California evictions are regulated under the state's Landlord and Tenant Act. This act describes the exact requirements for taking eviction action against a tenant, as well as the legal reasons for eviction. Receiving a notice to quit is the first step in the eviction process, but the landlord has not yet filed the eviction lawsuit.
A 60-Day Notice to Quit is used to end periodic tenancies, also known as month-to-month leases. A 60-day notice is required for tenants living month-to-month in the same unit for a year or longer. The notice provides the property address and tenant name(s), and the date by which relocation must occur. If the tenant does not vacate by that date, the landlord is free to commence with eviction.
Unlike other types of eviction, a landlord of a month-to-month lease does not need a specific cause to end the tenancy. However, there are three scenarios where the legality of a lease termination is subject to question: if the tenant suspects the landlord is ending the tenancy based on discriminatory reasons; if the landlord ends the tenancy to retaliate against tenant complaints to local government offices or the housing authority; or if the tenant lives in a rent-controlled city. The first two reasons require evidence proving that ending the lease is not the true eviction reason. A tenant in a rent-controlled city has to be evicted for cause.
Unlawful detainer is the name of the lawsuit the landlord files if the tenant does not leave on the date specified in the notice to quit. The court summons is served to the tenant. California requires a process server to attempt hand delivery three times before posting the notice on the property and mailing a copy, or serving another adult living in the home. A landlord can petition for the ability to instead send the summons by mail. The tenant has five days to answer the complaint if delivered in person, or 15 days, if not. Form UD-105 is used to file an answer to the eviction suit.
Tenants have the opportunity to argue against the eviction during the hearing, and the landlord presents evidence proving the eviction is simply for ending the tenancy. Courts tend to side with landlords unless there is strong supporting evidence discrediting the eviction reason. Another defense is if the landlord made a mistake during the eviction process, either by filing during the written notice period or not properly serving a tenant with all required paperwork.
Writ of Execution
A Writ of Execution and also a Judgment of Possession are granted to the landlord if he wins the case. The judgment gives the landlord full rights to his property, while the writ is delivered to the sheriff's office. This writ gives the sheriff permission to remove the tenant and his property from the location. California gives tenants five days to move after a writ is granted.