Problem tenants that violate the lease or do not pay rent need to be evicted.
I recommend trying to speak with the tenant face to face, and working it out among yourself before filing an unlawful detainer (fancy name for eviction lawsuit). Tell your tenant “when you did/do ______, you are in violation of the lease. You have X days to find a new place, pack up your things and move out. Otherwise I will contact my eviction attorney and begin an eviction. An eviction goes on your credit report for seven years and it will be hard for you to find a new place to live- I’d like to avoid that so hopefully we can solve this problem ourselves without the need for an eviction.”
If the tenant doesn’t voluntarily vacate the unit the first step to begin an eviction is posting written notice. **WARNING** If you have never posted a notice before I strongly recommend hiring an eviction attorney to do it for you. These notices have very specific information that must be included on them and if you make a mistake, you will have served a defective notice which will not stand up in court. Some examples of common mistakes on 3 day notices are putting late fees as money owed- you can only put the rent. Another mistake is not filling out the business hours and times that rent can be delivered.
There are two different types of notices; notices that are correctable (such as pay rent or remedy breach) and non-correctable (landlord is moving into a unit, notification of termination of tenancy, or property is being demolished). For eviction notices that are correctable, the law requires 3 day notice. If the notice is not correctable, then a 30-day or 60-day is required.
3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit Form – Tenant has not paid rent when rent is due.
3 Day Notice to Remedy Breach– tenant has breached the lease (example: lease says ‘no pets’ and now tenant has a pet, the tenant has subleased their apartment without authorization, unauthorized storage), damaged the property, has been a serious nuisance to other tenants or neighbors (creating loud noise, throwing parties), using the rental for illegal purposes such as selling drugs, tenant who has no lease or is on month to month lease and refuses to sign a 1 year lease.
30 Day Notice to Vacate– Landlords giving tenant notice to end month to month lease. (if the Property is for sale, is a house or condo, and is in escrow, a 30 day notice to vacate may be used instead of 60 day).
60 Day Notice to Vacate– Landlord giving tenant notice to end month to month lease where the tenant has rented the property for a year or more.
An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a “summary” court procedure. This means that the court action moves forward very quickly, and that the time given the tenant to respond during the lawsuit is very short.
Evictions work differently for rent control properties versus non rent controlled properties. The main difference is rent control properties require JUST CAUSE evictions. With a non rent controlled property you can terminate a month to month tenancy at any time with proper notice for any reason. For Los Angeles rent control your eviction must comply with one of the 12 legal reasons for eviction.
For properties under Los Angeles Rent Control, The following reasons for eviction require that a landlord to file an additional “Landlord Declaration of Intent to Evict” form with the LAHD:
#3 – Nuisance, related to illegal drug or gang activity
#4 – Illegal purpose, related to illegal drug or gang activity
#8 – Owner, family member, or resident manager’s occupancy
#10 – Permanent removal & Demolition
#11 – To comply with a governmental order
#12 – HUD eviction
The Notice must be properly served to the tenant. Methods to Serve notice are:
- Personally deliver (how have someone over the age of 18 deliver) notice to the tenant + send it to them via certified mail
- Send notice via certified mail + post notice on their door (take a dated picture of the posted notice for your records at the time of posting)
When the time period of your notice is expired, you may file an unlawful detainer lawsuit with the civil court. The filing fee for an unlawful detainer varies from $250-$400.
Hire an eviction attorney! They cost $600-$1,000 and are worth every cent. Your eviction attorney can file the unlawful detainer and make sure your 3 day notice is not defective. Unlawful Detainer usually take 8-10 weeks to get a ruling if they are uncontested and 12-14 weeks if they are contested. 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 a default judgement.
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, if you are relying on someone elses testimony make sure they appear- your testimony of speaking in their words can be ruled out as heresay. Most importantly let your lawyer handle the proceedings and show up early the day of the trial, you case might be bumped and you don’t want to miss it.
The sheriff is the only person who may legally remove a tenant from a their rental. It may be tempting as landlord to try to physically remove the tenant yourself- or change the locks, cut off the utilities, or remove their front door. If you try a strong armed tactic like this, the tenant can file a complaint and you may find yourself in hot water. Let the eviction attorney and sheriff handle the eviction- if the tenant wants to fight with the sheriff, they will be resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
As the landlord who has won an eviction case, the court will order the sheriff to take possession of the rental. The sheriff will post a 5 day notice to move out on the tenant’s door. During this time the tenant can voluntarily leave. After 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 immediately with your locksmith and regain possession of the unit. Any of the tenants belongings that are left behind may immediately be moved into storage. If the tenant does not show up to collect their belongings, you can have them declared abandoned.