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The California Landlord's Law Book: Evictions

Your step-by-step guide to evicting a problem tenant in California

Evict problem tenants without worry using this step-by-step guide. The California Landlord's Law Book: Evictions, shows you how to legally:

  • prepare and serve 3-, 30-, 60- or 90-day notices
  • handle a contested case
  • represent yourself in court

Includes all the legal forms you need!

Available as part of Nolo's California Landlord's Bundle

  • Product Details
  • Sooner or later, nearly every residential landlord has to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, property damage, an illegal sublet (including Airbnb), or another violation of the lease or the law.

    You don’t always need to hire a lawyer, but you do need reliable information, particularly if your property is under rent control. Here, you’ll find all of the downloadable forms you need along with clear, step-by-step instructions on how to:

    • prepare nonpayment of rent notices
    • prepare 3-, 30-, 60-, and 90-day notices
    • complete and serve all required eviction forms
    • deal with tenants’ delaying tactics, and
    • file your “unlawful detainer” complaint in court.

    Just filing an eviction lawsuit often prompts the tenant to leave. If it doesn’t, you’ll learn how to:

    • handle a contested eviction suit by yourself—and know when to get professional help
    • respond to a tenant’s defenses and claims
    • evict a tenant who has filed for bankruptcy or is occupying property you purchased at a foreclosure sale, and
    • collect unpaid rent after you win.

    “Recommended by the state Department of Consumer Affairs.”—Sacramento Bee

    “An up-to-date book such as this is as necessary as…a good repair person.”—San Francisco Chronicle


    Number of Pages
    Included Forms

    This book comes with these forms:

    • Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
    • 30-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy
    • 60-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy
    • 90-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy
    • Three-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit
    • Three-Day Notice to Quit
    • Verification of Partnership by Plaintiff
    • Settlement Agreement
    • Questionnaire for Judgment-Debtor Examination
    • Proof of Service by Mail
    • Summons—Unlawful Detainer—Eviction
    • Proof of Service of Summons
    • Complaint—Unlawful Detainer
    • Civil Case Cover Sheet
    • Plaintiff’s Mandatory Cover Sheet and Supplemental Allegations—Unlawful Detainer
    • Civil Case Cover Sheet Addendum and Statement of Location (L.A. form)
    • Attachment to Judicial Council Form
    • Application and Order to Serve Summons by Posting for Unlawful Detainer (L.A. form)
    • Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession
    • Blank Pleading Paper
    • Request for Entry of Default
    • Request for Dismissal
    • Writ of Execution
    • Declaration
    • Default Judgment—Unlawful Detainer by Court (L.A. form)
    • Declaration for Default Judgment by Court
    • Judgment—Unlawful Detainer
    • Notice of Remote Appearance
    • Stipulation for Entry of Judgment
    • Answer—Unlawful Detainer
    • Request/Counter-Request to Set Case for Trial—Unlawful Detainer
    • Judgment—Unlawful Detainer Attachment
    • Application and Order for Appearance and Examination
    • Application for Earnings Withholding Order (Wage Garnishment)
    • Confidential Statement of Judgment Debtor’s Social Security Number
    • Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment
    • Notice of Motion and Motion for Relief From the Automatic Stay Under
    • 11 U.S.C. § 362 (with supporting declarations) (REAL PROPERTY)
  • About the Author
    • Nils Rosenquest, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

      Nils Rosenquest ( has practiced housing, landlord-tenant, real estate, and business law for more than 35 years on behalf of individual landlords and tenants, small businesses, and community organizations.

      A graduate of Dartmouth College and UC Law San Francisco, Rosenquest has been involved in San Francisco’s legal “housing wars” from the inception of rent control through its many revisions. He has tried landlord–tenant and related cases in counties throughout Northern California, including the United States District Court and the United States Bankruptcy Court. He also serves as a neutral mediator in real estate and landlord-tenant matters.

      AV rated by Martindale Hubbell, Nils practices in all state and federal courts in California as well as the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals. He is also admitted to the United States Court of Claims and the United States Tax Court.

      In addition to helping private individuals and companies in housing and real estate matters, Nils represents nonprofit subsidized housing developers and nonprofit live-work communities.

      Apart from law practice, he serves on the board of directors for a San Francisco community development organization, volunteers at the San Francisco Superior Court in three departments, and teaches legal continuing education classes from time to time.

  • Table of Contents
  • The California Landlord’s Evictions Companion

    • COVID-19
    • Who Should Not Use This Book

    1. Evictions in California: An Overview

    • The Landlord’s Role in Evictions
    • Eviction Forms and Procedures
    • Proceed With Caution When Evicting a Tenant
    • How This Book Will Help You Do an Eviction
    • Statewide Rent Control: The Tenant Protection Act of 2019
    • Evictions in Cities with Rent Control and Others
    • Reading Your Rent Control Ordinance
    • Drug Dealing
    • Evicting Roommates
    • Evicting a Resident Manager
    • Attorneys and Eviction Services

    2. Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent

    • Overview of the Process
    • Preparing the Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
    • Serving the Three-Day Notice on the Tenant
    • After the Three-Day Notice Is Served
    • When to File Your Lawsuit

    3. Eviction by 30-Day or 60-Day Notice

    • Overview of the Process
    • When a Tenancy Can Be Terminated With a 30‑Day or 60-Day Notice
    • Impermissible Reasons to Evict With a 30- or 60-Day Notice
    • 30-Day, 60-Day, and 90-Day Notices
    • Rent Control and Just Cause Eviction Ordinances
    • Should You Use a Three-Day, 30-Day, or 60-Day Notice?
    • Preparing the 30-Day or 60-Day Notice
    • Serving the Notice
    • When to File Your Lawsuit

