California eviction requirements for landlords, tenants

(KGTV) - Knowing your rights and requirements as a landlord and tenant during an eviction process is important to ensure both parties are able to settle the matter legally and smoothly.

The State of California spells out these steps online for both parties to proceed through the eviction process legally.

If you're a landlord...

In order to begin the eviction process, landlords must notify their tenant in writing first, according to the Superior Court of California.

The person who serves the notice must be at least 18-years-old and submit the notice:

  • Directly to the tenant in person,
  • By leaving the notice with a member of the household, at least 18-years-old, where the tenant lives and mailing a second copy to the tenant, or
  • Posting and mailing ("nail and mail") the notice to the front door or somewhere where it can be seen easily and sending a copy by mail to the tenant.

If the tenant does not comply with the notice for the given time frame, the landlord can begin the process of filing for an Unlawful Detainer to submit in court.

If the tenant continues to ignore notices to vacate the property a landlord can file for a Default Judgment, requiring them to file forms in court. 

More information on California's eviction process for landlords.

If you're a tenant...

As mentioned above, a landlord must submit a written eviction notice to their tenant to begin the process. During this phase, the state's Superior Court recommends talking with the landlord to see if there is the possibility to stay or extend the time allowed to stay before eviction.

If that fails, a tenant can file a Request for a Stay of Eviction ("Stay") and set an ex parte hearing. If a judge grants the request, the tenant may have to continue paying rent and the time period will depend on the case.

If served with an Unlawful Detainer, tenants have five days after the summons is served to file a response with the court. If a tenant fails to do so, they could lose the case and be evicted, and lose wages, money, and property without further warning from the court.

If brought to trial, a tenant should have the following documents ready:

  • The lease or rental agreement,
  • The Notice served on the tenant,
  • Letter(s) you wrote or received about the rental unit,
  • Photos that show damage to the unit, if applicable,
  • Photos that show unsafe or unhealthy conditions, if applicable, and
  • Building inspection reports, if applicable.

Also of importance, if an eviction appears on a tenant's credit report, the courts cannot do anything about it. Tenants must contact their credit agency for their steps on their process.

More information on California's eviction process for tenants.

If you're in the military...

Special rules apply to service members that are served with an eviction notice in California.

A service member may be entitled to a stay of an eviction for 90 days. The rule applies to service members or their dependents in a residential until paying rent of $2,400 a month or less.

The service member's ability to pay rent must be materially affected by their military service.

A judge may order the stay on their own or at the service member's (or a representative's) request and can set the length of time for the delay as they see fit.

Landlords who violate the eviction process in regards to any servicemember could face a fine or imprisonment for up to a year.

It's recommended that anyone dealing with California's eviction process follow the state's court processes found online here.

When it comes to the physical eviction...

The final phase of an eviction is the physical removal of a tenant from a property. This is considered the final act in the Unlawful Detainer portion of the process, according to Landlord.com.

In this instance, a law enforcement officer will come out to the property and escort the tenant(s) from the premises. This awards the landlord a receipt for return of the property.

If the tenant(s) return to the property without the landlord's permission, they can be found guilty of trespassing and be arrested.

The landlord may dispose of personal property left on the premises.

Challenges...

Challenges come during the eviction process if requirements by either the landlord or tenants are not followed to a "t." This could result in an array of problems that prevent the process from being completed.

Even though it may not be specifically stated, California rental agreements rely on good faith contracts between landlords and tenants.

"Essentially, this means that both the landlord and the tenant must treat each other honestly and reasonably. This duty of good faith and fair dealing is implied by law in every rental agreement and every lease, even though the duty probably is not expressly stated," a state guide on renters' rights said.

The state spells out a variety of basic tips, suggestions, and standards for both tenants and landlords to follow when preparing and signing rental agreements.

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