California law gives a landlord the right to evict a tenant that has breached a lease agreement. Evictions, however, are rarely simple or inexpensive and thus seen as a last resort by many property managers in Sacramento. The law is very specific on how you must proceed, and if you violate those rules, then you can weaken your position, incur fines and be found liable in small-claims court.
Identify Legal Grounds for an Eviction
Under California law, you must have grounds for evictions. You cannot, for instance, simply evict someone because you don’t like them. Once identified, you must establish these grounds in order for your right to be upheld by the court and law enforcement should that be necessary. According to the law, legal grounds for an eviction are:
- Breaking the lease agreement
- Failure to pay rent on time
- Performing illegal activities on the property
- Damaging the property and bringing down its value
- Being a serious nuisance to other tenants and neighbors
Create a Formal Notice of Violation
Property management professionals will often discuss violations with a tenant before moving forward. Even if you’ve done that, however, you need to create a formal notice of violation that indicates the violation and the period of notice. Concerning correctable breaches, such as having a pet, minimum notice is three days. If the tenant is on a month-to-month lease, 30-day notice may be required regardless. In the case of default rent, this notice must be signed, indicate the amount past due and include a demand for repossession of the property if the obligation isn’t met within the required time frame.
Deliver the Notice
In order for a notice to be valid, it must be served. This can be as simple as hand delivering it to the tenant but may be less simple if the tenant avoids being served. The law does allow you to hand deliver it to any adult at the residence or the tenant’s place of business and also mail a copy to the tenant. Hiring a property management company in Sacramento can simplify this process.
Conclusion of Phase One
At this point, you’ve concluded phase one. Perhaps you and the tenant have achieved a resolution. If not, then the ideal solution is that the tenant moves out of their own accord. If the tenant refuses, you must then involve the courts in order to proceed.
File a Lawsuit
Once you’ve given notice and waited out the period required by law, your next step is to file a lawsuit. You open a complaint in what is known as an Unlawful Detainer case. Once you or your property management company in Sacramento has successfully filed that lawsuit, the court will issue a summons that the tenant has five days to respond to.
Wait the Full Five Days
Whatever happens next, you must wait the full five days from the moment the summons is issued. The tenant is allowed that time by law to respond. The ideal response from your perspective is that the tenant uses those five days to vacate the property. The tenant may, however, file with the court, in which case a date will be set for you both to appear in court. Some tenants will simply ignore the summons, and in that case, you must request the court date yourself.
Getting a Court Date
If the tenant hasn’t moved out, then you’ll get a court date either because the tenant requested it or because you request it after waiting the full five days. The court date will generally be within 20 days of the request. During this waiting period, you cannot collect rent or otherwise bother the tenant. However, the tenant will eventually be liable for that and any past rent.
Appear in Court
You must appear in court, or your lawsuit will be dismissed. If the tenant doesn’t show, your appearance may be just a formality. Otherwise, you’ll need the lease agreement, all delivered violation notices and any other documentation that may be relevant to your case. A lawyer isn’t required, but property management firms generally opt for representation.
Coordinate with Your Local Sheriff
If you win the case, the tenant will be served a five-day notice to vacate. This may happen in court if the tenant is present. If not, you may have to coordinate with your local sheriff’s office to do that. The sheriff will lock the premises if the tenant has still not moved out after five days.
Remove the Evicted Tenant’s Property
With evictions, there’s always the potential for possessions that are left behind. Ordinances vary between municipalities within Sacramento. You may have the right to simply sell or otherwise dispose of the property, but other local laws require you to provide notice and give the ex-tenant sheriff-escorted access to the property to remove their belongings.
The potential for an eviction is one of the greatest arguments for hiring property managers in Sacramento. Evictions can be both expensive and time-consuming, and professional property managers have the experience and resources needed to minimize those costs. If you don’t currently use a management service, you can hire one to conduct the eviction on your behalf, but be mindful that having professionals handle both vetting and selection can help ensure good tenants that you won’t have to evict.