Skip to main content
How to Evict Someone in California: Your Essential Guide

How to Evict Someone in California: Your Essential Guide

Nothing is more difficult for a landlord than eviction. 724,000 California households are $2.5 billion behind in their rent payments. Many of these families are looking at eviction. 

But landlords can't just lock tenants out of their apartments. In order to respect the legal rights of your tenants, you have to learn how to evict someone and go through a careful process. 

Under what grounds can you evict a tenant? What do you have to do to start the eviction process? How can you defend yourself at trial? 

Answer these questions and you can create a simple eviction process for yourself. Here is a quick guide for landlords about eviction.

Find Good Legal Grounds

Section 1161 of the California Code of Civil Procedure provides several grounds for eviction. You can remove a tenant if they fail to pay their rent on time. You can remove them if they damage the rental property or use their property for an unlawful purpose like selling drugs.

Serve Your Tenant an Eviction Notice

You must give your tenant an eviction notice in order to start the eviction process. The notice must explain your reason for removing them and the timeline for eviction. You must also include your contact information so your tenant can resolve the matter. 

You cannot lock a tenant out of their home or cut off their utilities. If your tenant failed to pay rent, you must give them three days to resolve the problem. You cannot impose penalties on the rental amount. 

File a Case in Court

Once your notice has expired, you can file documents with a court. You should start with the Unlawful Detainer Complaint, which details what the grounds for the eviction are. You then need to submit a Civil Case Cover Sheet and a Prejudgment Right of Possession Form. 

It takes time for the court to process your documents. During this time, you can try to resolve the matter on your own. If your tenant is willing to pay rent, you can accept it and withdraw your complaint. 

Go Through the Process

Your tenant can respond to the complaint and challenge its terms. If they do not respond within five days, you can ask for a default judgment and win your case. 

If they do respond, you may need to go to trial. You will have to bring proof that the tenant failed to pay rent or violated a rental agreement. You may need a lawyer, though you can represent yourself. 

Winning the case means you can evict a tenant. The tenant must leave within five days. If you lose the case, you may need to adjust your rental agreement and property management techniques.

Eviction laws give reasons for tenants to sue landlords. Your tenant can sue you if they feel you violated their privacy or put them in danger. Be prepared to defend yourself in a trial if you lose your initial case.

Figure Out How to Evict Someone

You must learn how to evict someone respectfully. You must have good legal grounds to evict a tenant. Missing the rent once is not enough. 

You must serve a notice to your tenant and give them an opportunity to respond. If they don't, you can evict them within a few days. 

If they do, you may proceed to a court hearing. You must have documentation to back yourself up and you may need legal assistance. You can remove your tenant after you win.

Property management can be difficult. Blue Line Property Management helps Bay Area landlords. Contact us today.