    4. Eviction for Lease Violations, Property Damage, or Nuisance

    • When to Use a Three-Day Notice Eviction
    • Checklist for Uncontested Nonrent Three-Day Notice Eviction
    • Evicting a Tenant Who Is Dealing Drugs
    • The Two Types of Three‑Day Notices
    • Type of Notice Used in Rent Control (Just Cause) Situations
    • Using the Three-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit
    • Using the Unconditional Three‑Day Notice to Quit
    • Serving the Three-Day Notice (Either Type)
    • Accepting Rent After the Notice Is Served
    • When to File Your Lawsuit

    5. Eviction Without a Three-Day or Other Termination Notice

    • Lease Expiration
    • Termination by the Tenant
    • Checklist for Uncontested “No-Notice” Eviction

    6. Completing, Filing, and Serving Your Unlawful Detainer Complaint

    • How to Use This Chapter
    • When to File Your Unlawful Detainer Complaint
    • Where to File Suit
    • Preparing the Summons
    • Preparing the Complaint
    • Preparing the Civil Case Cover Sheet
    • Plaintiff’s Mandatory Supplemental Allegations—Unlawful Detainer
    • Getting the Complaint and Summons Ready to File
    • Filing Your Complaint and Getting Summonses Issued
    • Serving the Papers on the Defendant(s): Service of Process
    • What Next?

    7. Taking a Default Judgment

    • When Can You Take a Default?
    • The Two-Step Default Judgment Process
    • Getting a Default Judgment for Possession
    • Having the Marshal or Sheriff Evict
    • Getting a Money Judgment for Rent and Costs

    8. Contested Cases

    • What Is Involved in a Contested Eviction Case
    • Should You Hire an Attorney?
    • How to Settle a Case
    • Preparing and Filing a Stipulation for Entry of Judgment
    • The Tenant’s Written Response to an Unlawful Detainer Complaint
    • The Tenant’s Answer to Your Complaint
    • Responding to the Answer
    • Pretrial Complications
    • Preparing for Trial
    • The Trial
    • The Writ of Execution and Having the Sheriff or Marshal Evict
    • Appeals
    • Tenant’s Possible “Relief from Forfeiture”

    9. Collecting Your Money Judgment

    • Collection Strategy
    • Using the Tenant’s Security Deposit
    • Finding the Tenant
    • Locating the Tenant’s Assets
    • Garnishing Wages and Bank Accounts
    • Seizing Other Property
    • If the Debtor Files a Claim of Exemption
    • Once the Judgment Is Paid Off

    10. When a Tenant Files for Bankruptcy

    • Filing for Bankruptcy Stops Everything—for a While
    • When You Already Have a Judgment for Possession: Month to Month
    • When You Already Have a Judgment for Possession: Leases
    • When You Are in the Middle of an Eviction Lawsuit: Month-to-Month Tenants
    • When You Are in the Middle of an Eviction Lawsuit: Tenants With Leases
    • When You Have Not Yet Served a Termination Notice
    • Chapter 13 Considerations With a Term Lease

    11. Evicting Tenants in Rental Property Purchased at Foreclosure


    • How to Use the Downloadable Forms on the Nolo Website
    • Editing RTFs
    • Using Judicial Council and Government Forms
    • Special Requirements for Motions and Declarations
    • List of Forms Available on the Nolo Website


  • Sample Chapter
  • Chapter 1
    Evictions in California: An Overview

    This book covers all the rules, procedures, and forms you need to evict a tenant in California. The book is intended for most simple “for cause” cases (where you evict for a legally acceptable reason). Before getting into the details, it’s important to have a clear road map of the eviction process. That’s the purpose of this chapter.

    The Landlord’s Role in Evictions

    Strictly speaking, the word “evict” refers to the process of a sheriff or marshal ordering a tenant to get out or be forcibly removed. It is illegal for you to try to physically evict a tenant yourself. The sheriff or marshal will evict a tenant only after being given a court order known as an “unlawful detainer judgment” or judgment for possession of real property. To get such a judgment, you must bring an eviction lawsuit, called an “unlawful detainer,” against the tenant.

    The linchpin of an unlawful detainer suit involves properly terminating the tenancy; you can’t get a judgment without it. This usually means giving your tenant adequate written notice in a specific way. The law sets out very detailed requirements for a landlord who wants to end a tenancy. If you don’t meet them exactly, you will lose your suit even if your tenant has bounced rent checks repeatedly, violated the lease, or disturbed the neighbors.

    Eviction Forms and Procedures

    There are specific forms and procedures for each step of the eviction process, including:

    • termination forms for ending a tenancy, such as a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, a notice to cure another type of breach or quit (the exact form and procedures vary depending on the reason for the termination), a notice to terminate for nuisance, or a notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy.
    • unlawful detainer forms for starting an eviction lawsuit—the summons and a complaint (the documents that actually initiate your lawsuit)
    • forms for taking a default judgment in an uncontested eviction (if the other side doesn’t show up for trial, you win “by default”), such as a Request for Entry of Default (paperwork sent to the court that asks for possession of the property and for money the tenant owes you)
    • forms for contested evictions, such as a Request/Counter-Request to Set Case for Trial and a Stipulation for Entry of Judgment, both used when a tenant has filed a response to your unlawful detainer complaint
    • forms for execution on the judgment for possession—the writ of possession and the declaration in support of the writ, which law enforcement needs before physically ousting the tenant
    • forms for obtaining your money judgment, such as a Declaration in Support of Default Judgment, and the judgment, and
    • forms for collecting your money judgment, such as the Writ of Execution; and related forms, such as Application for Earnings Withholding Order (wage garnishment).

