The 4 Steps of the Eviction Process in California

To evict a tenant in California, landlords must follow a specific process that can take anywhere from two weeks to four months. The time frame will depend on the type of eviction and whether or not the tenant chooses to fight it.

Evicting a tenant in California can be complicated and time-consuming, so it’s important to understand the steps involved before getting started. If you are a landlord evicting a tenant in California, here’s what you need to know:

1. Eviction Notice

The first step in an eviction is to serve the tenant notice. The type of notice and the process to follow depends on the just cause. A just cause is simply a legitimate reason for evicting a tenant. You cannot evict a tenant for just any reason or take money from their security deposit instead of evicting them.

A landlord in California can evict a tenant for several reasons, including not paying rent, damaging the property on purpose, violating the lease terms, or doing something illegal at the rental property. The landlord must give the tenant a specific type of notice depending on the reason for the eviction.

2. Notice to Comply for Tenants Who Violate Lease Terms

A landlord in California can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their written lease agreement. The law requires the landlord to allow the tenant to correct the violation before proceeding with eviction.

If a tenant breaks the lease agreement rules, the landlord may take legal action to remove them from the property. Common lease violations include having unauthorized pets, exceeding the maximum occupancy, causing damage to the property, or violating the Fair Housing Act. The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit if the tenant does not remedy the violation within the specified time frame.

3. Notice to Quit for Tenants Who Have No Written Lease

If a tenant in California doesn’t have a written lease, they can still be evicted, but the eviction process must follow certain procedures. Before beginning the eviction process, the landlord must provide the tenant with certain notices. If the tenant still doesn’t comply, the landlord can proceed with the eviction.

4. Notice to Quit for Illegal Activity

In California, illegal activity includes drug-related felonies, damage to property, physical harm, violent felonies, and criminal acts that are public nuisances.

You must file a complaint in the relevant county court to begin eviction. This will cost you between $85 and $135. Once the court’s clerk has notarized the complaint, the summons will be issued by the court. A process server will then serve the summons to the tenant.

A court hearing will take place seven to 14 days after the tenant has been served with a summons. If the judgment is in favor of the landlord, the court will issue a Writ of Restitution. This is the tenant’s final notice to vacate the premises. The Writ of Restitution will be executed by the sheriff, their deputy, or the undersheriff, who will remove the tenant from the unit by force if necessary.


The eviction process in California is lengthy and complicated. Many steps must be taken for a landlord to evict a tenant legally, and if even one step is not followed correctly, the eviction may be considered invalid. Because of this, landlords and tenants need to be familiar with the eviction process to avoid potential legal problems.

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