How To Evict Tenants: Eviction Process Simplified

Life as a landlord is usually profitable and enjoyable, but sometimes there are some more unpleasant aspects of the job to deal with—and the most unpleasant of all is eviction.

Although it’s often necessary, many landlords don’t know exactly what the process really is, and unless you’re using a property management company, you may not have any idea where to start. 

Eviction can be a complicated process, and several legal steps need to be followed. Read on to find out what they are and how to evict your tenants in the best way for all. 

Give the Eviction Notice to Your Tenant

Before anything else can happen, you must give notice to the tenant regarding their eviction. This must be in written form and can be done by completing a notice form. This form needs to be the correct one to meet with Californian law, and if you’re unsure, it’s best to check with an expert first – using the wrong form could mean your tenant is legally allowed to stay. 

The notice period itself will depend on your tenancy agreement, so make sure you’re not doing something illegal yourself by asking your tenant to leave sooner than you should. Even if the tenant is behind on their rent, their notice period must still be respected. 

You do not have to explain why you are giving notice (unless you want to, of course). The property is yours to what you want with, and if you are choosing to sell it or move into it yourself, you don’t have to disclose this information. 

File Eviction Court Forms Correctly

If all goes well, the tenant will move out by the date you have set on their eviction notice, and you’re done. But that’s the best case scenario, and you’re likely to experience a worse situation from time to time, too.

When that happens, you need to fill out another three forms to deal with what is known as the “unlawful detainer.” These forms are: 

  • Summons – Unlawful Detainer-Eviction (SUM-130)
  • Complaint – Unlawful Detainer (UD-100)
  • Civil Case Cover Sheet (CM-010). 

There may also be additional local forms depending on your California district. 

File Your Eviction Complaint 

Once you have completed the relevant forms, you need to file your complaint with the court. There is a strict procedure for doing this and again, it is crucial that you get it right to ensure that the eviction can continue without delay.

First, make two copies of both your Summons and the Complaint. Take the copies and the originals to the courthouse – this must be the courthouse where the property in question is located, not necessarily the one where you live. 

Give all the paperwork to the clerk and pay the filing fee. This can be problematic for some landlords, especially if they haven’t been receiving their rental income. In this case, it might be possible to obtain a fee waiver. If you are granted this, you’ll need to pay the fee later, assuming your case is successful. 

You will receive your copies of the forms back, and they must be stamped ‘Filed’ by the clerk. You’ll need to give one set of copies to the tenant and keep the other yourself. 

Serve The Unlawful Detainer Papers 

Nothing is going to happen unless you serve the tenant their copies of the filed papers. There are a number of ways that you can do this. Firstly, you can hand deliver it. If you do this, it must be given only to the tenant. In some cases, the tenant will refuse to take the papers, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be served; you must tell them they are being served and leave the papers with them, even if that means putting them on the ground and walking away. Alternatively, you can hire a server to do this for you. 

If, after at least three tries, the server is unable to leave the paper with the tenant, they can be left with another member of the household, or even to a colleague at the tenant’s place of work. If this happens, another copy must be mailed to the tenant. A form must also be completed to show that the server completed due diligence and tried to serve the tenant on three separate occasions. Sometimes the only way to get the papers to the tenant is to mail them, but this option can only be utilized if the courts permit it to happen. 

Take the Tenant to Court 

The next step is to take them to court for possession of the property. This will involve filing a Request to Set Case for Trial – Unlawful Detainer (UD-150) form.

After the judgment, the tenant and landlord will have to abide by what the judge has decided, although appeals can be made.