One of the most complicated parts of being an owner is following Property Management Laws in California especially when it comes to the eviction process.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve owned rental properties in Stockton or elsewhere across the Central Valley for years, or you’re just getting started, knowing the evictions process is one of the keys to success with building a long term, profitable portfolio of rental properties.
What are some reasons I can evict a tenant?
The state of California recognizes a number of reasons for an eviction, including:
- Failure to pay rent
- Damage to the property
- Violating terms of the rental contract
- Remaining on the property after the lease is up
- Illegal uses of the property including drug use, production, or sales
- Being a nuisance to other tenants
- The end of a month-to-month tenancy
Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant?
- Tenants cannot be evicted as a retaliatory moveif they called a health inspector or agency, or exercised their rights in any other way.
- If the property violates the laws of habitability.
What is the eviction process normally like?
Eviction cases in the State of California must be seen by a judge, who will ultimately decide who is in the right. That said, it’s really important to be meticulous in your paperwork and filing to ensure there aren’t any slip ups – this will save you in the end.
Don’t forget that “self-help” evictions are illegal. Trying to evict a tenant by changing the locks, turning off the utilities, attempting to physically remove them before a court makes a decision, removing doors or windows, or removing a tenant’s possessions is illegal and will result in the dismissal of your eviction case.
If, after attempting to work out payment or settle a disagreement with a tenant, you decide to proceed with an eviction, the procedure must be followed closely:
- Serve the tenant with a legal, written notice to leave the property. A 3-day notice to quit in California is acceptable for all complaints for a tenant with a lease, whether it’s unpaid rent or a nuisance complaint. For month-to-month tenants, a 30 day notice is required.
- If the tenant doesn’t leave the property voluntary within 3 days, an eviction will proceed to court in what is called an unlawful detainer lawsuit. After you file your Summons & Complaint at the court and serve the tenant with papers, the tenant has 5 days to respond. Papers must be handed to the tenant by your or another responsible party over the age of 18.
- If the tenant does not respond within 3 days,the court will likely make a judgment in your favor. If the tenant does respond by filing the proper legal documentation with the Clerk of the Court in which the lawsuit was filed, the case will proceed to a hearing.
- During the hearing, the court will decide if the tenant has a good defense or not. If they decide in favor of the tenant, they will not evict them, and the landlord may be ordered to pay court costs and attorney fees.
- If they decide in favor of the landlord,the court will issue a writ of possession. This orders a sheriff to remove the tenant from the property, or give them 5 days to do it themselves. The court may also award the landlord any unpaid rent, damages, attorney’s fees, and up to $600 as a penalty fee if they find that the tenant acted maliciously. This will be reflected on the tenant’s credit report for seven years.
- After the writ of possession is awarded, by the end of the fifth day,the sheriff is legally able to lock the tenant out and seize any property within the unit. The landlord is not entitled to possession of the unit until after the tenant and their property is removed.
- If applicable, the tenant or the landlord have the right to file an appeal. In the meantime, the tenant must still leave the property if ordered to by the court.
Source – Buildium
Learn More about Property Management Laws California
To learn more about property management laws California or to speak with us about our property management services, contact Real Property Management Central Valley today by calling us at (209) 572-2222 or click here to connect with us online.