Eviction Notices and Procedures in California. The only way a landlord can legally evict a tenant in California is by filing an eviction lawsuit with the court and receiving a court order allowing the eviction to occur. Before filing the eviction lawsuit, the landlord must first give the tenant notice that the tenant did something wrong and that an eviction may occur. The landlord must follow specific rules as to how and when the tenant is given notice.
As soon as rent is late, a landlord can give a tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. The notice must state that the tenant has three days to pay rent or move out of the rental unit. If the tenant does not pay rent or move within the three-day period, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit with the court.
Eviction lawsuits, also called unlawful detainer suits, are filed in the superior court of the county in which the rental property is located. To begin the lawsuit, the landlord must file a complaint and summons (official government forms) with the court. The complaint is where the landlord states the facts that justify the eviction and asks the court to order the tenant out and to enter a judgment against the tenant for unpaid rent and other costs. The summons is a notice from the court telling the tenant that he or she must file a written response to the court within a set amount of time or lose the lawsuit,
The court will set a date for a trial before a judge, and then the tenant will receive a copy of the filed complaint and summons, along with the date and time of the trial. If the tenant wishes to challenge the eviction, the tenant will have five days from the day the tenant received the summons to file an answer or other written response with the court. Then the tenant must attend the trial before the judge. If the tenant does not attend, the judge will likely rule in the landlord’s favor. At the trial, the judge will listen to both the tenant and the landlord and come to a final decision regarding the eviction.
The tenant may find that challenging the eviction is not always the best option. The tenant might have to pay the landlord’s court and attorney’s fees if unsuccessful in court. The tenant could also receive a negative credit rating and could be turned down for future housing. The best option for the tenant might be to try to talk to the landlord and negotiate a deal outside the court system.