Tenant Eviction

California landlords can evict tenants with an unlawful detainer action

If you are a landlord and you wish to evict a tenant for not paying rent, for endangering others, for endangering your property, or for otherwise breaching your rental agreement, you must file an unlawful detainer with the county court.Unlawful detainer (UD) cases are used to determine who has the right to live at your property. These types of cases can be complicated because there are many variables. However, as a landlord, there are steps you can take to legally evict someone from your property.

In California, an unlawful detainer ordinarily refers to the conduct of a tenant who is in possession of an apartment or leased property and refuses to pay rent or to leave the premises upon the expiration or termination of the lease.

Common reasons why a landlord would start an unlawful detainer include:

  • The tenant does not leave after the lease ends;
  • There is a month-to-month lease, and the tenant does not move out after a notice to quit move out has been served upon the tenant;
  • The tenant doe not pay rent and does not move out after being served with a three-day notice to pay rent or move out.
  • An unlawful detainer action is a special court proceeding. Usually, the action happens fairly quickly. Once you file for the detainer, the tenant has a limited period, usually five days, to file a response. If the tenant disagrees with the detainer action, a trial can be held approximately three weeks later. During the proceeding, the court decides if the landlord can take the property back from the tenant. The landlord is the plaintiff and the tenant is the defendant.

    To satisfy the due process rights guaranteed to the tenant by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the landlord must strictly follow the statutory procedures, or the tenant can challenge the unlawful detainer proceedings on technicalities and force the landlord to start over again. If you win, you must serve an eviction notice on the tenant. If the tenant refuses to leave, only the sheriff can physically evict a tenant, a landlord must not.

    Restrictions on Landlords

    As a landlord, prior to receiving an order of eviction from the court, you cannot under any circumstance physically evict the tenant, get rid of the tenant’s belongings, lock the tenant out, or shut off utilities to the property. Even after obtaining the eviction order, a landlord must carefully follow state law regarding the disposal of a tenant’s property that is left behind.

    Unlawful detainers can be complex, but we have a depth of knowledge and experience helping landlords navigate the legal process. Contact us to discuss your case in detail.