One of the more unpleasant parts of rental property ownership and management is handling an eviction. You will certainly be losing money, in the cost of legal fees, and the loss of rent- while your unit is tied up in the proceedings- however, when you have a problem tenant sometimes there is no choice but to evict.
Los Angeles rent control strictly regulates the legal reasons a tenant may be evicted.
-If the tenant has failed to pay rent
-If the tenant has breached the lease
-Damaged the Property
-Used the property to carry out illegal activities
-or any of the other Rent Stabilization Ordnance 12 legal reasons for eviction
The first step to any eviction is posting written notice to the tenant. There are specific posting requirements http://www.evict123.com/serving.html . The timeline of the notice depends on what is the reason for the eviction. In the instance where the tenant has failed to pay rent, you may use a “Three (3) Day Notice to pay or Quit” and in the case where a tenant was violating the lease, such as being a serious nuisance and disturbing other tenants you may post a “Three (3) Day Notice to Perform or Quit”. If the notice is not correctable, then a 30-day or 60-day or 90-day notice is used. If you have already filed your 30 or 60 day notice with LA HUD while complying with RSO, then once that time line has elapsed you may immediately move to the next step of the eviction process: filing an unlawful detainer.
An Unlawful Detainer is a lawsuit that is filed with the civil court. The filing fee for an unlawful detainer varies from $250 to $400 depending on the amount of damages- hiring a attorney will cost $600 or more. To file an unlawful detainer you will need to hire an eviction attorney. Unlawful Detainer usually take 30 days if they go to court and only 15 days if the unlawful detainer action is uncontested. Once an Unlawful detainer has been filed, the tenant has 5 days to respond- if they do not file an answer, they cannot appear in court, and you will win by default judgment with no trial.
The tenant may respond to the unlawful detainer by filing an “answer”. Should the tenant answer then a trial date will be set. The court clerk must schedule a trial within 20 days of request.
Eviction trials are short- they usually take less than an hour.
Prepare before going to court. Make sure you have read up on the relevant law relating to your case, have the rental agreement, payment slips, pictures, and any other evidence ready to submit. Talk with any witnesses that will collaborate your story and schedule them to testify. Perhaps even sit in on an unlawful detainer proceeding to see how the trial runs. Most importantly let your lawyer handle the proceedings and show up the day of the trial, you may want to show up early- because you may be able to reach a settlement with your tenant before the trial.
Only a sheriff may legally remove a tenant from a tenancy. It may be tempting to intimidate or try to physically remove the tenant yourself- or change the locks and lock the tenant out, cut off the utilities, or remove their front door. If you try a strong armed tactic like this, the tenant can file a complaint with rent control, and you may find yourself in hot water. Let the sheriff handle the eviction- if the tenant wants to fight with the sheriff, they will be resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, and losing their leasehold will be the least of their worries.
As the landlord who has won an eviction case, then the sheriff will post a 5 day notice to move out on the tenant’s door. 5 days from this posting the tenant must be moved out or the sheriff will come and physically remove them. This is called a lock out. When the Sheriff removes the tenant, you may change the locks with your locksmith and regain possession of the unit. Any of the tenants belongings that are left behind may immediately be moved into storage. You will have to make an itemized list of the personal property. The tenant must have access to retrieve his belongings. You cannot withhold the tenants belongs until they pay back rent. If the tenant does not show up to get his belongings, you can begin the process of having his belongings declared abandoned.
Evictions appear on credit reports. Tenants with an eviction on their credit report have a black mark on their record. These tenants with an eviction history will have difficulty finding a new place to rent. An eviction case becomes public record 60 days after the ruling.
Here is a list of forms:
lawful detainers should not be used where:
- A tenant wants the landlord to fix something in the apartment;
- A tenant moved out but still owes the landlord for unpaid rent or damages;
- There are disputes about fraud in the property’s ownership; or
- There is a dispute about the security deposit after the tenant moves out.
Most of these cases, except for those involving property ownership disputes, are handled in small claims court.