In the last year, there's been plenty of new legislation introduced as part of the COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today we will discuss new California eviction laws and landlord-tenant laws in the age of COVID-19, like the nonpayment of rent by the tenant.
It’s important to have a knowledge of the conditions in which a landlord might consider eviction, and what eviction process is allowed by California landlord-tenant law.
Below you'll find a helpful overview of the effects these eviction process changes could have on landlords in regards to their tenant in California.
New Eviction Legislation
Eviction law in California has changed over the past year and has gotten fairly complicated because of Just Cause legislation and eviction moratoriums introduced as part of the Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
This new legislation has impacted landlords and has affected how they respond to issues with tenants and how to evict a tenant.
Reasons for Evicting a Tenant In California
There are a few basic reasons why a landlord can evict a tenant at any time, COVID notwithstanding.
The most simple is when a tenant does not pay rent, which makes up the vast majority of evictions. Failure to pay rent goes against the rental agreement, as unpaid rent is a clear breach of the contract by the tenant. Also common is a cure or quit—when a tenant is violating some provision of their rental unit lease, such as having more than the allowed number of people living in the rental unit. In this case, tenants must remedy the violation to avoid eviction.
In other circumstances—when a tenant causes a violation that cannot be remedied, such as property damage or illegal actions—you give the tenant a notice to quit. In each of these circumstances, the reason behind evicting a tenant cannot be discriminatory, and a landlord must give notice.
Serving An Eviction Notice In California
According to landlord-tenant laws, the landlord should only give the tenant an eviction notice if the tenant has a valid rental unit lease in the first place. That's because once you serve a three-day notice, you're acknowledging that there's an existing tenancy. That's why a three-day notice is something you only give to people who are tenants already and who pay rent when embarking on the eviction process.
In situations with no rent control, when you have a tenant who has stayed past their time and you want to evict them, a landlord must not take any money from the tenant, as this can form an unintended landlord-tenant relationship that complicates eviction proceedings. To reiterate, tenants do not pay rent in this case.
Evicting Tenant With No Lease: Notices of Non-Renewal
Can you evict a tenant without a lease in California? At the end of a non-renewed 12-month lease, the residential tenant has to leave. If the tenant doesn't leave, eviction procedures can follow.
You do not have to give the tenant a notice in practice once a fixed-term lease has come to its end, though most landlords give the tenant 30-to-60-day notices of non-renewal. You cannot just evict the tenant.
There's no California law stating you have to give notice to the tenant, but from a practical perspective, if you don't communicate with your tenant that they're expected to leave at the end of the 12 months, the tenant may not know they have to leave, and the tenant will remain in your rental property simply because you did not tell them.
For this reason, it's both courteous and practical to ensure tenants know when their leases are up.
California Eviction Process for Non Payment of Rent: Grace Periods
In California, there are no official grace period laws for a tenant, but the vast majority of leases have some sort of provision in there that says the rent is due on the first but will not be considered late a date a few days later, for example.
While a landlord is free not to offer grace periods to tenants, they should also consider how judges will interpret the law. Eviction-related issues are not a good time for thinking outside the box or bringing your creativity.
You don't want to do things that are unusual because the judge will pick up on that and might make a mistake and say you've done something wrong. Though the judge would be making a mistake, you’d be the one to suffer and the tenant will win.
It is recommended to act as though your leases have grace periods for three days for each tenant—even if they don't—before putting up an eviction notice.
Why? Three-day grace periods are seen most often by judges, and you can save yourself the trouble by adhering to the common process and standards.
Notice to Vacate Vs Notice of Non-Renewal
Some people are confused about the difference between notices of non-renewal and notices of rental termination in California law.
In a fixed-term lease, the landlord will have a defined timestamp where the lease is up, so while a notice of non-renewal is generally a good idea, it's not legally necessary.
On the other hand, in a month-to-month arrangement, the landlord will have to give legal written notice of the end of their rental agreement.
Eviction Laws & Renters Protection In California: Final Thoughts
Many legal issues surrounding evictions in the time of COVID remain up in the air and are dependent on your specific area. Are the courts open and hearing cases? And if so, how long will it realistically take for an eviction case to be heard before a judge?
The shifting legal landscape for landlords can be tricky to navigate, and you should consider consulting with a legal expert.
How evictions will proceed for your property can depend on what county you live in and even what court you are assigned to.
Want to learn more about issues that affect landlords in the San Diego area? Get in touch with the team at North County Property Group.
We offer a wealth of property management services for rental property investors that can help you avoid legal troubles and keep your investment stress-free and profitable.