Evictions are never a pleasant experience, but they are sometimes necessary for landlords in California to regain possession of their rental properties due to non-payment of rent or other lease violations. In 2023, the eviction process in California has evolved with new laws and regulations, and understanding the updated steps and costs involved is crucial for landlords. In this blog post, we’ll provide an overview of the California eviction process, highlighting the steps and associated costs as of 2023.
Step 1: Serve a Notice to Quit
The eviction process in California typically begins with the landlord serving a Notice to Quit to the tenant. The type of notice required depends on the reason for the eviction:
- 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent: If the tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord must serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This notice gives the tenant three days to pay the rent in full or vacate the property.
- 3-Day Notice to Cure: For lease violations other than non-payment of rent, the landlord must serve a 3-Day Notice to Cure or Quit. This notice provides the tenant with three days to correct the violation (e.g., repair damage) or leave the property.
- 30-Day or 60-Day Notice: In cases of month-to-month tenancies, the landlord can serve a 30-Day or 60-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy without specifying a reason.
Step 2: Filing an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit
If the tenant does not comply with the notice and remains in the property, the next step is to file an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit in the appropriate California court. As of 2023, the filing fees for an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit vary by county but typically range from $250 to $450 or more.
Step 3: Serving the Summons and Complaint
After filing the lawsuit, the landlord must serve the tenant with a Summons and Complaint. The method of service can vary, and it’s essential to follow legal procedures. Service fees for process servers or law enforcement officers may apply, generally ranging from $40 to $75 or more.
Step 4: Tenant Response
Upon being served, the tenant has five days to respond to the lawsuit by filing an Answer. If the tenant fails to respond, the landlord can request a default judgment.
Step 5: Court Hearings
If the tenant responds, the case proceeds to court hearings. In California, eviction cases may involve several hearings, including the initial trial, pre-trial conferences, and potentially a trial for possession and judgment for unpaid rent.
Step 6: Obtaining a Writ of Possession
If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the next step is to obtain a Writ of Possession. The sheriff’s office will serve the Writ, giving the tenant a specified time to vacate the property.
Step 7: Tenant Removal
If the tenant does not voluntarily leave after the Writ of Possession is served, the sheriff’s office will oversee the physical removal of the tenant from the property.
Costs Associated with Eviction in California
The costs of eviction in California can add up quickly and may include:
- Filing Fees: These vary by county but typically range from $250 to $450 or more.
- Process Server or Law Enforcement Fees: For serving court documents, such as the Summons and Complaint, ranging from $40 to $75 or more.
- Legal Fees: If you hire an attorney to handle the eviction, legal fees will apply.
- Court Costs: Expenses related to court hearings, transcripts, and judgments.
- Writ of Possession Fee: Typically, a fee ranging from $125 to $150.
The California eviction process in 2023 involves multiple steps and costs, and it’s essential for landlords to be aware of the current laws and regulations. While evictions can be costly and time-consuming, understanding the process and seeking legal advice when necessary can help landlords navigate these challenges efficiently and within the bounds of the law. It’s crucial to stay informed about the specific procedures and costs in your county and to approach evictions with care and compliance.