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California Eviction Laws: A Landlord's Guide

Alexandra Goldthwaite - Friday, September 2, 2022
Property Management Blog

Evicting a troublesome tenant can save you thousands of dollars and hours of headaches. In order for a California eviction to be legal, you have to follow certain rules. The rules were put in place to protect tenants from landlords who might try to evict tenants on unjust grounds.

Read on to learn more about California eviction laws and how they pertain to you as a landlord.

The Tenant Protection Act of 2019

In 2019, the California legislature voted to pass AB 1482, or The Tenant Protection Act. The act makes it a requirement for a landlord to have a valid reason to evict a tenant provided the tenant has lived on the property for at least 12 months. It's called the "just cause" protection for evictions.

For What Reasons Can You Serve a California Eviction Notice?

Tenants are protected by law, thus, you can only evict them for one of the "at fault" or "no fault" reasons as described by the law. An "at fault" reason is where the landlord says their tenant has done something wrong. These can include:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Breaking a rule in the lease agreement
  • Illegal activity
  • Refusing to sign a new lease similar to your previous one
  • Subletting (if explicitly forbidden)
  • Denying the landlord entry when they have the legal right to do so

The Tennant Protection Act of 2019 only applies after tenants have occupied a property for 12 months or more. In other cases, it's possible to evict someone for much less - or nothing at all.

Getting Started with Eviction in California

Whether you are evicting someone for an "at fault" reason or "no fault" reason doesn't matter. The first step is always to provide your tenant with a written notice telling them why. You need to give them a deadline by which they need to comply before you can move on to the next step.

You cannot evict someone for a legally protected status, such as sexual orientation, gender, religion, nationality, marital status, job, disability, or public assistance status.

Start a Court Case

If the changes weren't made by the deadline, you start to file a court case. Serve your tenant with a summons and complaint forms. After that, they'll have five days to respond.

The Trial

Depending on how your tenant responds and the circumstances of the case, your case may move ahead to a trial. The judge hears from both sides and decides if the tenant must move out (and pay you money, if requested in the complaint).

The Decision

If a judge or jury finds in favor of you, you'll have some paperwork to sign. It will move the process forward toward removing the tenant and getting any money back that they owe you.

You Don't Have to Do It Alone

Getting a California Eviction is a complicated process. You need to have a good complaint and give your tenant time to address it. If they don't address the complaint, you have to take them to court.

You don't have to go through this process by yourself. A good property management company can help find, screen, rent to, and evict tenants for you. 

If you'd like to learn more about how a property management company can help you, contact us today.