When you're a landlord, you hope never to evict a tenant. Even with thorough rental guidelines, every landlord has to be prepared in the event you need to remove your renters. Today we'll talk about how—and when—to evict a tenant.
Before we proceed, note that any time you consider eviction, be sure you consult with a lawyer: this article isn't legal advice. Consider these tips with caution when working through an eviction for your Concord rental property.
Eviction Is a Process
Forget what you see on television or in movies: landlords cannot decide to change the locks, put a notice on the door, and force a tenant out of a rental home within 24 hours. In California, you must follow a specific process under landlord-tenant law when evicting a renter.
Knowing and following the law will help you avoid a lawsuit: if the goal is to remove a terrible tenant from your property before the lease ends, there's no need to act in haste or with emotion! Protect yourself and your property by understanding the correct way to evict a tenant.
Document Your Reason
The first step in the eviction process is documentation of your reason to evict a tenant from your Concord rental property.
Deciding you don't like a tenant is not a valid reason to break a lease and force someone to leave your rental property. Make sure you have a legitimate complaint—valid under the law—with documented proof to support the eviction process.
Valid Reasons for Eviction
California law allows a variety of reasons to legally evict a tenant:
- Violating the Lease Agreement
Depending on the terms of a tenant's lease, you can remove a tenant for violations of the agreement. Violations can include physical modifications to the property without permission, unauthorized pets, subletting without approval, or too many nuisance complaints.
- Failure to Pay Rent
Paying the rent every month when due is the most basic of promises when signing a lease to rent a home. When it comes to reasons for eviction, failure to pay rent is the most common reason to evict someone from your rental property.
- Damage to Your Property
Accidents happen in a rental property: when accidental damage occurs to your property, work with your tenant to resolve the situation. However, if the damage is intentional or your tenant refuses to compensate you for accidental damage, that's a different situation. If the damage is a significant issue that goes unresolved, you might have a valid reason to evict your tenant.
- Illegal Activity
Your screening process should help you exclude any tenants that might become involved in unlawful activity. However, sometimes, your screening process can't prevent future illegal actions in your property. When a tenant participates in any unlawful activity, including running an illegal business from your rental property, this is grounds for eviction.
Documentation is your best ally when it comes to using any of these reasons to legally evict a tenant: be sure you keep good notes and take photos. Don't be afraid to call in local authorities if you spot anything illegal happening on your property, and document any case numbers—anything a landlord can use to support themselves in court is useful.
What to Do Next
When you determine you have a valid reason for eviction, you must provide written notice of the issue and the expectations before beginning the legal eviction process.
- Late Rent: Three-Day Notice to Pay
If your tenant is late on the rent, give the tenant a three-day written notice to pay rent or quit. This notice lets the tenant know they must pay the rent—in full—within three days.
- Lease Violation: Three-Day Notice to Cure
If your tenant violates the lease agreement, provide a three-day notice to cure: this notice lets your tenant know that they have three days to correct the violation.
- Other Severe Violation: Three-Day Unconditional Quit Notice
If your tenant has caused a severe violation, you can move forward with a three-day notice to move out within three days. There's no opportunity for them to correct the situation.
Be careful with the Unconditional Quit Notice. This can only be used in very narrow circumstances:
- Subletting without permission
- Significant damage
- Extreme nuisance complaints
- Illegal activity
If your tenant fails to comply with these three-day notices, you can file an eviction lawsuit with the court.
Don't Evict Without Expert Help!
Dealing with bad tenants is one of the things landlords dread: don't let the fear of dealing with evictions or unruly tenants keep you from owning rental properties! When you hire a property management company, you hire a partner that handles any eviction for you.
All County Heritage Property Management provides more than eviction services, including finding the next—and better—tenant for your rental property. We use a thorough screening process to make sure one troublesome tenant isn't replaced with another. Do you have a lease-violating tenant? Perhaps you've discovered illegal activity happening on your property—All County Heritage Property Management is here to help!