Property Management Blog

California Eviction Process

Bob Preston - Monday, February 8, 2021
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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. 

It’s important to have a knowledge of the conditions in which a landlord in California might consider eviction, and what is allowed by California landlord-tenant law.

Below you'll find a helpful overview of the effects these changes could have on Landlords in California. 

New Eviction Legislation

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.

The effects of this new legislation have had an effect on California landlords and have affected how they respond to issues with tenants.


Reasons for Evicting a Tenant In California

reasons for evicting

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 refuses to pay their rent, which makes up the vast majority of evictions. Also common is a cure or quit—when a tenant is violating some provision of their lease (aside from paying the rent) such as having more than the allowed number of people living in the 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—they're provided with a notice to quit. In each of these circumstances, the reason behind evicting a tenant in California cannot be discriminatory, and notice must be given.

Serving An Eviction Notice In California

According to landlord-tenant laws, you should only serve eviction notices to tenants who have valid leases 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.

notice of non renewal

In situations with no rent control, when you have a tenant who has stayed past their time and you want to evict them, it's important that you do not take any rent from them, as this can form an unintended landlord-tenant relationship that complicates eviction proceedings.

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 they don't leave, eviction procedures can follow. 

You do not have to give them a notice in practice once a fixed-term lease has come to its end, though most landlords give 30-to-60-day notices of non-renewal. 

There's no law stating you have to give notice, 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, they may not know they have to leave, and they will remain in your 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

rent grace periods

In California, there are no official grace period laws, 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 landlords are 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. 

It is recommended to act as though your leases have grace periods on late rent for three days—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 common standards. 

Notice to Vacate Vs Notice of Non-Renewal

Some landlords are confused about the difference between notices of non-renewal and notices of rental termination. 

In a fixed-term lease, you 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, you have to give written notice of the end of their rental agreement. 

Eviction Laws & Renters Protection In California: Final Thoughts

Many 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 California 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.

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