California Eviction Laws
In order for a Landlord to begin the eviction process, California law requires all persons residing in the property to be served with a Notice. If preparation or service of the notice is done incorrectly or not at all and the tenant raises it as a defense, the Court will dismiss the Landlord's complaint due to a procedural defect and the tenant will prevail at Court.
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Eviction Laws in California: Types of Notices
30, 60 or 90-day Eviction Notices
A landlord who wants to terminate (end) a month-to-month tenancy can do so by properly serving a written eviction notice of 30, 60 or 90 days on the tenant. Generally, a 30 or 60 day notice doesn't have to state the landlord's reason for ending the tenancy.
3-day Notices to Evict
A landlord can use a written 3-day notice (eviction notice) if the tenant has done any of the following:
- Failed to pay the rent.
- Violated any provision of the lease or rental agreement.
- Materially damaged the rental property ("committed waste").
- Substantially interfered with other tenants ("committed a nuisance").
- Used the rental property for an unlawful purpose, such as selling illegal drugs.
California Eviction Laws: Legal Measures to Evict Tenants
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 self-help measures to force the tenant to move. For example, California Eviction Laws state the landlord cannot physically remove or lock out the tenant, cut off utilities such as water or electricity, remove outside windows or doors, or seize (take) the tenant's belongings 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.
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Courts Enforce Your Rights to Eviction Laws in CA
Your Day in Court
Before appearing in court, Express Evictions can help you carefully prepare your case. Among other things, we will help you with:
- Deciding how you will present the facts that support your side of the case - whether by witnesses, letters, other documents, photographs or video, or other evidence.
- Requiring you to bring at least four copies of all documents that you intend to use as evidence - an original for the judge, a copy for the opposing party, a copy for yourself, and copies for your witnesses.
- Arrange for and help you prepare your witnesses that will testify at the trial. You can subpoena a witness who will not testify voluntarily. A subpoena is an order from the court for a witness to appear. The subpoena must be served on (handed to) the witness, and can be served by anyone but you who is over the age of 18. You can obtain a subpoena from the Clerk of the Court. You must pay witness fees at the time the subpoena is served on the witness, if the witness requests them.
Jury vs. Non-Jury Trials
The parties to an unlawful detainer lawsuit have the right to a jury trial, and either party can request one. When your Unlawful Detainer Complaint is filed with the Superior Court, you have the option of requesting a jury trial or a non-jury trial. A non-jury trial is referred to as a "bench trial" and a judge will preside over the proceedings. In deciding to choose a non-jury trial, you are giving up your right to a jury trial. The court will then send the parties a document called a Memorandum to Set Case for Trial (called an "At-Issue Memorandum" or a "Memo to Set" in some counties). This document will provide notice to your tenant(s) informing them of whether you have requested a jury trial.
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Most Unlawful Detainer Cases use the "Bench Trial" Method.
Most unlawful detainer cases are tried using the "bench trial" method. There are several good reasons for this: first, presenting a case to a jury is more complex than presenting a case to a judge, and a nonlawyer representing himself or herself may find it very difficult; second, the party requesting a jury trial will be responsible for depositing the initial cost of jury fees with the court; and third, the losing party will have to pay all of the jury costs.
Have more questions about California Eviction Laws or Evicting a Tenant? Contact the Eviction experts at Express Evictions today!