    This book includes over 30 forms. We clearly explain which forms you need for different situations, and how and when to prepare and serve each form. At the start of each chapter, we’ve included a checklist of the different steps, timelines, and forms you need to prepare for a particular type of eviction, whether for nonpayment of rent or violation of a lease term. And we provide details on how rent control rules enter the mix.

    It might seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that most landlords will primarily be concerned with evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent, and that in many situations, the tenant will leave without contesting the eviction. In these cases, you might only need a few of the forms included here. But we’ve got you covered when it comes to a tenant’s contesting a termination or filing for bankruptcy.

    Types of Forms in This Book

    This book includes both official California court forms, published by the Judicial Council, and Nolo forms prepared by this book’s attorney author. We also include a few official forms that are specific to evictions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Oakland. All the 30-plus forms in this book are current as of the date this book went to press (early 2024).

    We’ve provided downloadable versions of all forms on the Nolo website (see the appendix for advice on accessing the forms and the link to this book’s companion page on the Nolo site). In addition to being available on the Nolo website, current Judicial Council forms are available for free at

    To find a specific Judicial Council form on the Council website, click the category you wish to use, such as “Eviction,” then click the form or forms you wish to use. The Judicial Council forms will have the words Judicial Council of California in the bottom left, the effective date of the form, and a statement on whether the form is mandatory or optional. It will also have a form number in the upper right; for example, the Judgment—Unlawful Detainer is Judicial Council Form UD-110. If you know the title and number of the form you need, simply paste all of that (like the example just above) into an internet search box. The first result will be the form you want. Always use the most current form.

    How to Fill in the Forms in This Book

    We provide detailed instructions on how to fill in each form in the relevant chapters. Also, the appendix explains how to download the forms from the Nolo website. In addition, if you download a form from the Judicial Council site, you’ll find useful information there on filling out one of the official court forms (see www.courts.

    Many of you will prefer to download the relevant forms and complete them online, then print them. If you’re old fashioned and prefer to use a typewriter, you may type in the required information on any of the forms in this book. Courts are also required to accept forms that are filled in by hand.

    The Importance of Attention to Detail

    Because an eviction judgment means tenants won’t have a roof over their heads (and their families’ heads), judges are very demanding of the landlord. The forms must be filled in just right and delivered (“served”) on the tenant properly, and you must adhere to strict timelines. When landlords don’t follow these rules, they often find themselves out of court and having to start over.

    In addition, state and local laws go beyond the basic law that permitted termination of periodic tenancies at the will of the landlord, and now require the landlord to show a “just cause” for eviction. Nonpayment of rent remains a straightforward ground for eviction (with some modifications from COVID relief), but there are few others as clear.

    Paying the Tenant to Leave May Be Cheaper Than Doing an Eviction

    Before you proceed with an unlawful detainer lawsuit, consider that paying the tenant a few hundred or even thousand dollars to leave right away might be cheaper in the long run. Even if you win in court, the time you spend in litigation usually approximates more lost rent.

    For example, paying a tenant $1,000 or more to leave right away (with payment made only as the tenant leaves and hands you the keys) will be cheaper than spending several hundred dollars to file suit and going without rent for four to nine weeks while the tenant contests the lawsuit and stays.

    Why do we emphasize the negatives of evicting a tenant? Because we want you to understand at the outset that even if you properly bring and conduct an unlawful detainer action, you are not assured of winning and having the tenant evicted if the tenant decides to file a defense. In other words, despite the merits of your position, you may face a judge who will hold you to every technicality and bend over backwards to sustain the tenant’s position. A tenant can raise many substantive, as well as procedural, objections to an unlawful detainer suit. Essentially, any breach by you of any duty imposed on landlords by state or local law can be used by your tenant as a defense to your action.

    Unless you thoroughly know your legal rights and duties as a landlord before you go to court, and unless you dot every “i” and cross every “t,” you may end up on the losing side of an eviction. Our advice: Especially if the tenant contests your lawsuit, be meticulous in your preparation.

    Landlords in a Squeeze Play

    As if the procedural rules weren’t difficult enough to understand and apply, the big-picture rules on evictions have changed to favor tenants. New state and local laws go beyond the basic law that used to permit terminating periodic tenancies at the will of the landlord. Now you usually must have a “just cause” (a legally acceptable reason) for eviction. While nonpayment of rent remains a straightforward ground for eviction, others are more complicated. If you are not renewing a lease or are terminating a monthly agreement for no reason (which is still technically legal in many situations), understand that these “no fault” causes are the most difficult of all.

    Note of sanity. Between 80% and 90% of all unlawful detainer actions are won by landlords. Either the tenants fail to contest them, or they lack a real defense but need time to move. So the odds favor relatively smooth sailing in your unlawful detainer action as long as you’re meticulous in your preparation.

    Proceed With Caution When Evicting a Tenant

    The moment relations between you and one of your tenants begins to sour, you will be wise to remember a cardinal truth. Any activity by you that might be construed by your tenants as illegal, threatening, humiliating, abusive, or invasive of their privacy can give rise to a lawsuit against you for big bucks. So, although the unlawful detainer procedure can be tedious, it’s important to understand that it is the only game in town.

    Shortcuts such as threats, intimidation, utility shutoffs, or attempts to physically remove a tenant, are illegal and dangerous. If you resort to them, you may well find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit for such personal injuries as trespass, assault, battery, slander and libel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, harassment, and wrongful eviction—or even criminal charges.

    To avoid liability, we recommend that you do the following:

    • Avoid all unnecessary one-on-one personal contact with the tenant during the eviction process unless it occurs in a structured
    • Keep your written communications to the point and as neutral as you can, even if you are boiling Remember, any manifestations of anger on your part can come back to haunt you legally somewhere down the line.
    • Treat tenants like they have a right to remain on the premises, even though that is not your position.

