Landlords, Don’t Make These Eviction Mistakes

If you rent out or lease property to others, sooner or later you are very likely to be in situations where you have to evict a tenant for one reason or another, usually nonpayment of rent. It’s a matter of when, not if you will have to evict. This article will explain how to avoid eviction mistakes, so your rental property is making money as much of the time as possible.

Rental Income

Evicting a tenant can be unpleasant, costly and time-consuming. But it’s worth it to spend the money on evictions so your property can start generating income again. After all, you want to make money on your rental property, not lose money, of course, that’s why it’s call an income property. If you hire a good eviction attorney, you can avoid the hassles of doing time-consuming eviction process altogether and get your rental unit back to being an income property and not an income losing property quickly.

Filing an Eviction aka Unlawful Detainer is the only way to get your property back if someone stops paying rent, commits a nuisance on the property or other illegal activity such as selling drugs on premises, violates conditions of the lease or damages your property.

In California, as in all states, state law sets out how an eviction will proceed. There are notices to be served, documents to be filed at the courthouse, collection of evidence, testimony in a trial if it comes to that. And it must all be done exactly according to California state law which are known as the Unlawful Detainer Statutes.

If you don’t follow the law exactly as required, you may have to start the eviction process all over again and possibly even have to go back to court for an eviction trial. That means your property would be not be profitable for an even longer time. It pays to either do it right the first time yourself or be certain to get it right by letting a good lawyer handle the eviction.

If you want to do it on your own, we will delineate some common mistakes landlords make their first time trying to evict a tenant on there on or in Pro Per. If you do everything according to law and avoid these mistakes you can get your bum of a tenant out and get a new, good tenant in.

There are ways to get good tenants to minimize the number of evictions you have to do. We published a blog posting on how to keep your property profitable as much of the time as possible. Read “Keys to Finding Good Tenants and Avoiding Bad Ones” to learn ways to make your property a source of steady income.

Eviction by illegal methods (Self Help Evictions)

You might be tempted to use coercion or intimidation to get a tenant out. You might want to try to make it too miserable for the tenant to live there instead of evicting using the legal method. We highly recommend against this. When a landlord tries to evict on his own, outside legal boundaries, it’s called self-help or self-directed eviction.

Any eviction method you use outside the California statutes may come back to cause you a lot of trouble later.

Here are some methods some landlords try that they should NOT:

  • Cutting the utilities so the tenant doesn’t have hot water, gas or electricity. Also you cannot cut any service to the property, even cable tv or internet.
  • Changing the locks so the tenant’s keys don’t work, locking the tenants out of the rental unit.

Changing the Locks

  • Removing windows or doors.
  • Throwing the tenant’s belongings in the garbage or hiding them somewhere
  • Harassment or intimidation of the tenant in an attempt to get them to move out

These types of tactics are all illegal and against the law and are bad eviction mistakes. As the landlord, you can also be arrested for some or all of these types of activities. Using these illegal or any other methods outside the law to force a tenant to vacate amount to criminal behavior. It’s a crime to force a tenant out unless you do it according to the state of California’s lawful eviction process.

If you get them to move out by illegal methods, they can file a complaint with the authorities or file a lawsuit for damages against you. This is true even if the tenant was not paying the rent. You still have to follow the eviction laws even if the tenant is not paying you.

As it says on our Unlawful Detainer page

“If a landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, the landlord may be subject to civil liability to the tenant for their damages, as well as penalties of $100 per day or more for the time that the landlord used the unlawful methods.”

It is possible that illegal self-help eviction methods could cause conflict and even escalate into an ugly situation that could get violent. It has happened in U.S. history that eviction conflicts have resulted in deaths of tenants and landlords. Do not take the law into your own hands and risk your life or risk hurting a tenant, which could result in prison time.

That said, a judge will almost certainly rule in your favor in an eviction process if you give sufficient proof that the tenant is not paying or is violating the lease in other ways. California is a tenant-friendly state, but the lease agreement the tenant signed affords you, the landlord, certain protections too.

When you do an eviction by the legal method, the court will order the sheriff to lockout the tenant from the property and put you back in possession of the property. If you can get a judge to issue an order of eviction, you are following the law protected from claims of legal or even physical harm from happening to you or the tenant.

Failing to give proper notice

The first thing you will need to do write up and serve an Eviction Notice, this is usually a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit and serve it on the tenant(s). If you fail to give proper notice that you are seeking to evict a tenant, your case can’t go forward.

