California Eviction Process & Laws

By PropertyClub Team
Mar 6th 2023
When a tenant stops paying rent or breaches the lease terms, it’s essential to go through the proper channels to evict them. California has strict laws to protect tenants’ rights, and you can get in serious trouble if you try to forcibly remove a tenant on your own. Here is an in-depth look at the eviction process in California.

hash-markHow Long Does It Take to Evict a Tenant in California?

It typically takes at least 30 to 45 days to evict a tenant in California, from the time you start the process to the day they move out. However, the exact amount of time it takes to evict a tenant depends on how busy the courts are and whether the tenant cooperates with the process. In some cases, you can expedite the process if the tenant is doing something dangerous or illegal in the apartment, but typically, it will take 1 to 2 months.

hash-markHow to Evict a Tenant in California

  1. Understand the Grounds for Eviction
  2. Provide the Tenant With Written Notice
  3. Start the Eviction Case in Court
  4. Ask the Judge for a Trial Date or Default Judgement
  5. Take the Case to Trial
  6. Follow the Judge’s Orders

1. Understand the Grounds for Eviction

Before you begin the eviction proceedings, it’s essential to understand what actions qualify for eviction. You don’t want to go through the entire legal process only to have a judge rule in favor of the tenant. So, research and gather proof that the tenant has committed an offense worthy of eviction. The most common reason to evict someone is failure to pay rent. However, you can also evict a tenant if they clearly violate the lease terms, such as doing excessive damage to the apartment, keeping pets in a no-pets building, or having loud parties late into the night. However, it must be stated in the lease that they are not permitted to engage in that type of behavior, even if it’s disruptive. Otherwise, you may have trouble convincing a judge to rule in your favor.

2. Provide the Tenant With Written Notice

Once you’ve confirmed that the tenant committed an offense worthy of eviction, the next step is to provide them with a written notice asking them to leave and letting them know you are starting a court case. You can also tell them verbally if you wish. However, you must also provide written notice to prove to the judge you gave them a prior warning.

3. Start the Eviction Case in Court

Once you’ve given the tenant proper notice and they still have not moved out, the next step is to officially start the eviction process in court. To file for eviction in California, you must fill out four forms, a summons, a complaint, the plaintiff’s mandatory cover sheet and supplemental allegations, and a civil case cover sheet. You will also attach a copy of the lease agreement, proof of the written notice, and any other evidence you think might help your case. You should also check to see if there are any local forms you need to fill out and make a copy for your own records. 

4. Ask the Judge for a Trial Date or Default Judgement

Once you submit the paperwork, the tenant will be served with the summons and complaint forms. They then have five business days to file their response to the court. If the tenant responds, you can ask the judge to give you a court date to present your evidence and seek a ruling. If the tenant does not respond within five days, you can ask the judge for a default judgment, which means the court automatically rules in your favor, and the tenant will be ordered to move out immediately.

5. Take the Case to Trial

If the tenant does issue their response, you’ll be given an official trial date where you can make your case. Before the day arrives, preparing and gathering as much evidence as possible is crucial. Even if you think the case is fairly black and white, it’s still important to be prepared, so you aren’t surprised, so gather and organize all the important facts related to the case. You may even find it helpful to write out your testimony ahead of time so you don’t leave out anything important. Providing evidence such as photos, emails, text messages, and important documents like the lease agreement will go a long way toward proving your case. You may even bring in any witnesses if you think it will help.

6. Follow the Judges Orders 

The judge will listen to your testimony, then give the tenant a chance to respond. After hearing both sides of the story and reviewing the evidence, the judge will decide whether the tenant should be evicted or allowed to stay in the apartment. If the eviction is over unpaid rent and you are able to clearly demonstrate they have not paid in several months, then the judge will likely rule in your favor. However, other situations may be less cut and dry, and the judge may attempt to help you find common ground rather than moving forward with an eviction. Whatever they ultimately rule, you must follow the judge’s orders and either have the tenant evicted by the proper authorities or allow them to stay in the apartment under the required conditions.

hash-markCalifornia Eviction Process Bottom Line

Evictions are never easy, but as long as you follow the proper protocols, you shouldn’t have too many issues. Just gather as much evidence to support your case as possible and avoid the temptation to evict the tenant on your own.

hash-markCalifornia Eviction Process FAQ

How Much Notice Does a Landlord Have to Give a Tenant to Move Out in California?

It depends on how long the tenant has lived in the apartment. Landlords must give the tenant 30 days to move out if they have lived in the unit for less than one year or have a month-to-month lease. Otherwise, 60 days' notice is required for tenants who have resided in the apartment for more than one year.

Can You Be Evicted in 3 Days in California?

Yes, it’s possible that the landlord can serve what is called a 3 days’ notice to quit if they believe the tenant is doing something very serious such as causing or allowing a dangerous situation to happen or engaging in illegal activity inside the apartment. But in most cases, they must give at least 30 or 60 days.

How Many Days Do You Have to Move Out After Eviction Notice California?

Once you receive the eviction notice, you have five days to respond to the landlords’ claims. If you do not plan on fighting the eviction, you should move out as soon as possible, or you can stay in the apartment until the case goes to court.

Can You Be Evicted Without Notice in California?

No, the landlord must notify you to leave the apartment before they can begin the eviction proceedings. They will be required to show proof they gave the proper notice in court to justify the eviction.