    Until the day the sheriff or marshal shows up with a writ of possession, the tenants’ home is legally their castle, and you may come to regret any actions on your part that don’t recognize that fact.

    How This Book Will Help You Do an Eviction

    Here’s an overview of how this book is organized and what you need to know each step of the way. The whole eviction process typically takes from three to four months.

    Legal Grounds for Eviction

    Chapters 2 through 5 explain the legal grounds for eviction under the following circumstances:

    • The tenant has failed to leave or pay the rent due within three days of having received from you a written Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit (Chapter 2).
    • A non-rent-controlled month-to-month tenant has failed to leave within the time allowed after having received from you a written notice giving 30 days (or 60 days if the tenant rented for a year or more, or 90 days (certain government-subsidized tenancies (Chapter 3)).
    • The tenant has failed to leave or to comply with a provision of your lease or rental agreement within three days after having received your written three-day notice to correct the violation or quit (Chapter 4).
    • The tenant has sublet the property contrary to the lease or rental agreement (which specifies that a breach is grounds for termination).
    • The tenant has caused or allowed a nuisance or serious damage to the property, or has used the property for an illegal purpose, and has failed to leave within three days of having received from you an unconditional three-day notice to vacate (Chapter 4).
    • A tenant whose fixed-term lease has expired and has not been renewed has failed to leave (Chapter 5).
    • A month-to-month tenant has failed to leave within the stated time after having given you a written 30-day or 60-day notice terminating the tenancy (Chapter 5).

    Court Procedures for Evictions

    After the tenancy is terminated (in almost all cases, by a three-day or other notice), most of the procedures in unlawful detainer lawsuits are the same no matter which reason your suit is based on. Thus, after you read either Chapter 2, 3, 4, or 5, depending on the way you’re terminating the tenancy, go next to the chapters that explain the court procedures. These begin with Chapter 6 on filing a complaint to begin your unlawful detainer lawsuit.

    If Your Tenant Doesn’t Contest the Eviction

    If your tenant doesn’t contest the lawsuit within five days after being served with a copy of your complaint, you will go next to Chapter 7 on getting an eviction judgment by default.

    If Your Tenant Contests the Eviction

    If the tenant does contest your unlawful detainer suit, you will proceed directly to Chapter 8, which tells you how to handle contested actions and when the services of a lawyer are advisable.

    Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Issues

    Chapter 10 discusses your option when a tenant files for bankruptcy, and Chapter 11 covers eviction of tenants in rental property you purchased at a foreclosure sale.

    Collecting a Money Judgment

    Chapter 9, on collecting your money judgment, will be your last stop after you win the lawsuit. If you live in a city with a rent control ordinance, you will be referred to the “Tenant Protections Chart for California,” on, for more detailed information on your locality’s ordinance.

    Abbreviations Used in This Book

    We use these standard abbreviations throughout this book for important statutes and court cases covering evictions. If you want to go beyond this book and read the statutes themselves, see the website maintained by the Legislative Counsel at The Laws and Legal Research section on the Nolo site, www.nolo. com/legal-research, offers advice on finding a law, statute, code section, or case.

    You might find it useful to go to the reference desk at your public library for help; many have good law collections. If your county maintains a law library that’s open to the public (often in a courthouse, state-funded law school, or a state capitol building), you can get help there, too, from law librarians.

    California Codes
    Bus. & Prof. Business & Professions
    Civ. Code Civil
    C.C.P. Civil Procedure
    Evid. Evidence
    Gov’t. Government
    H. & S. Health and Safety
    Federal Laws
    C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations
    U.S.C. United States Code
    Cal. App. California Court of Appeal
    Cal. California Supreme Court
    F. Supp. Federal District Court
    F.2d or F.3d Federal Court of Appeals
    U.S. United States Supreme Court

    Here are two examples of common pathways through this book:

    Example 1: A tenant in your Los Angeles apartment building, Roy, doesn’t pay the rent when it’s due on the first of the month. A few days pass, and you decide he’s probably never going to pay it. You turn to Chapter 2 on nonpayment of rent. Following the instructions, you serve Roy with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit (after checking the current Los Angeles rent control ordinance to see if there are any special requirements you should know about).

    Roy neither pays the rent nor moves in three days. You then turn to Chapter 6, which tells you how to begin an unlawful detainer suit by filing a complaint with the court and serving a copy of the complaint and a summons on the tenant. You are entitled to a default judgment when the other side does not do the things necessary to contest a case. Roy does not respond to your complaint in five court days, and Chapter 6 steers you to Chapter 7 on how to get a default judgment. After you successfully use Chapter 7 to take default judgments both for possession of the premises and the money Roy owes you, your final step is to turn to Chapter 9 for advice on how to collect the money.

    Example 2: You decide that you want to move a new tenant into the house you rent out in Sacramento. The current tenant, Maria, occupies the house under a month-to-month rental agreement. She pays her rent on time, and you’ve never had any serious problems with her, but you would rather have your child living there. You turn to Chapter 3 and follow the instructions to prepare and serve a notice terminating Maria’s tenancy—a 60-day notice because she’s lived there more than a year. Maria doesn’t leave after her 60 days are up, so you go to Chapter 6 for instructions on how to file your unlawful detainer suit. After you serve her with the summons and complaint, Maria files a written response with the court. You then go to Chapter 8 to read about contested lawsuits.

    Statewide Rent Control: The Tenant Protection Act of 2019

    State law now protects most residential tenancies of one year or more from unrestricted rental increases or termination without specific reasons. The Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“TPA”) extended a rent “cap” (which affects rent increases but not initial base rents) and eviction control to the entire state where rent control did not already exist. While more and more localities have adopted their own rent control laws, the TPA applies anywhere else.