This notice informs the tenant that you are going to start an eviction process, and it tells the tenant the reason that you are evicting him. Our website gives full details on Notice to Quit and other types of notices landlords file. Our website states:

“A 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit California Eviction Notice is used to give any tenant notice that they owe rent for a certain period of time and they must either pay the rent due within 3 days or quit (vacate) the property within 3 days. If the tenant does not comply with the notice, an Unlawful Detainer action will have to be filed so that the owner may regain possession of the property. If the tenant chooses to vacate the property within the three days, the owner can still file a small claims complaint against the tenant for the unpaid rent and other monies due. This 3-Day Eviction Notice is usually served on a tenant after the rent has become past due in paying the rent according to the rental agreement; usually rent is due on the first day of the month and delinquent on the second day. Most landlords will charge a late fee if the rent is not paid by the 3rd or the fifth of he month.”

Sometimes serving a Notice to Quit is for reasons other than the tenant is not paying the rent. Such a notice can be filed if the tenant “committed waste,” or damaged the rental property; was a nuisance or substantially interfered with other tenants right to quiet enjoyment; or used the property to sell drugs or for other illegal activities.

If you don’t give the tenants the right kind of notice to quit, your entire eviction process will be in legal jeopardy. You would have to start the process all over again if you don’t do the notice the right way the first time.

A judge could rule against you if you don’t serve the proper notice and give the tenant the full three days to pay the rent.

Judge ruling against

If you are issuing the notice because you suspect the tenant is doing something illegal or damaging the property, of course the only remedy is to evict the tenant.

Not having sufficient evidence in court

The day for trial will come when you have to appear in court for the Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit by which you will be asking the Judge for a Judgment and a Writ of Possession to evict a tenant. The trial will move quickly. Be prepared with all your documents and evidence. This will always include the Notice to Quit and the Rental Agreement. It may also include correspondence, eMails, text messages, etc. between you and the tenant.

The Trial Date is your date and time to have your trial. You will need to have all of your documents and evidence in order and ready. Having insufficient evidence is one of the big mistakes landlords make when pursuing evictions against bad tenants. A landlord can go to court and make verbal or oral claims about non-payment of rent, for example, but without bank statements the judge or jury may not be convinced. Keep in mind, it’s the Plaintiff’s burden to prove their case. The landlord is the Plaintiff. Do yourself a favor and have all the records you will need, including bank statements and tenant ledgers with you. Your case will be considered weak unless you provide the court with good evidence.

Also, if you are seeking to evict a tenant for physical damage to the rental unit, back up your claims with evidence, including photographs, videos, and bills from any contractors you hired to fix the damage. Your testimony about the damage is important, but it may be considered weak and insufficient without visual or documentary proof too.

On the day of trial, landlords should have copies of the following evidence with them for themselves, the defense and the court (the judge):

  • The lease agreement with the tenant’s signature
  • The Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, or the Notice to Quit based on another reason
  • Bank statements or tenant ledgers
  • Photographs or videos that show the damage you are claiming the tenant caused
  • Any written correspondence or communication between the landlord and tenant
  • Evidence from neighbors of the tenant if they lodged complaints against the tenant you are attempting to evict

If you come to court without the right paperwork or without convincing evidence of the right kind, a judge could rule against you. This will seem unfair if your charges of non-payment of rent or of property damage are true. Instead of getting the tenant out within a relatively short time, you would have to come back and start the process all over again. It can drag on for a long time.

An adverse outcome can cost money

Money Bag

When the judge and/or jury hear the unlawful detainer case at trial, of course both sides will present their case and evidence. It can be costly if the landlord loses the lawsuit because the judge could require him to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees and court costs such as filing fees. Normally, the prevailing party will be awarded attorney’s fees if there is a lease agreement containing an attorney’s fee clause.

Then, if you lose, you also have to keep this tenant who may not have been paying rent on time or not at all and/or start the entire eviction process all over again. That’s right. Unless you prove to a judge or jury with all the proper evidence that the tenant hasn’t been paying, the judge could allow a tenant who isn’t paying the rent to remain on the property. It sounds unfair, but it’s true. And it’s a major reason why landlords do themselves a favor by having a law firm like Express Evictions help them with the paper work and Unlawful Detainer process. of doing the paperwork, gathering the evidence and appearing in court on the landlord’s behalf.  Our Lawyers are experts and do it right the first time to make the eviction happen as soon as possible.

