California -

Eviction is a dirty word for both tenants and the landlords that believe the time has come to remove one or more parties from an apartment. The process anywhere can lead to a strained relationship at best and a bitter acrimonious fight that ends up in the judicial system. If you are a tenant or a landlord in California, you need to know how the Golden State treats the eviction process. The situation is most often handled smoothly by a property management company, where details are managed efficiently and without emotion, and current laws are understood by a team of professionals. More complicated evictions may require the services of an attorney, especially if an unwitting landlord did not follow legal steps initially.

What are the 5 Primary Reasons for Evictions?

By far the most common reason for the termination of a lease and hence, the start of the eviction process, is the nonpayment of rent. Payment terms vary among leases, with some types of leases giving renters more time to catch up on payments. Other types of leases impose a harsh financial penalty for a late payment and a short period allowing for non-payment of rent.

Here are four other common reasons for evictions

  • Violation of Lease
  • Property Damage
  • Illegal behavior
  • Lease expires

The expiration of a rental lease typically does not lead to a sour relationship between a tenant and a landlord. Lease violations cover improper use of a rental unit, housing unauthorized pets, and allowing unapproved guests either to live in an apartment unit. Illegal behavior often involves some type of drug activity or the violation of a noise ordinance.

Learn about the Eviction Process in California

A landlord in California had the right to end a tenant contract before the contract expires, as well as evict a tenant for a wide variety of reasons. The reason for ending a tenant contract will decide which of the following notices a landlord must give a tenant.

Three-Day Notice to Cure

When a tenant violates one or more provisions of a lease, the landlord has the option to give the tenant three days to fix the issue. Landlords typically use this type of notice for tenants that have established a solid record of abiding by the provisions written into the lease. If the tenant does not correct the problem within three days, the landlord has the right in California to initiate the eviction process.

Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent

Most rental leases contain a clause giving the tenant a grace period to pay the monthly rent. After the grace period passes, landlords in California have the legal option to send the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent. This notice lets the tenant know she has 72 hours to catch up on rent. If the tenant fails to comply with this notice, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

Three-Day Unconditional Quit Notice

As a fancy way of saying “You need to be out of here in 72 hours,” a three-day unconditional quit notice lets the tenant know he or she has three days to vacate the premises. A landlord in California can use this notice under four circumstances.

  • Tenant sublets the apartment
  • Tenant commits a crime in the apartment
  • Tenant either created or allowed a public nuisance to happen
  • Tenant caused significant damage to the unit or the surrounding property

Terminating a Lease without Cause

California has established two different legal guidelines for terminating a lease without cause for a month-to month lease and a fixed length lease.


Moth-to-month tenants that lived in an apartment unit from fewer than 12 months have the right to receive a 30-day notice to leave the unit without cause. For a month-to-month renter living in an apartment unit for more than one year, the landlord must give the tenant 60 days to vacate the premises.

Fixed Length

Rental agreements that span a fixed number of months do not allow the landlord to end the rental agreement without cause. The landlord does not have to give the renter any notice for leaving the apartment at the expiration of the lease, that is, if there is not any clear language in the lease stating the terms for removal.

Evicting a Tenant in California

Landlords in California have one method for removing tenants: Going through the proper steps mandated by California law. A landlord must file an eviction lawsuit and then win an eviction lawsuit to remove a tenant legally. Eviction lawsuits in California are also called unlawful detainer lawsuits. After winning an eviction lawsuit, a landlord must involve the local sheriff to conduct the eviction process. California law prohibits landlords from performing an eviction personally.

California eviction law also covers the property left behind by a tenant. First, the landlord must inform the tenant about the left behind personal property and then give the tenant 15 days to recover the abandoned personal property. It is 15 days if the landlord delivers the message face-to-face; it is 18 days if the landlord notifies the tenant by snail mail. A landlord has the right in California to charge a tenant for the storage costs of abandoned personal property.

Do Tenants Have Any Eviction Defenses in California?

A tenant in California has the right to fight an eviction notice, which will add to the time it takes for an eviction lawsuit to conclude. The most common way to fight an eviction notice is to invoke California law when it comes to tenant-landlord relationships. California law stipulates certain procedures landlords must follow during the eviction process. Some of the procedures a landlord can violate during the eviction process include performing an eviction personally, trying to evict a tenant who can show proof of paying rent, and not following any of the three-day notice stipulations written into California law.

Author Bio:

Peter Evering, a property management and real estate expert, is the Business Development Manager of Utopia Management. With a hands-on presence throughout San Diego, California and Nevada, Utopia Management has been providing professional rental property services since 1994, at some of the lowest rates available.

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