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California Eviction Law

According to the laws governing the California evictions process, every landlord is required to serve the tenant(s) with a notice before he/she is allowed to start the eviction process. Depending on the situation, the landlord may choose to serve the tenant with a 30, 60 or 90 day notice to move out; or, in other more severe cases, a landlord may decide to issue a three-day written eviction notice.

  • 30, 60 or 90-Day Notice: In most situations involving a month-to-month lease, a landlord will serve his/her tenants with a written 30, 60 or 90-day notice to move out. In these cases, the landlord is not required to disclose a reason for terminating the agreement.
  • Three-Day Notice: A landlord is able to serve his/her tenants with a written three-day eviction notice if they failed to pay rent, violated the rental agreement or lease, disturbed any of the surrounding tenants, damaged or committed illegal acts on the property.

In California, once a landlord gives a tenant proper notice to move out, the tenant must move out voluntarily, within the stated time. If the tenant refuses to move out after the required notice has been given, the landlord can evict the tenant by filing an unlawful detainer in superior court.

California Landlords are Required to Use the Court Process

In California, all landlords are required to use the court process to evict a tenant, no matter what the circumstances are.

This law is designed to protect the rights of California tenants, ensuring they do not get evicted from their homes on unlawful grounds. All tenants have the legal right to a court hearing if they believe they should not be evicted.

Under no circumstances should a landlord take actions into his/her own hands and try to force a tenant to move out without filing an unlawful detainer. For instance, it is illegal for a landlord to:

  • Physically remove the tenants or their belongings
  • Change the locks on the doors, locking the tenants out
  • Cut off utilities including water and electricity

If a landlord uses any of the above methods instead of filing an unlawful detainer with the court, he/she may be liable for any damages incurred by the tenant.

Writ of Possession

Unlawful detainers are typically fast, only allotting the tenant(s) a short period of time to respond. In most cases, once the tenant is served with a copy of the lawsuit, he/she will only have five days to respond. And, in most cases the judge will make a decision within 20 days of the tenant’s response.

If the judge feels the landlord has a legitimate eviction claim, the court will issue a writ of possession, ordering a sheriff to remove the tenant from the property. The tenant will have five days to move out on his/her own before the sheriff steps in; however, if the tenant refuses to move within the given time frame, the sheriff will be ordered to:

  • Remove the tenants and lock them out of the home
  • Recover any belongings left behind

Compensation for Damages

If a landlord wins the eviction claim, he/she may be entitled to recover damages including:

  • Past due rent
  • Court, attorney fees
  • In certain circumstances, the landlord may be entitled to up to $600 in additional damages

Get Legal Help With Your Eviction Lawsuit

Because California eviction lawsuits can be extremely technical and follow strict guidelines, it is important to hire an experienced evictions attorney who fully understands the laws and will work tirelessly to obtain the best results for each client.


Contact California evictions attorney Barry Lee O’Connor today for more information. He has the proven track record in handling all types of eviction cases, with speed and efficiency and is standing by to help you.