    Local strict rent control laws already on the books remain unaffected by the law, and tenants covered by those existing laws will generally enjoy greater protections than the new state law provides. The law is written so that when a local ordinance also applies, the landlord must follow the rule that gives the most protection to the tenant.

    For the purpose of evictions, Civil Code Section 1946.2 implements the “just cause” limitations. They prohibit termination of a tenant who has lived in the unit for at least 12 months unless the landlord has a “just cause.” The just causes include both tenant at-fault behavior (such as repeated late rent) and no-fault reasons (like owner move-ins).

    Some properties and landlords are exempt from just cause restrictions. These are:

    • Owner-occupied single family dwellings, subject to some limitations described
    • A duplex in which the owner occupies one of the units as the owner’s principal place of residence, from the beginning of the
    • Tenancies where none of the tenants have resided in the unit for twelve months or more. (The law does not provide any tenant protection for short-term occupancies of less than one year).
    • Units that are “separately alienable from title” (that’s a standalone property that can be sold on its own), but only if the owner is an individual and not a corporation or Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
    • Owner-occupied shared housing with common bathroom or kitchen facilities for use by the tenants; or owner-occupied properties with no more than two in-law units.

    Just Cause Termination Protections

    Civil Code Section 1946.2 limits the reasons for terminating tenancies where all tenants have occupied the unit continuously for 12 months. If the tenants have changed during the first year, just cause protections attach when at least one of the tenants has occupied the unit for 24 months or more.

    The main “at fault” causes do not differ from the termination reasons set out in the standard lease in Nolo’s books. Tenants must still pay the rent, uphold their obligations under the lease, and not cause problems for the landlord or neighbors.

    The causes listed in the statewide law include:

    • nonpayment of rent
    • an uncured or incurable material breach of the lease after a written notice to correct the breach
    • maintaining or committing a nuisance or waste
    • criminal activity on the property or threats of harm to the landlord or agents
    • assigning or subletting in violation of the lease
    • refusal to allow a lawful entry under Civil Code § 1954
    • failing to move out after giving the landlord a notice to terminate under C.C.P. § 1161
    • using the unit for an unlawful purpose (illegal activity like drug dealing, or zoning code violations like operating a non-permitted business)
    • for resident managers and maintenance or cleaning staff, failing to move out after the landlord has terminated the tenant’s employment, agency, or license, and
    • refusing to sign a new lease that is similar to the old lease.

    Landlords can also terminate the lease for certain “no-fault” reasons (when the tenant has done nothing wrong), but must compensate the tenant for relocation expenses equal to one month’s rent. No-fault termination causes include:

    • an owner’s or relative’s intent to occupy the unit, provided that the lease contains a notice of that possibility
    • the landlord’s planned withdrawal of the unit from the rental market
    • notice from the government to vacate based on the need to address a violation of health or safety or other codes; or any other court or administrative order that requires vacating the unit, and
    • the planned demolition or substantial remodeling of the unit (substantial remodeling does not include cosmetic upgrades).

    Beginning in April 2024 penalties will result when landlords misuse the no-fault just cause limitations. The new requirements affect owner or relative move-in just cause, demolition, and removal of units from rental housing use. In addition, penalties for wrongful eviction have been added, including treble damages.

    The TPA also affects notice requirements. Any termination notice must include a statement of the cause that forms the basis for termination, as well as the tenant’s rights to relocation assistance.

    For an in-depth analysis of the TPA, see The California Landlord’s Law Book: Rights & Responsibilities, Chapter 4.

    Evictions in Cities With Rent Control and Others

    In addition to the TPA, local ordinances in many California cities address evictions—specifying under what circumstances you may proceed, and how to proceed. Most of these cities also have rent control ordinances, but not all, as you’ll see below.

    Nolo maintains a comprehensive chart that lists local rent control and eviction protection laws. To see whether your locality has such laws, visit and choose “Articles” on the home page. Search for “Updates on California Rent Control and Rent Stabilization Laws.” Within that article, you’ll see a link to the “Rent Control Chart for California.”

    Cities With Rent Control

    Local rent control laws affect evictions in two important ways: First, many (but not all) rent control ordinances and regulations impose important restrictions or additional procedural requirements on evictions. For example, the ordinances of many cities require a landlord to have a “just cause” (good reason) to evict a tenant, even for rental units that are exempt from rent control. Local ordinances commonly require tenancy termination notices and complaints to contain statements not required by state law.

    Second, any violation of any provision of a rent control law might provide a tenant with a defense to your eviction lawsuit. Even a failure to register your rental units with the local rent board, if that is required under the ordinance, might provide a tenant with a successful defense against an eviction suit. As noted in the Companion section earlier, check the chart, Tenant Protections Chart for California, to see the requirements that state law or each rent control city imposes on eviction lawsuits—such as any applicable registration requirements or extra information required in three-day or other termination notices or in the eviction complaint itself.

    In most cases, you can edit the forms in our book to comply with your rent control ordinance requirement for extra information, but if you have any questions, consult with an attorney experienced in rent control in your community.

    No two cities’ rent control ordinances are identical. Within the space of one book, we can write instructions and forms for use only by the majority of California landlords. We cannot include additional sets that are tailor-made for use in all of the cities that have rent regulations and impose additional requirements when it comes to filling out forms.

    Your rent control ordinance might affect almost every step in your eviction proceeding. If you do not conform your notices and court filings to your ordinance’s requirements, it’s very likely that your case will be tossed out or lost, perhaps after you’ve spent considerable time and effort.

