What are the eviction rules for real estate investors in California?

Understanding Eviction Rules for Real Estate Investors in California

Eviction rules in California are crucial for real estate investors to understand, as they dictate the legal process for removing a tenant from a rental property. One such rule is the requirement to provide proper notice before initiating an eviction. In this article, we will delve into the various eviction rules and regulations in California, providing valuable insights for investors, homeowners, first-time home buyers, and real estate agents alike.

What is an Eviction?

An eviction is a legal process in which a landlord seeks to remove a tenant from their rental property. This can occur for various reasons, such as non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, or illegal activities on the property. Evictions must follow specific rules and procedures to ensure that both the landlord and tenant’s rights are protected.

California Eviction Rules: An Overview

California has specific eviction rules that landlords must follow to legally remove a tenant from their property. These rules include:

  • Providing proper notice
  • Following the unlawful detainer process
  • Adhering to rent control regulations
  • Complying with just cause eviction requirements

Failure to follow these rules can result in legal consequences for the landlord, such as fines or being forced to allow the tenant to remain in the property.

Providing Proper Notice

Before initiating an eviction, landlords must provide tenants with written notice. The type of notice required depends on the reason for the eviction:

  • Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit: If the tenant has not paid rent, the landlord must provide a three-day notice giving the tenant the option to pay the outstanding rent or vacate the property.
  • Three-Day Notice to Cure or Quit: If the tenant has violated a term of the lease, the landlord must provide a three-day notice allowing the tenant to correct the violation or vacate the property.
  • Three-Day Notice to Quit: If the tenant has engaged in illegal activities on the property, the landlord can provide a three-day notice requiring the tenant to vacate without the option to correct the issue.
  • 30-Day or 60-Day Notice to Quit: For tenants who have lived in the property for less than one year, a 30-day notice is required. For tenants who have lived in the property for more than one year, a 60-day notice is required. This notice is used when the landlord wishes to end a month-to-month tenancy without cause.

It is essential for landlords to ensure that the notice is properly served to the tenant, either by personal delivery, substituted service, or posting and mailing.

Following the Unlawful Detainer Process

If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court. This process involves:

  • Filing a complaint with the court
  • Serving the tenant with a copy of the complaint and a summons
  • Waiting for the tenant to respond to the complaint
  • Attending a court hearing if the tenant contests the eviction
  • Obtaining a judgment for possession if the court rules in the landlord’s favor
  • Requesting a writ of possession from the court
  • Coordinating with the sheriff to enforce the writ and remove the tenant from the property

It is important for landlords to follow this process carefully, as any errors can result in delays or dismissal of the eviction case.

Adhering to Rent Control Regulations

Some cities in California have rent control ordinances that limit the reasons for which a landlord can evict a tenant. In these areas, landlords must have a “just cause” for eviction, such as non-payment of rent, breach of the lease, or illegal activities on the property. Additionally, rent control ordinances may require landlords to pay relocation assistance to tenants who are evicted for no-fault reasons, such as the landlord’s desire to move into the property or to perform substantial renovations.

Complying with Just Cause Eviction Requirements

As of January 1, 2020, California’s statewide rent control law, the Tenant Protection Act, requires landlords to have a just cause for evicting tenants who have lived in the property for at least 12 months. Just cause reasons include:

  • Non-payment of rent
  • Breach of the lease
  • Nuisance or illegal activities on the property
  • Refusal to allow the landlord access to the property
  • Owner move-in or occupancy by a family member
  • Substantial renovations or demolition of the property
  • Withdrawal of the property from the rental market

For no-fault evictions, such as owner move-in or substantial renovations, landlords must provide relocation assistance to the tenant, either in the form of a direct payment or a waiver of the last month’s rent.


Understanding and adhering to California’s eviction rules is crucial for real estate investors to protect their investments and avoid legal complications. By providing proper notice, following the unlawful detainer process, and complying with rent control and just cause eviction requirements, landlords can navigate the eviction process successfully and maintain a successful rental property business.

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.