California Eviction Process

For a visual representation of the California eviction process, please view our California Eviction Flowchart [pdf].

The eviction process for non-payment of rent cases generally goes as follows:

  1. The tenant fails to pay the landlord.
  2. The landlord issues a “3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.”
  3. If the tenant fails to pay within the specified time period, then an Unlawful Detainer (eviction) lawsuit is filed against the tenant.
  4. The lawsuit is served on the tenant.
  5. If the tenant fails to respond within 5 calendar days to the lawsuit, then the landlord will seek a default judgment.  If the tenant responds within the 5 days, then a court date may be set to argue the case.
  6. When your case is “won,” the proper forms will be filed and submitted to the sheriff who will forcibly remove the tenant from the property if they do not voluntarily move.
  7. Once the landlord has the property back in his possession, he can change the locks and rent the house to new tenants.

Sometimes, the tenant will try to fight the eviction and claim a habitability defense.  Ultimately, the tenant is responsible for paying the rent on time, and the landlord is responsible for maintaining a habitable environment.  The landlord will want to pay close attention to habitability issues including:

  1. Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors;
  2. Plumbing or gas facilities that conform to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, and maintained in good order;
  3. A water supply approved under pplicable law capable of producing hot and cold running water furnished through appropriate fixtures, and connected to an approved sewage system;
  4. Heating favilities conforming to applicable law at the time of installation and maintained in good order;
  5. Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment conforming with applicable law at t he time of installation and maintained in good order;
  6. Premises clean at the time of commencement of the rental agreement, free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin;
  7. Adequate garbage and rubbish receptacles;
  8. Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair;
  9. Door locks and window locks in certain circumstances.

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