    We cannot say this strongly enough: Read your rent control ordinance and any rules or regulations before you begin an unlawful detainer proceeding and before you use any of the forms in this book. Most rent control authorities maintain a web page with descriptions of the law, forms, and other information. You should always check the websites

    for the rent control authority in your area and look for updates. Yesterday’s rules become yesterday’s news very quickly; and cities without just cause can impose these requirements with very little notice or fanfare.

    Just Cause Protection Without Rent Control

    Three cities without rent control—San Diego, Glendale (partial rent control), and Maywood— also restrict evictions. These cities’ rules do not affect the procedure for evicting with a three-day notice based on nonpayment of non-COVID classified rent or another breach, or commission of waste or nuisance. They do affect evictions based on 30-day or 60-day terminations of month-to-month tenancies. (See “Checklist for 30- or 60-Day Notice Eviction” in Chapter 3.)

    Reading Your Rent Control Ordinance

    The rent control chart that you can access via a link on this book’s companion page summarizes the major features of California’s local rent control laws. We recommend you check an ordinance itself and always make sure it hasn’t changed since this chart was printed. Here are a few hints about reading and understanding rent control ordinances.

    Almost all rent control ordinances begin with a statement of purpose, followed by definitions of terms used in them. If such terms as “rental unit” and “landlord” aren’t defined specifically enough to tell you who and what is covered by the ordinance, another section dealing with applicability of the ordinance usually follows. After that, the ordinance usually sets out the structure and rules of the rent board and will say whether landlords must register their properties with the board. Your ordinance probably then has a section entitled something like “Annual Increases” or “General Rent Ceiling.”

    Following the rent sections should be a section on “Individual Adjustments” or “Hardship Adjustments,” which tells landlords how to get an increase over and above any general across- the-board increase. Finally, any requirement that landlords show “just cause” for eviction should be found under a section entitled “Just (or Good) Cause for Eviction.” It will contain a list of the permissible reasons for eviction, along with any extra requirements for eviction notices.

    Before beginning an eviction, be sure you have complied with your rent control ordinance. Check for:

    • Registration requirements. If the landlord is required to register the unit with the rent board but didn’t, you may be able to win an eviction lawsuit.
    • Rent increase restrictions. Read the individual adjustments section to see if the landlord must apply to the rent board for increases over a certain amount. If so, make sure any rent increases were properly applied for and legal.
    • Special notice requirements. Check both the general and individual rent adjustment sections, as well as any regulations adopted by the rent board, for special notice requirements for rent increase notices, or for warning requirements prior to serving a termination notice for cause.
    • Just cause requirements. This is crucial; if applicable, a landlord can evict only for one of the permissible reasons, and must comply with any additional notice requirements. If a landlord wants to evict tenants in order to demolish the building or simply go out of business, the landlord may do so under the Ellis Act (Gov’t. Code §§ 7060–7060.7), even if this reason isn’t listed in the ordinance. Note: Ellis Act terminations are outside of the scope of this book. They are often fraught and hypertechnical and need an experienced lawyer for proper handling.

    The rules might change due to declared states of emergency or the enactment of temporary measures.

    • Declared states of emergency. In response to a disaster, the Governor or local officials can declare a state of emergency, prohibiting price gouging on basic goods and services— including rent.
    • Temporary ordinances. Cities and counties may enact temporary ordinances that expire unless later made Our chart does not include temporary ordinances. To check for temporary ordinances, contact your city or county.

    Drug Dealing

    Tenants who deal in illegal drugs can create problems for a building or neighborhood in short order. In some cases, a landlord who fails to evict a tenant who deals illegal drugs on the property can face lawsuits from other tenants, neighbors, and local authorities. Landlords have been held liable for tens of thousands of dollars in damages for failing to evict a drug-dealing tenant where those activities have harmed other tenants or neighbors. A landlord can also face loss of the property in some types of forfeiture proceedings with law enforcement.

    When it’s an unregulated month-to-month tenancy, you can terminate the tenancy with a 30-day notice (or 60-day notice if the tenant has stayed a year or more—see Chapter 3) without just cause if you suspect illegal drug activity by the tenant or any members of the tenant’s family. (If the tenant has a fixed-term lease, you will have to follow the procedures in Chapter 4.)

    Evictions for drug dealing will be more difficult with “just cause eviction” provisions, because you may have to prove the tenant guilty of drug dealing or at least creating a serious threat to the health and safety of other tenants in the building. This can be difficult. Nevertheless, landlords faced with a drug-dealing tenant should begin gathering available evidence against the drug dealer— including obtaining cooperation from tenants and neighbors by securing possible testimony concerning heavy traffic at odd hours, by installing security cameras in common areas, or engaging professional investigators to document a case.

    Evicting Roommates

    This book was written with the small property owner in mind, such as an owner of a modest apartment complex or a single-family rental.

    However, some of our readers have used this book to evict a roommate.

    If you want to use this book to evict a room- mate, you must be the original tenant (or the one who has signed a lease or rental agreement with the landlord), and the roommate you want to evict must be your “subtenant.” A subtenant is usually someone who is renting part of your place from you and paying rent to you instead of your landlord. In this relationship, you are the “landlord” and your roommate is your “tenant.”

    A tenant can’t evict a roommate if both parties are “cotenants.” You are cotenants if you and your roommate both signed the lease or rental agreement, or you each pay rent directly to the landlord.

    Example 1: Marlena Mastertenant rents a two-bedroom house from Oscar Owner for $1,600 a month. Marlena rents one of the bedrooms (plus half the common areas such as kitchen, bathroom, and hallways) to Susie Subtenant for $700 a month. Marlena is the tenant and Susie is the subtenant. Marlena can use the procedures in this book to evict Susie if Susie doesn’t pay her rent. In the unlawful detainer complaint (see “Preparing the Complaint,” Item 4, in Chapter 6), Marlena should list herself as “lessee/sublessor” or “master tenant.”

