Evictions from Two Perspectives

Unlawful detainer actions and evictions

Evictions are also referred to as unlawful detainer actions. These actions are the process through which a tenant can be removed from either residential or commercial property for non-payment of rent or other specific reasons defined under California landlord/tenant laws. Whether you are a property owner or a renter, the law provides procedures that guide resolution of eviction cases and protect both tenant’s and client’s rights.

Following Landlord Procedures in Evictions

A landlord can’t begin an eviction lawsuit without first legally terminating the tenancy. This means giving the tenant written notice, as specified in the state’s termination statute. If the tenant doesn’t move (or “reform” in some manner, such as paying the rent or removing the pet from the premises), landlords can then file a lawsuit to evict. Legally, these termination notices are called an unlawful detainer, or UD, lawsuit. Although terminology varies somewhat from state to state, there are typically three types of termination notices used by landlords to terminate a tenancy due to some type of tenant misbehavior. They are: pay rent or quit notices, cure or quit notices, unconditional quit notices.

If the tenant has not done anything wrong, landlords may usually use a 30-Day or 60-Day Notice to Vacate to end a month-to-month tenancy. Cities with rent control may not allow this. They require the landlord to prove a legally recognized reason for eviction (“just cause”) of tenants.

Tenants Rights in Evictions

If the tenant doesn’t voluntarily move out after the landlord has properly given the required notice to the tenant, the landlord can evict the tenant. In order to evict the tenant, the landlord must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in superior court.

The court-administered eviction process assures the tenant of the right to a court hearing if the tenant believes that the landlord has no right to evict the tenant. The landlord must use this court process to evict the tenant; the landlord cannot use physical measures to force the tenant to move. For example, the landlord cannot remove or change door locks, cut off utilities such as water or electricity, block access to the property, remove the tenant’s property in order to carry out the eviction. The landlord must use the court procedures.

If the landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, the landlord may be subject to liability for the tenant’s damages, as well as penalties of up to $100 per day for the time that the landlord used the unlawful methods.

DiJulio Law Group