A Summary of California Eviction Process

The eviction process in California is referred to as an Unlawful Detainer court action. Below is a summary, an excerpt from the California Courts Self-Help Guide, a flow chart from the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, and a link to an Eviction Brochure

The Process

A landlord must meet many legal requirements before requesting a court order that says their tenant must move out.

The landlord gives the tenant a written Notice to do something by a deadline.

For example, a Notice might say to fix a problem or move out by a certain date. The deadlines can be very short, like 3 days, or months.

If the tenant doesn't do what the Notice says by the deadline, the landlord can file an eviction case (called an unlawful detainer). The landlord must have a copy of the court papers delivered (served) to the tenant.

 The Landlord starts an eviction case in court by filing a Unlawful Detainer Complaint and Summons.

The tenant has a few days to file a response in court.  If the tenant doesn't respond by the deadline, the landlord can file papers asking a judge to decide the case without their input. If the tenant does respond, either side can ask for a trial where a judge or jury will decide.  The judge decides the outcome.

If the landlord wins, they can ask the judge for papers that tell the sheriff to evict the tenants. The sheriff will post a Notice to Vacate and the tenant has time to move out. If the tenant wins, then they can stay on the premises.

NOTE: A landlord can’t just turn off the power or other utilities, lock a tenant out, or throw out their belongings to get their tenant to move out. If they do, the landlord may have to pay the tenant a penalty.

See also California Tenant Law

There are more step-by-steps guides available and people ready to help you. 

Sources: California Courts Self-Help Guide, and the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.

This information is for educational purposes only.