(Photo by bigwavephoto/Creative Commons)
If a tenant doesn’t pay the rent, does something illegal or violates terms of the lease, you can start an eviction process with a 3-day notice. But what if you want a tenant to move out but he hasn’t done anything wrong on your property? For example, you have just decided that this tenant is too time consuming or problematic.
One of the few recourses for eviction in California, short of wrongdoing on the part of the tenant, is if the rental agreement is month-to-month, meaning that they are not in the middle of a term lease such as a 1 or 2 year lease and the tenant has lived in the property for less than one year you can serve a 30-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy or if the tenancy has lasted more than a year you will need serve a 60-day Notice to Terminate Tenancy. The only difference between the two notices is whether the tenant has lived in the property either less than or more than 1 year. It makes no difference how long the owner of the property has been the owner. For example, if you buy a house or apartment building then the tenant has only been your tenant for 6 months.
Such notices do not need to state the reason for the impending termination of the lease (in most areas of the state). But many landlords do have reasons they want tenants to move out. If a tenant wants to stay, it might be worthwhile to ask what reason the landlord has for the eviction and inquire whether he, the tenant, can make things right.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs website has an article about evictions and says about cases where landlords allow tenants to stay after serving a 30-day or 60-day notice:
“If your landlord agrees that you can continue to occupy the rental unit, it’s important that your agreement with the landlord be in writing. The written agreement might be an attachment to your lease or rental agreement that both the landlord and you sign, or an exchange of letters between you and the landlord that states the details of your agreement. Having the agreement in writing ensures that you and your landlord are clear about your future relationship”.
“If the landlord doesn’t agree to your staying, you will have to move out and vacate the rental unit. You should do so by the end of the 30th or 60th day. Take all of your personal belongings with you, and leave the rental property at least as clean as when you rented it. This will help with the refund of your security deposit.
“If you have haven’t moved at the end of the 30th or 60th day, you will be unlawfully detaining occupying the rental unit, and the landlord can file an unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit to evict you.”
The notice to vacate, also known as the Notice to Quit the premises must be given in writing pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 1162. There are some exceptions to when it can be applied, including in some rent-control cities. In some of these communities, just cause for eviction is required, and the landlord must give a reason. The same thing applies for subsidized housing programs, which may limit reasons for eviction.
A landlord may not evict a tenant for the reason that a water heater is braced to protect against earthquakes. He or she also cannot evict to retaliate or to discriminate.
Retaliation, though, is different from evictions for cause, which can be initiated with a 3-day notice. In addition to failing to pay the rent or violating the lease, justifiable causes include:
- Damaging the rental property, which is known as committing waste.
- Committing a nuisance with or substantially interfering with other tenants.
- Perpetrating domestic violence or sexual assault or stalking against another tenant or subtenant on the landlord’s property.
- Using the property for any illegal purposes.
- Dealing or using drugs or cultivating, importing or manufacturing illegal drugs.
- Using the property or any part of the buildings or grounds for dog-fighting or cock-fighting.
- Using weapons or ammunition unlawfully.
To make the notice to evict in 3, 30 or 60 days legally effective, the notice must be served to the tenant pursuant to (CCP 1162). There are a few ways to do this for a 3-day notice to evict:
- Personal service, in which the person serving the notice hands the notice directly to the tenant or leaves it with him if he refuses to accept it. Note: The 3-day notice begins after the tenant receives the notice.
- Substituted service on another person, in which the person serving the notice leaves it with a person of “suitable age and discretion” at the tenant’s home or workplace. A suitable person includes an adult in your home or work or a teen member of your household. The landlord or person serving the notice should also try to find the tenant at work as well as at home. If a landlord uses this route of substituted service, he must also mail a copy of the notice to the tenant at his home.
- Posting and mailing. If the landlord or his agent can’t find you to serve the notice personally, the eviction notice can be taped or tacked to the rental unit in a conspicuous place. That includes the front door of an apartment or house, for example. A second copy must also be mailed to the tenant at the rental unit’s address. Please note: Service of the notice is not complete until a copy has been mailed. The 3-day period before eviction begins the day after posting and mailing of the notice.
For a 30-day or 60-day notice, you can use any of these ways, or you can simply post the notice by certified or registered mail with a return receipt.
Express Evictions has its own Registered Process Servers on staff and we contract with process servers throughout the entire state who act on landlords’ behalf to properly and legally notify tenants when they are required to move out. In addition, we can take an eviction case through the court process. See for our list of services.
It’s important for both landlord and tenants to know that only a sheriff can evict someone. A tenant has protections from vindictive or unfair landlords. A landlord can’t lock a tenant out of a rental unit or cut off or turn off water or electricity or any other utility, even internet, TV or WiFi..
For landlords, if they have a tenant who is not paying the rent or is engaging in illegal behavior on the property, they have recourse to the 3-day eviction notice, as stated. If the tenant refuses to leave after being properly served with the notice, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer with the court to initiate a forced eviction.
Even the Santa Clara County Superior Court advises parties involved in unlawful detainer cases to see an attorney. The laws can be complicated and technical.
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, gathering evidence of tenants’ failure to pay rent or other malfeasance, and testifying at an eviction hearing in a court of law.
For help serving a 30 or 60 notice to evict, contact us today.