    Example 2: Tom Tenant and Tami Tenant (brother and sister) jointly rent a two-bedroom apartment from Louise Landlord. They moved in at the same time and both of them signed the lease. They are both Louise’s tenants. Because neither Tom nor Tami are each other’s subtenant, they cannot use this book to evict one or the other.

    If you have any questions about legal relation- ships with roommates, see The California Landlord’s Law Book: Rights & Responsibilities, by Nils Rosenquest (Nolo).

    The legal relationship between roommates is often unclear. For example, if one tenant moved in first, is the second occupant a subtenant because she negotiated with and rented from the first tenant, or a cotenant because she claims to have a separate verbal understanding with the owner regarding rent? If in doubt, see a lawyer before using this book to evict a roommate you claim is your subtenant.

    Evicting a Resident Manager

    When you fire resident managers, or when they quit, you will often want them to move out of your property, particularly if they occupy a special manager’s unit or if the firing or quitting has generated (or resulted from) ill will. Eviction lawsuits against former managers can be extremely complicated. This is especially true if you have a management agreement that requires good cause for termination of employment or a certain period of notice. Such lawsuits can also be complicated where you have used a single combined management/rental agreement or if local rent control laws impose special requirements. While all rent control cities do allow eviction of fired managers, some cities impose restrictions on it.

    This section outlines some of the basic issues involved in evicting a resident manager. We do not, and cannot, provide you complete advice on how to evict a resident manager. In many cases, you will need an experienced attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law to evict a former manager, particularly if the ex-manager questions whether the firing was legally effective or proper. (See “Attorneys and Eviction Services,” below, for more on the subject.)

    Separate Management and Rental Agreements

    To evict a tenant-manager with whom you signed separate management and month-to-month rental agreements (which allows you to terminate the employment at any time), you will have to give a normal 30-day written termination notice, or a 60-day notice if the tenant-manager stayed for a year or more, subject in either case to any just cause eviction requirements in rent control cities. (See Chapter 3.) If the tenant has a separate fixed- term lease, you cannot terminate the tenancy until the lease expires.

    Single Management/Rental Agreement

    What happens to the tenancy when you fire a manager (or the manager quits) depends on the kind of agreement you and the manager had.

    When the Manager Occupied a Special Manager’s Unit

    If your manager occupies a specially constructed manager’s unit (such as one with a reception area or built-in desk) that must be used by the manager, or receives an apartment rent-free as part or all of the compensation, your ability to evict the ex-manager depends on:

    • the terms of the management/rental agreement, and
    • local rent control provisions.

    If the agreement says nothing about a tenancy continuing if the manager quits or is fired, terminating the employment also terminates the occupancy. You can insist that the ex-manager leave right away, without serving any three-day or other termination notice, and can file an eviction lawsuit the next day if the ex-manager refuses to leave. (See C.C.P. § 1161 (1) and Lombardo v. Santa Monica Y.M.C.A. (1985) 169 Cal.App.3d 529, 541.) (See the “Checklist for Uncontested ‘No-Notice’ Eviction” in Chapter 5.)

    The just cause eviction provisions of any applicable rent control law, however, might still require a separate notice or otherwise restrict your ability to evict a fired manager.

    Evicting a terminated employee, particularly in a rent control city, falls into the most difficult type of eviction category, and in rent control cities you should engage a qualified attorney. Succeeding at trial often depends upon the manager’s occupancy classification. Is the manager a “tenant” or a “licensee”? A licensee has only the right to occupy an apartment, and does not have the same rights as tenants to exclusive possession or rent control protection.

    Licensee status avoids most tenancy problems, but also has limitations. Among other things, the employer cannot charge any rent or fee for use of the apartment to a licensee. You need the assistance of a qualified attorney to draft the license agreement and the employment agreement.

    A manager’s status as a licensee worked to the advantage of the employer/landlord in the following case, which arose in a rent control city. In Chan v. Antepenko (1988) 203 Cal.App.3d Supp 21, 25-26, the court permitted the eviction of the manager where the manager was required to live in the apartment rent free as a term of employment. The court decided the manager was not technically a “tenant” under the rent control ordinance, but a licensee occupying the apartment with the permission of the owner. This kept the manager’s occupancy from falling under rent control.

    Evicting a Lodger

    A lodger, or roomer, is someone who rents a room in a house that you own and live in. The rules for evicting a lodger are covered by California Civil Code § 1946.5 and Penal Code §§ 602.3 and 837 and apply only if you rent to one lodger. In addition, you must have overall control of the dwelling unit and have retained a right of access to areas occupied by the lodger.

    If you have two or more lodgers, you must use the unlawful detainer procedures described in this book. The following material applies only if you rent to one lodger.

    If your lodger is a month-to-month tenant and you want to terminate the tenancy, you can serve the lodger with a 30-day notice, as explained in Chapter 3. You may also use a shortcut (not available to landlords serving nonlodger tenants) and send the notice by certified or registered mail, restricted delivery, with a return receipt requested.

    A lodger who doesn’t leave at the end of the notice period is guilty of an infraction. Technically, this entitles you to do a citizen’s arrest, which means that you can eject the lodger using reasonable, but not deadly, force. However, we strongly advise against this tactic, and instead suggest calling local law enforcement to handle the situation. Have a copy of your dated termination notice available. Be aware that many local police do not know the procedures for evicting lodgers or might not want to get involved, fearing potential liability for improperly ousting someone who later claims he or she was, in fact, a tenant. The police may insist that you go through the normal unlawful detainer lawsuit process—which will result in a court order authorizing the police or sheriff to evict the lodger. If the lodger has stayed for a year or more and the police won’t evict on your 30-day notice, you will have to start all over with a 60-day notice according to a different law, Civ. Code § 1946.1. Check with your chief of police to find out how this issue is handled.

