If you are a landlord in Westminster, chances are that sooner or later you will need to call on the help of a Westminster eviction lawyer and serve an eviction notice. Though this is the last thing you may want to have to do, it can be a reality of property ownership in this area. Recent statistics show that as many as one in every 33 rented households faced eviction in Westminster, putting it in ninth place for the most evictions in any large metropolitan area in the US.
Our guide below will provide you with the information you need to make it easier to carry out the eviction process successfully. Armed with an understanding of how eviction works, and the professional legal counsel of your Westminster eviction lawyer, you’ll be able to go through the eviction process smoothly and efficiently, allowing you to get back to renting your property as soon as possible.
The eviction process for California begins with the landlord issuing notice to their tenants. If the tenant does not move out on their own, you will then have the right to evict them. To initiate the eviction, you must file an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit in Superior Court. This will trigger an eviction lawsuit, in which you are the plaintiff and the tenant is the defendant.
You must allow the law to take its course – you are not permitted to try to remove the tenant yourself. This includes changing the locks or removing their belongings! Your Westminster eviction attorney will guide you through this process, which often happens very quickly. Your tenant will normally have just five days to respond to the lawsuit after being served with a copy of the Summons and Complaint. It should take just 20 days for the judge to hear your case in court.
The eviction notice is what starts off the whole legal process. If you do not serve an eviction notice in Westminster, you may find that your legal right to remove the tenants from your property is diluted. This ensures a fair process whereby the rights of your tenants are also protected.
There are certain rules about what you can, must, and should not include in your eviction notice. This will change depending on what kind of property you are renting out, how long the tenant has been there, and how much notice you need to give them. It can get complicated if you are not sure about your situation. It is important to follow the regulations closely as failure to do so could result in your tenants being given extra time to pay their rent or not having to leave at all. You may even have to start the eviction process again from scratch to reassert your legal rights.
If your Westminster tenants are behind on their rent, you have the right as the property owner to have them removed from your property. This must be done in the correct way, however, starting with a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
The difficulty lies in figuring out when to serve the notice and how the three days are calculated. Let’s imagine that your tenant is required to pay rent on the first day of the month. If they fail to do so, you could serve their 3-day notice on the second day. However, this does not apply if the second day is a Saturday, Sunday, or Court holiday. You must wait for the first business day after which their rent is late. In the most extreme scenario, with a Saturday, then a Sunday, then a holiday Monday, you would not be able to serve notice until the fifth day!
Your notice must include the rent only. Even if your tenants are behind on other payments, such as utilities, you cannot add these to the notice.
The three days that your tenant has to pay their rent starts the day after your notice is served. So, with a notice served on the fifth, they would have all the way through the eighth to pay up.
Your notice must include the following details:
- The full amount of rent owed
- The name, address, and telephone number of the person to be paid
- Details of how to pay the rent – e.g. the address of a financial institution, or the availability of a person to whom the rent must be paid in person
You may also issue a 3 Day Notice if your tenant has broken the terms of your rental agreement in some other way. In this instance, you must give the tenant the opportunity to correct their violation within the three-day term.
Any landlord who wants to terminate a tenancy which is paid month to month can issue a 30 Day Notice to Vacate or Quit. This only applies, however, if the tenant has been living in the property for less than one year. Any longer and a 60 Day Notice applies instead.
Under the California laws which apply in Westminster, the notice must be served in written form. As the landlord, you do not have to give a reason for wanting to break the lease. It is enough to say that you want it to end.
However, one thing that you do have to be careful of is accepting any rent payments after the notice has been served. This could invalidate your notice period. In the event that your tenant does make a payment, make sure to return it as soon as possible.
Note that you cannot use this method to terminate a fixed-term lease or any lease that is agreed on with a term of longer than a month.
You are still subject to eviction laws, which apply to the whole of Westminster, which means you cannot choose to evict a tenant for a reason which is retaliatory or discriminatory. Do be aware of this if you have recently had any kind of dispute with your tenants as they may try to prove this in a court case against you.
