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How do you evict a tenant in California?

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Quick Answer

To evict a tenant in California, make sure you have legal ground, serve a notice, wait for a response, and file and serve court papers, advises UpCounsel. In court, the tenant can negotiate a settlement to correct the eviction grounds, or lose the case and face legal eviction.

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Full Answer

Legal grounds for eviction in California include failure to pay rent, being an excessive nuisance to other tenants, using property for illegal purposes, staying after the lease is up, and violating the terms of the lease, reports UpCounsel. Month-to-month tenants can also be evicted with proper notice. If evicting a tenant for failure to pay rent or a correctable violation of the terms, the landlord must give the tenant a notice and a three-day period for the tenant to attempt to correct the problem. If the problem is not corrected by the deadline, the landlord must file three forms in court to begin legal proceedings: an Unlawful Detainer Complaint, Civil Case Cover Sheet and a Pre-judgment Right of Possession form.

The landlord or a representative must serve the tenant the correct legal documents mandating a court appearance. The tenant has five days to respond to the court and challenge the lawsuit. If the tenant does not respond, the landlord can file for a legal default for possession of the property. If the tenant responds and presents a challenge, a settlement can be reached during a preliminary hearing or a trial date set for a court decision.

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