Avoiding Mistakes In California Eviction Notices

If you've got a tenant who has overstayed their welcome, you're probably more than ready to begin the eviction process. But don't take this opportunity to change all the locks and block your tenant's number. Before you get started, there are a few basic mistakes you need to avoid if you want the California legal system to take your case seriously and help you evict your renter in the right way. If you're ready to get started, here are some things you should avoid doing no matter what during the eviction process. The information provided here is for general information only and should not be used as legal advice.

Avoiding Mistakes In California Eviction Notices

  1. Make Sure You Have Solid Reasons. In the state of California, along with most other states in the union, it's illegal to discriminate against tenants based on ethnicity, orientation, or gender identity. That means that if you don't agree with someone or simply don't like them, it's not grounds to evict them. Bringing personal feelings to court will not help you win your lawsuit, and it will put you on the wrong side of the law.
  2. Document, Document, Document! Even if your tenant is a horrible monster who destroys your property, harasses you daily, and makes life generally miserable, you won't get anywhere in court if you don't document all your correspondence, including texts and emails. Take pictures of all the damage and always keep records of verbal or physical harassment.
  3. Don't Change The Locks. While you might want to lock a hostile tenant out, this is actually a bad idea, especially if you've yet to post the eviction notice on your tenant's door giving them fair warning. Tampering with belongings or changing the locks to a unit will work as a count against you in a court of law. That's why you need a great lawyer by your side if you want to win your case and see justice done.
  4. Always Know Your Rights. As a landlord, you have rights in California. So do your tenants. Being knowledgeable about both sides of the dispute will help you keep things civil, legal, and fast-moving in court.

What If My Tenant Is Threatening Me?

If you feel that your life is in danger, or if you feel in any way harassed or threatened by your tenant, you need to call your lawyer immediately to figure out how to file a restraining order against your tenant as well as jumpstarting the eviction process. While you should never willfully lock a tenant out, there are always extenuating circumstances when violence or explicit threats are involved. Don't feel like you need to deal with constant verbal abuse and harassment. Talk to your lawyer immediately to figure out the best course of action to take.

Highest California Eviction Filings by County

County 2014 2015 2016
Alameda 6,000 5,544 4,857
Butte 1,012 955 916
Contra Costa 4,346 3,922 3,517
Fresno 4,796 4,614 4,492
Kern 5,098 4,793 4,703
Los Angeles 56,354 55,160 51,203
Merced 1,211 1,096 1,006
Monterey 1,047 960 922
Orange 11,305 11,321 10,816
Riverside 12,530 11,577 11,147
Sacramento 10,132 9,395 8,380
San Bernardino 14,500 13,758 13,023
San Diego 11,977 11,210 10,656
San Francisco 3,310 3,512 3,004
San Joaquin 3,799 3,781 3,527
San Mateo 1,590 1,562 1,396
Santa Barbara 1,074 1,085 1,022
Santa Clara 3,811 3,602 3,133
Solano 2,426 2,409 2,128
Sonoma 1,221 1,200 1,165
Stanislaus 2,511 2,422 2,210
Tulare 1,898 1,920 1,773
Ventura 2,406 2,445 2,278

What Happens If My Tenant Refuses To Vacate?

If your tenant won't leave or is physically incapable of leaving, there are further actions you can take with the right legal counsel. If you've already won your case to evict, you can call the Sheriff to remove the tenant. If you're still awaiting trial or if you've gotten a default judgment from the court, you may have to wait it out a little bit longer. As usual, having the right legal help will keep you from making hasty decisions about removing your tenant.

Basic Process of Eviction In The State Of California

  • Landlord serves 3-day notice asking for full payment of rent.
  • Landlord posts a 30, 60, or 90-day move-out notice.
  • Landlord files lawsuit against tenant for eviction.
  • Tenant responds-- without a response, the landlord wins the case by default.
  • 10 to 20 days after the original filing, the trial goes to court.
  • Landlord wins case.
  • Sheriff gives tenant notice of eviction.
  • If tenant does not move, sheriff locks out or forcibly removes tenant from property.

