WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF LANDLORDS TO EVICT TENANTS?
Landlords do have a right to evict tenants under legal qualifications such as tenants who fail to pay rent, damage the property, act in breach of the agreement, etc. Landlords can only exercise their right to evict through a lawsuit.
So, you’re wondering:
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF LANDLORDS TO EVICT TENANTS?
In order to understand what are the rights of landlords to evict a tenant, it is best to first understand the eviction process.
The eviction process isn’t necessarily easy or quick.
The only way you, as the landlord, can evict a tenant is to file a lawsuit. This lawsuit process is also referred to as an Unlawful Detainer Action. A process that can take up to a month to finalize.
Fortunately, in California, if you being an eviction lawsuit to the court, your lawsuit is often prioritized above other non-criminal legal matters.
So, let’s understand the steps of the eviction process so we can then understand what are the rights of landlords to evict tenants.
Step One: Ensure you have valid legal reasons for evicting your tenant
You must have valid legal grounds warranting the eviction such as your tenant:
- Fails to pay the agreed upon rental fees
- Acts in breach of the rental agreement
- Devalues your property such as damaging and failure to fix those damages
- Becomes a nuisance to the community and fails to correct their behavior
- Fails to leave the property once the agreement has lapsed
- Uses the property for any illegal activity or anything other than that in the agreement
If your tenant is guilty of any of the above, you may now be wondering:
What are the rights of landlords to evict tenants?
The landlord does not have the right to resort to extreme measures such as changing the locks on the doors, removing the locks, cutting off their access to utilities and/or threatening the tenant.
Any of these actions can and will result in a lawsuit against you.
Your rights, as the landlord, are to now follow the Unlawful Detainer Process to have your tenant(s) legally removed from your property.
Step Two: Serve the tenant with an appropriate notice
Before pursuing legal action, it is advised to try and resolve the issue with your tenant first.
A peaceful resolution can save both you and the tenant time, money and stress.
If you fail to resolve it without legal action, then proceed to serve your tenant with an appropriate notice.
An appropriate notice consists of:
- The legal issue being addressed
- A reasonable amount of time to correct the issue
- If fail to do so, eviction process with go forward
- The date in which the demand was served to the tenant
- The tenant’s full information
- The total of outstanding fees (if any)
- Proof of service
- The landlord’s (your) signature
It is likely that your tenant will deny receiving the notice and therefore prudent that you take special care when serving this notice.
Take a witness, have them sign a proof of service, etc.
Step Three: Wait for the notice time to lapse
You must provide the tenant a sufficient amount of time in which they can attempt to remedy the situation.
Three days to pay the late rental fees
If the tenant fails to remedy the situation in the time provided in the notice, you may proceed with the lawsuit.
Step Four: File all legal documentation with the court
To successfully file and proceed with an Unlawful Detainer Action, you must ensure that you file the necessary documents with the court.
The courthouse in which you file the Unlawful Detainer Complaint and the Civil Case Cover Sheet forms to has the jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit.
The courthouse must be in the county where the property is.
If the person staying on the property isn’t on the rental agreement, you will also need to fill out the Prejudgement Right of Possession form.
It is illegal to evict someone who is not named in the complaint and as such this person will need to be served with the form plus a copy of the complaint and summons.
Step Five: Serve the legal documents to the tenant
Both the summons and the complaint must be properly served to the tenant.
This means that you cannot leave the summons on their doorstep.
You must obtain proof of service and then file that proof of service at the courthouse.
Step Six: Provide the tenant time to respond
Similar to most lawsuits, the respondent must be afforded response time.
This means that the tenant must be given time to challenge the lawsuit.
But, if the tenant fails to respond within 5 business days, you, the landlord, can then request for a default judgement made against your tenant.
Step Seven: Court process
Either party can request trial. A trial date can be set within 10 to 20 days of the request.
During this time, you cannot accept any rent from your tenant.
If the court rules in your favor, you will then be issued with a Writ of Possession.
Your tenant will have 5 days after the ruling to evict your property. If the tenant fails to do so your Writ of Possession gives the Sheriff the power to then physically lock the tenant out of the property.
That is the complete seven steps to evicting a tenant. Each step provides what are the rights of landlords to evict tenants and what you, as the landlord cannot do.
The eviction process is exhausting and like many you may ultimately decide it isn’t worth the hassle to own a rental for the possibility of having to go through this.
If that sounds like you and you’re thinking, “I want to sell my house fast ” you’re in luck!