Step-by-Step Eviction in California

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An eviction is the legal process landlords use to remove tenants who refuse to leave. In California, a landlord must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit to evict a tenant. You don't need an attorney to evict a tenant but you must follow the legal eviction process. Tenants can sue landlords who evict them by removing their possessions or changing the locks.

Give the tenant proper notice. California law requires landlords to give tenants who have resided in the dwelling 60 days to move out. If the tenant is on a month-to-month lease and has lived in the dwelling for less than a year, you must give the tenant 30 days to move out. If the eviction is for failure to pay rent or for violation of a lease provision, the tenant has three days to cure the default. If the tenant pays the rent or fixes the lease violation within those three days, you cannot evict him unless you follow the standard 30- or 60-day notice procedure.

Send the tenant a letter (certified mail, return receipt requested) clearly stating your intention to evict him. The return receipt will prove to the court that you followed the proper procedure. You should also post an eviction notice on the front door of the dwelling.

File an unlawful detainer suit in the Superior Court in the county in which the tenant resides. The court clerk will give you the paperwork. Fill it out and give it back to the clerk. Be sure to include a copy of the written notice you provided to the tenant.

Go to the eviction hearing. Eviction hearings are typically held 20 days or less after the unlawful detainer is filed. Tenants have the right to dispute an eviction if they are being evicted for violating the lease, therefore, it's important to take all possible documentation to the eviction hearing.

If you win the eviction hearing, the court will issue a writ of possession, which requires the tenant to leave the property within five days. If the tenant fails to leave, the writ of possession authorizes the sheriff to remove the tenant from the property.

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About the Author

Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.

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