In Depth

If you're dealing with a tricky tenant, you probably want to get them as far away from your property as possible. But don't be too hasty: When it comes to evicting a tenant in the state of California, it's easy to end up making yourself legally vulnerable if you're not careful about following the correct procedure. Even if the law is technically on your side, you could end up in a costly legal battle against a disrespectful or downright psychotic tenant if you don't respect California tenant rights.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to evict your troublesome tenant quickly and without any added stress as long as you have a good lawyer to help you along the way. Don't hesitate for an instant: If you don't want to make a fatal wrong move during the eviction process, refer to our fast guide on legally evicting a tenant found right on this page. Scroll beneath this video to read it. If you don't want to waste another day dealing with problematic tenants, here are a few mistakes you need to avoid at all costs.

#1: Not Having The Right Reasons. As a landlord, you're bound by law not to discriminate when it comes to who you take into your property. That means that even if you discover that you really don't trust or like one of your tenants after they've signed the lease, it's not necessarily grounds to evict. Tenant's rights in California are there to protect people from being taken advantage of or thrown out by discriminatory landlords.

As a landlord, you're bound by law not to discriminate when it comes to who you take into your property.

This means that you need to make sure you have solid legal reasons to evict your tenant, such as a non-payment or late payment of rent, before you slap an eviction notice on their door. Don't make the same mistake that the real estate company Veritas Investments did this year, when tenants claimed they were being harassed and forced to move out just so the company could sell to wealthier tenants. Even though Veritas is a huge company and one of San Francisco's biggest landlords, they were brought to court on charges of discrimination and harassment.

#2: Not Documenting Everything. While many big-name celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Kyle McLaughlin bring in some extra cash by renting out their properties, you have to be a bit more careful in terms of who you trust. For someone without tons of money and the ability to engage in a long court battle, it can be a difficult process to evict a tenant even if they totally screwed you over.

Don't forget what happened to the landlords who had the misfortune to rent to a YouTuber who couldn't pay the rent and left a literal tub of dog feces in the basement, along with makeup and urine stains everywhere. Even though her landlords tried to go through the proper channels to evict her, the YouTube star overstayed her welcome, and left the house in total disrepair while skipping out on $6,000 in back rent. In such cases, it can be difficult to get reimbursed for even the most obvious damage if you don't document everything.

In such cases, it can be difficult to get reimbursed for even the most obvious damage if you don't document everything.

Before starting the eviction process, always be sure you have photos and texts saved to back up your claims. If you're sick of seeing your property destroyed by careless tenants, you can't wait around. Be sure to consult our thorough guide on speeding up the eviction process in California. Start now by scrolling right beneath this video to start talking with top-notch property lawyers right away.

#3: Changing Locks Or Tampering With Property. While there can be skeeviness on all sides of the renting process, that's no excuse to break personal boundaries. You don't have to be like the creepy landlords who accepted sexual favors from tenants as rental payments for years after propositioning over 250,000 female renters in order to cross a line.

If you're a landlord in California, even doing something as reasonable-seeming as changing the locks on a volatile tenant or throwing their belongings on the curb after an altercation can get you in big trouble with the law. Remember, in California, the law is usually on the side of the tenant, so you need to tread carefully.

Remember, in California, the law is usually on the side of the tenant, so you need to tread carefully.

When a tenant's union in Los Angeles went on a renter's strike due to terrible conditions in their apartment complex, including mouse infestation and water leakage, the landlords made the mistake of throwing their furniture out on the street the same day. However, even though these renters refused to pay their rent, the law was on their side, and the fact that the landlords tampered with personal belongings only made them look worse in the eyes of the California legal system.

#4: Not Knowing Your Rights. Being a good landlord means you're not just paying attention to your own rights. You should also be well versed in tenant's rights. This won't just help you deal with issues and obstacles more wisely, it could actually end up working to your advantage. When R and B legend Lauryn Hill moved into her New Jersey home in 2013, she was already fighting a tax evasion charge.

Matters only got worse when she was served an eviction notice by her landlord, citing the fact that Hill was using the property to run a business, something the space wasn't zoned for. Sometimes you can use a simple technicality like this to evict tenants legally and quickly. This isn't legal advice, and we're not lawyers, but if you're in a situation where you need to evict a tenant fast, you can't waste anymore time. Know your rights, and use them to evict your tenants wisely and without any mess.

Matters only got worse when she was served an eviction notice by her landlord, citing the fact that Hill was using the property to run a business, something the space wasn't zoned for.

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