When calculating the 30-day period, start from the day after you serve the notice. Count weekends, but if the 30th day falls on a weekend, your tenant will have until the next business day to vacate the premises.
Much like the 30 Day Notice to Vacate or Quit, the 60 Day Notice gives the tenant a fixed period of time to leave the property. Your Westminster eviction attorney will advise that this is the period of notice you must give by law if the tenant has been renting your property for more than a year.
It may be possible to shorten the term to 30 days even in this case, but only if the following exceptions apply:
- The dwelling or unit that you are leasing is separate from the title for another dwelling or unit
- You are selling the dwelling or unit to a genuine purchaser and the sale has now been agreed
- The purchaser genuinely intends to live in the property for at least a year after the sale has been agreed
- You issue the notice less than 120 days after the funds have been placed in escrow
Just like with the 30 Day Notice, you start counting the period from the day after the notice has been served and include all weekends. However, if necessary, the notice period will be extended to ensure that it ends on a business day.
Government-subsidized tenancies, which usually apply under section 8, require all landlords to give a 90-day notice period. This helps to ensure that the most at-risk tenants are protected under Westminster law.
During this period, you are not permitted to raise the rent at all. Any changes must occur after the 90 days are up.
As with other notice period options, you need to be clear about when the period will begin and end. It does not start on the day that you issue the notice, but rather the day after. Unlike with a three-day notice, weekends do count within the term. However, if the period is due to expire on a weekend, you must allow your tenants time until the next business day to vacate the property. If they do not do so, they are in violation of the law and you can take the next steps to remove them with your Westminster eviction lawyer.
It is extremely important that you file an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit in Westminster rather than taking matters into your own hands. If it is found that you have removed possessions, changed locks, or used another method to try to force your tenants out, you will be held liable for any damage to your tenant’s possessions. You could even face a fine of $200 per day for each day that you take this kind of unlawful activity.
Ask your Westminster eviction attorney to file an Unlawful Detainer on your behalf. In around half the cases served in Westminster, the tenant does not respond to the lawsuit. This means that the case is uncontested and the tenant will be served with a 5-Day Notice to Vacate by the Sheriff. This will be posted on the front door of the property so you can see it easily yourself if you wish to verify that it has been served.
It is important that you have a Westminster eviction lawyer guide you through the process of residential evictions as there are many laws and clauses that need to be observed. It can sometimes become confusing if you are not already aware of the ins and outs of the law.
Make sure to respect the rights of your tenants during the eviction process. While you do obviously want to move the process on in order to continue making a return on your investment, you must still follow the correct legal procedures. If you try to force your tenants out early, not only will you lose the right to the eviction period, but you may also face fines or even legal charges.
Commercial evictions are tough to deal with. You may be under additional pressure due to the fact that your tenants may lose their business after you have evicted them. However, you have to put your own business first. If you are not getting paid, you should enlist a Westminster eviction lawyer to help you navigate the situation.
If your commercial tenant pays the rent in full within their eviction notice period, then the eviction is off and you must allow them to stay. If they only manage to pay a partial amount, however, you can still expect them to leave.
This can get complicated when it comes to the court proceedings. You must make it clear that partial payment will not be enough to get you to change your mind about evicting them when you serve the notice. If you do receive partial payment during the eviction period, you will want to update the total amount that your tenant owes in your court complaint to acknowledge this.
No matter what notice period you give your tenant – whether three days, five days, 30 or even more – you should clearly state the reasonable amount of rent that you expect to be paid.
You should submit an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit if you are owed rent, or the tenant has broken the terms of their lease in some other way, just as you would with a residential tenant.
These are the three courts where evictions are handled in Westminster:
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF ORANGE – Westminster Court
8141 13TH STREET
Westminister, CA 92683
If you are looking for a Westminster eviction lawyer, make sure to contact us today to make the process easier for yourself and to avoid any legal mistakes.