California Eviction Process & Laws | Free CA Eviction Notices

California eviction begins by the landlord sending notice to the tenant by personally serving or sending through a certified mail service (with return receipt). If the tenant has the option to cure, such as paying late rent or fixing a material violation, they may do so and the notice becomes invalid. If the tenant does not have an option to cure then they will be forced to vacate, along with their personal property, at the end of the time period. If the tenant does not move off the premises, or cure the issue, the landlord may file a forcible detainer. Landlords use the Eviction Checklist.

NonPayment Laws - 3 days CC § 1161

NonCompliance Laws - 3 days CC § 1161

Month to Month Laws - 30 days for tenancy under 1 year, 60 if tenancy is over 1 year, and 90 days if it is Section 8 housing CC § 1946

Forcible Entry and Detainer Laws - CC § 1159-1179a

Types of Notice

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The California 90 Day Notice to Quit form is used when the tenant is receiving “Section 8″ housing assistance, and the landlord decides to terminate the housing assistance program (HAP) contract. Once served with the notice, the tenant has ninety (90) days to vacate the rental property. If the tenant does not…

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The California Sixty (60) Day Notice to Quit form is used by landlords to notify tenants on a month-to-month rental agreement* of the termination of their tenancy. *The sixty (60) day notice to quit/vacate form is only applicable to tenants who have rented the property for over one year, and are currently…

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In accordance with §1161, the California thirty (30) day notice to quit form is used for standard month-to-month rental/lease agreements in which the tenant has been renting the property for less than one full year. Although landlords do not need to specify any reason to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, they cannot terminate one…

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The California three (3) day notice to comply or quit, following §1161(3), is used by the landlord when a tenant has broken a written part of the lease agreement, and when the violation is correctable. The notice states that the tenant must either correct their violation or move out of the…

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Under §1161, the California three (3) day notice to quit/vacate form is used by landlords when a tenant has violated the lease agreement in a way that is not rectifiable. Upon receipt of this notice, the tenant has three days to vacate the rental property. If the tenant does not vacate…

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The California three (3) notice to pay or quit, in accordance with Statute 1161, is served by a landlord to a tenant that has not paid his or her rent in a timely manner. The tenant has the option to either pay the past-due rent, or “quit” (vacate the rental property). After…

Process How to Evict a Tenant

Step 1 – If the tenant is being evicted due to a failure to pay rent, the landlord must issue a three-day notice to either pay the rent or vacate the property. If the rent is not paid within the three-day period, or the tenant does not vacate the property, the landlord can begin the eviction lawsuit process.* Tenants who have violated the lease agreement also have to be served with a three-day notice as well. The three-day period is designed to allow the tenant to remedy their correctable violation and remain a lawful renter of the property. If they do not correct their violation within the three-day period, the landlord can then begin the unlawful detainer process. Tenants who are conducting illegal activities in the rental property are required to vacate the property within the three-day notice period.

*Tenants who are renting on a month-to-month basis must be given thirty (30) days notice. Tenants who have leased/rented the same property for more than one year are required to be given sixty (60) days notice.

Step 2 – The notice should be personally delivered to the tenant if possible. If not possible, the notice can be left at the rental property of the tenant with a person 18 years or older, or at the tenant’s place of employment. This option is known as “substituted service.” If using this option, the landlord must also mail a copy of the notice directly to the tenant (certified mail is recommended). Landlords can also post the notice on the main door of the rental property (but must mail a copy to the tenant as well). After the notice has been served in one of the manners described above and the waiting/notice period has lapsed, the landlord can begin the eviction lawsuit process.

Step 3 – The only method available to a landlord to legally evict a tenant in the State of California is to file an unlawful detainer in a local superior (i.e. trial) court. The landlord can only file the unlawful detainer (aka eviction lawsuit) after the required amount of notice has been given to the tenant (ranging from three, thirty, and sixty-day periods).

Step 4 – The following three forms are required to initiate the eviction lawsuit process:

  • Civil Case Cover Sheet
  • Unlawful Detainer Complaint
  • Pre-Judgment Right of Possession


The Unlawful Detainer Complaint and Civil Case Cover Sheet must be submitted to the superior/trial courthouse in the county where the rental property is located. After submitting these forms in-person at the courthouse, you will receive a copy of the stamped complaint form, as well as a summons that you must serve to the tenant.

Note: If there is more than one person living in the rental property (who is not a tenant), the landlord must serve them a “Pre-Judgement Right of Possession” form (along with a copy of the detainer complaint and the summons). This form ensures that any unnamed occupants are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

Step 5 – The landlord must then serve the tenants and any unnamed occupants with a copy of the unlawful detainer complaint, the summons form, and the pre-judgement right of possession form (if applicable). These documents cannot be posted on the documents door/property, they must be personally delivered or sent via certified mail. When the tenant has been served, file a proof of service at the courthouse. The tenant has five days to respond to the summons. After this five-day period, the landlord can request a default judgement at the courthouse. The clerk will schedule a court date, and the landlord must provide enough evidence to prove that they followed the legal eviction process, and that the tenant has defaulted.

Step 6 – Barring any sort of default judgement, the next step of the process is to request a trial date for the initial unlawful detainer complaint (both the landlord and the tenant can request a trial date). It is important to note that there are several ways that a tenant can legally object the notice, service, or actual complaint. If this occurs, the landlord will be required to serve the tenant for a second time. If the service, notice, or complaint is objected again (and the court sides with the tenant), then the entire lawsuit will be dismissed.

Step 7 – At the trial, both the landlord and the tenant will have the opportunity to show their side of the case. It’s recommended that as much supporting documentation as possible is collected in order to use during the trial. If the court rules in favor the landlord, the tenant will be given a period of five days to vacate the property. After the five-day period, the local sheriff’s office has the authority to physically lock the tenant out of the rental property. If the lawsuit is ruled in favor of the landlord, the tenant will most likely have to pay past-due rent, legal fees, and other associated penalties (dependent on the rental agreement).