Hire the right Eviction Attorney & Law Firm

If you let Express Evictions handle the case, we get tenants to vacate property 29 days on average after the service of the summons in uncontested evictions in most jurisdictions within the State of California. The eviction process is so complicated and time-consuming, many landlords use it as a last resort. We understand this at Express Evictions.

The hassles and headaches of evicting a tenant the court process can be daunting. But you definitely want your property back and need it to generate a steady income, and one way to do this is to evict non-paying tenants as quickly as possible. Express Evictions is a law firm whose main focus is to get bad tenants evicted in a hurry. We’ve handled tens of thousands of cases and we are very good at it.

Express Evictions does evictions for a very low competitive fee that saves landlords the complicated and time-consuming process of writing up notices, serving them, filing the Unlawful Detainer in court and having the tenants served with the summons and complaint to appear in court. If your tenant contests the eviction, our attorneys will go to court with you and represent you in front of the judge.

For questions about landlord-tenant law or for help with an eviction, whether in a residential or commercial property, contact us today.


  1. // Reply

    How about for Rv space, if I pay my rent on time, the manager give me 3 days notice and the reason was my son give 1 star in review.. the owner say is bad reputation.. is legal to do it ?? I live in California LA county. Thank you.

    1. // Reply

      No a review is not illegal as long as it does not cause a conflict of interest or Slanders a landlord, also defamation of character. It is illegal to live in it RV in California and most counties unless you are the owner of the property and your building new construction. Rules and County statutes differ from County to County I am in California in the County of Fresno and our County statutes state that no RV or mobile home maybe lived in unless for the above reasons. Code enforcement will intervene and the owner of the property will get fines for even letting someone live in a RV.

    2. // Reply

      My landlord posted a 3 day notice on my door today because my boyfriend who doesn’t stay here but stays sometimes spent the night and parked in the employee parking space. I was told by the property manager that it was okay to park in the employee parking but our vehicle has to be moved before the office opened which is between 9 and 10. I received a phone call this morning as we were walking out of the door to move our car because the Maintenance man had tagged it to be towed I told her I was coming now and my boyfriend and the maintenance man Exchanged words Both using profanity with raised voice So now they are evicting me because of harassment is this okay I need to talk to someone

  2. // Reply

    What kind of evidence would be crucial to bring to the hearings if I suspect or know there are illegal drugs present, being used, and/or being sold out of the property?

  3. // Reply

    In California what happens when you serve an eviction notice, the 15 days expires, and you allow them back in to get some of their things after the 15 days? Could this cause eviction process to happen all over again?

  4. // Reply

    I believe the tenant has five days to respond to the UD that was served on him 1/29/19, but I don’t know what I need to do after the five days. Last time the tenant filed something 12 days afterwards, and the court said that was OK, because I didn’t do what I was suppose to do at the five day mark. ??

    1. // Reply

      The next part of the evictions process with the court is tricky. You will need to enter a default if the tenant does not respond or request a trial if the tenant does respond. Although the tenant has only 5-days to respond, the time for them to respond is extended up until you enter their default. You should hire our office to help you with the case as there is other legal requirement that must be met. You can call us during normal business hours at 800-491-1951.

  5. // Reply

    I have a hostile tenant. He pays on time and has a valid lease. However has has not been in compliance any if the 14 months he has lived there. I have asked him to leave. He says i must pay him equal to the rent for the remaining months of the lease, or $8,800.

    1. // Reply

      If you are in a lease then you can only get out of the lease if the tenant breaches the lease. You mentioned that the tenant is not in compliance but you have not given enough specifics for us to determine if the non-compliance is of the type and nature that would allow you to prevail in an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit. If you would like to call our office on Monday when we are open, we would be happy to discuss this with you.

    2. // Reply

      Your tenant is paying rent on time, and because YOU feel he needs to leave he should. This may be your ptoperty but its HIS home.

      I hope if you file an eviction on him he asks for a jury trial. Tenants have rightz too. and I foubt very seriously if a jury would agree with you.

      I hope he also files for criminal charges. A complaint with the fyc and damages against you for the ruckus you are creating.

      Hes not nice because youre the problem.

      People rent for many reasons and it behooves me as to why you fe you have a right to damage someones life for greed.

