How To Evict A Bad Tenant

Featured image CC 2.0 by Kurt Bauschardt via Flickr

If you are a landlord in California, you might sometimes feel trapped by a bad tenant. Perhaps they pay rent late, if at all. Perhaps they are slobs, or are inconsiderate to other tenants. While it is difficult to evict a tenant in California, it can be done, and we can even help a little.

Have a Good Reason

You can’t evict a tenant for not liking them; you need to have a legitimate reason. Some reasons (thank you, LegalMatch) include:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Violating the lease
  • Staying beyond the agreed upon rental term
  • Causing a nuisance
  • Damaging the property
  • Performing illegal activities inside the unit
  • Using the unit for an impermissible manner such as operating a business in a residential zone

Give Three Days Notice

If you’re in your rights to evict, you must give three days notice. You have three ways to do this:

  • Hand it to the tenant
  • Hand it to another resident, or person at tenant’s place of work, and mail a copy to the tenant
  • Tape a copy to the door and mail a copy to the tenant

Go to Court

If the tenant doesn’t abide by the eviction notice, the next step is court. You must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Serve the tenant in one of the same three ways you can serve eviction notice. Note that it can be a long process, but a court hearing should take place within 21 days, and if you win, the tenant will need to be out within 5 days.

The Friendlier Way

Perhaps you have a good tenant, but want to use your unit for other purposes, or perhaps you want to renovate and increase the rent. Of course, in that situation, you have little legal recourse, but if you’re willing to shell out enough money, you might be able to get your tenant out.

There has been a lot of press about these buyouts, but little analysis on what is the fair market price. The general range for buyouts, according to a lawyer familiar with the matter, is about $20,000 to $60,000. When one woman asked for $80,000, the landlord called it “blackmail.” (She ended up settling for $15K.) Under the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to evict tenants as long as they don’t rent out the property for at least five years, the owner is required to pay only $5,200 per tenant.

Source: Priceonomics

No matter how you end up getting rid of your tenant, we can help with the moving process. Note that very few movers will get in the middle of a landlord/tenant dispute, so please make sure everyone is on the same page, but helping pay for a tenant’s move is a big step in the negotiation process.