Evictions are something that no landlord ever wants to deal with. But it's always best to be prepared for these challenging circumstances. The California eviction process might be difficult to understand, which is why we at Castle Management have prepared this guide for you.

What’s the Eviction Process in California? Here’s a Guide:

In California, the eviction process is governed by the California landlord tenant laws. Eviction, also known as 'unlawful detainer', is a legal process that occurs when a landlord attempts to regain possession of their rental unit from a tenant who has not met their rental obligations.

Understanding the eviction process can help tenants protect their rights and avoid potential pitfalls during the eviction process. Let’s have a look at the various steps that are to be followed by the landlord and the tenant in order to complete the eviction process.

Notice for Lease Termination with Legal Cause

A California landlord can evict a tenant for various reasons:

Non-Payment of Rent

California landlords are not allowed to unlawfully evict tenants. But the failure of a tenant to make timely rent payments grants the landlord the legal authority to evict the renter.

According to the statutes governing rental properties in the state of California, the rent is considered overdue beginning the day following the date on which it was originally due.


End of Lease Agreement

In California, a landlord can evict a "holdover tenant" or "tenant at will" who doesn't have a lease or whose lease has ended. The California landlord must first end the lease by giving the right amount of notice to leave.

But there is no requirement to give notice in the following cases:

  • Fixed-term leases that have ended.
  • There is no lease.
  • When no notice is needed, a landlord can file an eviction action directly with the court without giving a tenant written notice first.

Violation of Responsibilities

Tenants are legally bound to uphold their responsibilities as outlined in the rental lease agreement that they agreed to and signed in order to rent from the landlord. Here are some examples of violations:

  • Property damage
  • Possession of a pet if pets are not allowed
  • Surpassing the maximum number of occupants permitted in the building
  • Engaging in unlawful behaviour

Serving a Tenant with an Eviction Notice

It is necessary for the landlord to provide their tenant with notice prior to initiating the actual eviction process. The type of eviction notice is determined by the reason for the termination.

There are four types of eviction notices given in California:

  • 3 days’ notice to pay the unpaid rent or vacate the premises

  • 30 days’ notice to quit if the tenant stayed for less than 1 year in case of lease expiration


  • 60 days’ notice to quit if the tenant stayed for 1 year or more in case of lease expiration

  • 3 days’ notice to cure the issue or vacate in case of violation of responsibilities

  • 3 days’ notice to quit in case tenant commits serious violation

Tenant Eviction Defences in California

There are reasons a tenant can use in defence of an eviction, they may claim:

  • A "Self-Help" eviction attempt is made by the landlord
  • Inappropriate eviction of tenant by landlord
  • Continued unfair treatment by the landlord, such as misuse of the security deposit
  • Discrimination by the landlord against the tenant

Attending Court Hearing

Once the request for a hearing is submitted by the California landlord, the tenant gets notified of the hearing date and time within 20 days. Both the landlord and the tenant are responsible for bringing the following items to the hearing:

  • A copy of agreement to lease the property
  • A copy of notice issued by the landlord mentioning the reason for filing execution
  • A copy of written complaint

Writ of Restitution

Once an eviction notice has been filed in California, the landlord may opt for a writ of restitution. This document is issued by the court requiring the tenant to vacate the property within five days and remove any personal property.


The writ of restitution also requires that all compensation due to the landlord must be paid before or on the day of eviction, including any payment plans established between parties.

Regardless of whether the tenant disputed the eviction or not, if the judge rules in favour of the landlord, a Writ of Execution will be issued, and the procedure will continue.

The Eviction

In California, when a landlord has obtained a writ of restitution through the courts authorising an eviction, the final eviction will take place after all the paperwork is completed. The tenant must be served with a Four-Day Notice to Quit before the writ of restitution can be enforced by the Sheriff's Office.

Bottom Line

The eviction process in California can be a long and complicated one. If you find yourself in the situation where you need to evict a tenant, it is important to seek legal counsel so that you can do so properly and within the bounds of the law.

With the help of an experienced attorney or property management company, you can ensure that your rights are protected, and that the eviction process goes smoothly.

Get in touch with the property management team at Castle Companies today if you have any more inquiries or require assistance in resolving issues with challenging renters. You can rely on our knowledge and experience to guide you through any challenging circumstance.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regard to this content, or any other aspect of your property management needs.