  6. // Reply

    I got them out under unlawful detainer but they left a huge trailer that was locked.
    I cut tbe lovk cleared out contents and took everything to the dump 1 week after the sheriff told them to leave. Am i now liable for there belongings because i didn’t wait 15 days.

  7. // Reply

    What if the tenant was locked out, but the landlord agreed to let them back in temporally. Does the landlord have to start the eviction process again. Or can they still be forced out again?
    In Ca.

    1. // Reply

      You can never use force or any self-help eviction method to evict a tenant. If you let them back in then you would have to start the process all over again from the beginning.

  8. // Reply

    I got a TOP against my landlord who is also my roommate because he cut the cord to the microwave turned off the stove tiok the propaun for the grill took any cord for any appliance and yes….cut the cord to the refrigerator..He also put his hands on me…
    The day after he was served I was sent a Calufornia quit notice to my e-mail….I thought I was supposed to be notified if he was going to do that by having that wtitten in my lease wich its not….also after reviewing mt lease it says tnat if we can’t resolve this after 14 days we need to go to mediation……he also got a TOP..on me and then served me with an unlawful detainer..
    So my question is….was being served via e-mail legal…..and do we needbto go to mediation before a trial.

  9. // Reply

    Okay in December the manager’s wife kicked out my four-year-old daughter and her babysitter about 2 weeks later my wife got locked out went to the managers to get the spare keys when the manager’s wife started verbally assaulting her using profanity slamming her door and telling her own children to go inside their rooms when my wife inquired as of why our child was not allowed on the property she claims the babysitter was not on the rental agreement and that she’s not the manager to leave her alone and that we are stupid people. She also stated that next time we pay our rent late she was going to ask the owner to evict us. We’ve been reciting at this address for over 4 years. (Our rent is due by the 1st to 3rd. A late fee applys after that we got served 3day notice on 5th i tried paying the rent with fees on the 10th of the month FYI if you ask the manager he will agree that he and I had a verbal agreement of pay no later than the 10th of each new owners (old onwer passed away not to long ago. ) thanks for the read. I have court on the 15th .

  10. // Reply

    Sorry i gave the wrong email address

  11. // Reply

    My landlord gave me a three day notice to pay rent or quit for which I paid on a Friday. The following Monday, I was issued a 60 day notice to vacate. The reason was that I was perpetually late with the rent. I have email exchanges with my landlord saying that I could be late as long as I keep her informed of the progress of getting the rent paid which I have done. Both notices were posted on my door, but were not mailed to me. I needed more time to move and the landlord agreed, though her attorney, to give me 30 more days. This came in the form of a letter from the attorney stating that the reason was that the landlord wanted to occupy the house. I live in Hayward, CA where there is a new ordinance called “Just cause for Tenant Eviction” which states that a person can be evicted if the landlord wants to move into the property. It sounds like she wants to comply with the ordinance by claiming that reason instead of the reason on the original 60 day notice which seems like it is not in compliance.

    Q1 – Don’t notices have to be mailed as well as personally delivered?
    Q2 – Can a 60 day notice be issued immediately after satisfying a 3 day notice?
    Q3 – If the reason is changed from the original 60 day notice, does that negate that notice and does the landlord have to start the process over?

    1. // Reply

      Yes, your landlord can give you a 60 day notice right after you pee on a 3 day notice. There’s no reason required in a 60-day notice unless you live in a rent-controlled area in Los Angeles.

  12. // Reply

    I was given a 60 day notice to move by my landlord, with no reason. We agreed to move and actually are moving 5 days before the last day given on the notice. Since we received the notice, our landlord has continually harrassed us, said, NOW, that we did not pay rent (we have receipts for the money orders), and has given us a 3 day notice (which was placed in our door), then a Notice To Quit was placed in our mailbox (but not mailed or served). We found the Notice to Quit Saturday and now it is Monday. We are actually moving out this coming Saturday, which we have repeatedly told the landlord. Saturday is 5 days before the date on the 60 day notice, that we previously agreed to. We were told no reason on any of the papers as to why he asked us to move. He has since said he wanted to raise the rent (he could have just told us to see if we wanted to stay and pay or move).

    We are filing an answer to his filing, but I don’t want this on my record for 7 years. We have done nothing wrong. If we file and just move out when we were already planning to move, will we really still have an eviction on our record? Help

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