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A Guide to the Eviction Process in Los Angeles, California

July 27, 2023

California landlord-tenant law grants landlords and tenants certain rights and responsibilities. Among these is the landlord’s right to evict a tenant for certain reasons. 

Examples of such reasons include unpaid rent, lease agreement violations, and illegal acts done on the rental premises. 

As a landlord, you have an obligation to ensure the eviction process strictly follows the law. At no point should you take matters into your own hands. For instance, shutting down utilities, locking the tenant out, or removing their belongings. 

The following is the step-by-step process that a landlord must take to successfully evict a tenant from their California property or rental unit. 

What Is the Eviction Process in California? Here Is an Overview

California law requires that a landlord has a legal cause to begin the eviction process. Legal grounds to evict a tenant are as follows: 

  • Nonpayment of rent 
  • Refusal to move out at the end of the lease
  • Lease violation 
  • Illegal activity

In some situations, a tenant may be able to ‘cure’ the violation within a specified period. However, in others, the tenant has no option but to vacate the premises within a certain period. 

The following is a basic overview of the process a landlord must take to remove the tenant. 

  • Serve the tenant with the proper notice, depending on the violation committed. Let them know what the violation is and how to cure it, if applicable.
  • If the matter remains unresolved (for example, they did not pay rent), you must file a complaint with the court. 
  • Wait for the tenant to answer after being served with court papers (the Summons and Complaint).
  • Attend the court hearing and await judgment. 
  • If the judgment is in your favor, you will be granted repossession of the property. 

Notice for Lease Termination With Legal Cause 

As previously mentioned, once a landlord has a legal reason to evict a tenant, you must serve them with the proper notice. 

  • For nonpayment of rent evictions, landlords must serve the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This will give the tenant up to 3 days to pay rent due to avoid an eviction process. If the tenant fails to pay the rent due or move out within the stated period, you must take the matter to court. 

If the tenant vacates the premises before the three-day deadline, the landlord has the right to use the security deposit to address the outstanding rent and may also take legal action against the tenant for any remaining amounts owed beyond the security deposit.

  • For landlords to evict tenants who are on a periodic lease or rental agreement, and they refuse to move out, then you must serve them a Notice to Vacate. For tenants who have resided at the property for up to a year, you must serve them with a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. This will give the tenant up to 30 days to move out. 

For tenants that have resided for more than a year, you must serve them a 60-Day Notice to Vacate to evict them. This will give the tenant up to 60 days to move out. 


  • For landlords to evict a tenant who commits a lease agreement violation, you must serve them a 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Vacate. This type of notice gives the tenant the chance to either fix the violation or move out within 3 days. 

This notice applies to a wide range of violations, including failure by the tenant to maintain the premises, failure to dispose of waste properly, and if a tenant causes property damage. 

If the tenant does not fix the issue within the 3 days, you must move to court and file a lawsuit

  • For tenants who commit illegal activity, you must serve them a 3-Day Notice to Vacate, with no option to cure. 

Serving a Tenant with a Notice for Eviction in California 

You must serve the aforementioned eviction notices in accordance with California eviction process laws. You have three options to choose from. 

The first option is to serve a copy of the notice to the tenant in person. The second option, if you’re unable to find the tenant, is to hand a copy to an occupant of the property who is of suitable age. Lastly, you can post a copy on the entry door or any other conspicuous place.

Whichever option you choose to serve the notice, you must also mail another copy of the written notice to the tenant via either certified or registered mail with a return receipt. 


Tenant Eviction Defenses in California 

If the tenant fails to cure, the next step would be to move to court and file an eviction lawsuit. After successful filing, the clerk of the court will issue you with a copy of a Summons and Complaint. 

The tenant will then have a chance to respond if they wish to fight their eviction. They will have 5 business days to do so. 

Writ of Execution 

If the judgment is in your favor, the court will issue you with a Writ of Execution. This will be the tenant’s final notice to leave the premises. The tenant will have up to 5 days to move out on their own. If they do not, the sheriff will remove them forcefully. 

Bottom Line

The only way for a landlord to evict tenants from their rented premises in California is by following the legal eviction process and obtaining a court order. It is crucial for landlords to know how to properly and legally evict a tenant in California in order to avoid any potential legal repercussions. 

Understanding the California eviction process ensures that landlords follow the law and protect their rights while upholding the rights of their tenants, promoting a fair and transparent relationship between both parties.

If you have a question or need expert help managing your Los Angeles rental property, look no further than King George Property Management Solutions. Get in touch to learn more!

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this blog is intended for general guidance and should not be considered as a replacement for professional legal advice. It is important to be aware that laws pertaining to property management may change, rendering this information outdated by the time you read it.