury) decides the landlord has the right to evict the tenant, the judge will give the landlord a Judgment of Possession.
Seventh, the tenant may ask a new trial
The tenant can ask for retrial by filing an appeal or by asking the court to set aside the judgment. We can help type either of these documents, but neither of these actions prevent the landlord from taking possession of the property. However, either one can be used to show good cause why the court should issue a stay of execution of judgement.
Eighth, the landlord may ask for execution of judgement
The landlord may ask for a writ of execution, which is an order directed to the sheriff. The sheriff serve the tenant with a notice to vacate, and then will remove the tenant from the property five days later.
This process may be stopped by getting the court to issue a stay of execution of judgement, which we can help prepare.