    If you need to evict “for cause”—that is, for failing to pay the rent or violation of the rental agreement— you can serve your lodger with a three-day notice, but if the lodger doesn’t leave, you will have to go through an unlawful detainer lawsuit as explained in this book. You cannot hand your copy of the three-day notice to the local police and ask them to remove the lodger. For this reason, you might want to use the less complicated route of the 30-day notice, in hopes that, if the lodger refuses to budge, local law enforcement will enforce your termination notice.

    Finally, if your lodger has a lease, you cannot evict unless he or she has failed to pay the rent, violated a term of the lease, or engaged in illegal activity. In these situations, you will need to use a 30-day or 60-day notice. If the lodger fails to vacate, you must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in order to get the lodger out.

    Landlords must be very careful when dealing with managers who are arguably licensees. As you have seen, it’s to the landlord’s advantage to establish and maintain the manager’s status as a licensee. But watch out: Sending a rent notice to the manager asking for payment of rent after the termination can convert the manager from a pure licensee to a rent-controlled tenant. The notice creates a new tenancy, giving tenant rights to the terminated manager. (Karz v. Meecham (1981) 120 Cal.App.3d Supp 1.)

    When the Manager Didn’t Occupy a Manager’s Unit

    If the manager was simply compensated by a rent reduction, and you did not make a separate employment agreement, there may be confusion as to whether the rent can be “increased” after you’ve fired the manager.

    If an ex-manager refuses to pay the full rent, you will have to serve a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, demanding the unpaid rent. If the fired manager still won’t pay, you’ll have to follow up with an eviction lawsuit. (See Chapter 2.)

    Attorneys and Eviction Services

    While you can do most evictions yourself, in a few circumstances you might want to consult an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law:

    • The property you own is too far from where you live. Because you must file an eviction lawsuit where the property is located, the time and travel involved in representing yourself may be great.
    • Your tenant is already represented by a lawyer, even before you proceed with an eviction.
    • Your property is under Section 8 or is subject to rent control and local ordinances governing evictions.
    • The tenant you are evicting is an ex-manager whom you have fired.
    • Your tenant contests the eviction in court. (See Chapter 8 for more details on hiring an attorney in contested cases.)
    • Your tenant files for bankruptcy or you purchased the rental property at (See Chapter 10 and Chapter 11.)

    Hiring an Attorney to Handle or Assist With an Eviction

    Finding a good, reasonably priced lawyer expert in residential evictions is not always an easy task. If you just pick a name out of an online listing, you may find someone who charges too much or who’s not qualified to deal with your particular problem. The best way to find a suitable attorney is through a trusted person who has had a satisfactory experience with one. Your best referral sources are other landlords in your area. If you talk to a few landlords, or check with your local landlords’ association, you’ll likely come away with several leads on good lawyers experienced in landlord- tenant law and evictions.

    Find a lawyer at or Two sites that are part of the Nolo family, and, provide excellent and free lawyer directories. These directories allow you to search by location and area of law, and list detailed information about and reviews of lawyers.

    California permits attorneys to accept partial or “limited scope” representation for limited tasks, such as drafting an agreement, reviewing pleadings, or representing the landlord at a settlement conference but not a trial (or, representing the client at trial but not at a settlement conference). (The Notice of Limited Scope Representation is contained in the official Judicial Council Form MC-950.)

    You can also submit information about your legal issue to several local attorneys who handle landlord-tenant issues, and then pick the lawyer you’d like to work with. (For advice on hiring and working with lawyers, including what to ask a prospective attorney, see

    How you pay your lawyer depends on the type of legal services you need and the amount of legal work you have. The lawyer might charge an hourly rate to represent you in a contested eviction case, or a flat fee to represent you in court for a routine eviction for nonpayment of rent. In any case, always ask for a written fee agreement, explaining all fees (including work by legal assistants and court filing fees) and how costs will be billed and paid. A written agreement will help prevent disputes about legal fees and clarify the relationship you expect to have with the attorney and the services the lawyer will provide. Some agreements state how each of you can end the agreement and explain how you expect to work together, such as decisions the lawyer can make alone and those that require your approval.

    Using an Eviction Service

    Filing and following through with an eviction lawsuit involves filling out a number of legal forms. And once the forms are filed with the court, they must be served on the tenant. You can do it yourself, using all the forms and instructions in this book, or you can hire a lawyer. There is also a third route: getting help with the paperwork, filing, and service from an eviction service run by nonlawyers, known as “legal typing services,” “independent paralegals,” or “unlawful detainer assistants.”

    For a flat fee that is usually much lower than what lawyers charge, nonlawyer eviction services take the basic information from you, provide the appropriate eviction forms, and fill them out according to your instructions. This normally involves filling in your eviction papers so they’ll be accepted by the court, arranging for filing, and then serving the papers on the tenant.

    Eviction services cannot give legal advice about the requirements of your case and can’t represent you in court—only you or your lawyers can present your case in court. Most eviction services handle only routine cases, and they are not helpful in more complex eviction cases or where the tenant contests the eviction in court.

    Eviction services must be registered as “unlawful detainer assistants” with the county in which they operate, and must also be bonded or insured. (Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 6400-6415.) In addition, all court papers filed by an “unlawful detainer assistant” must indicate that person’s name, address, and county registration number.

    To find an eviction service, check with a local landlords’ association or look online or in the yellow pages under “eviction services” or “paralegals.” Be sure the eviction service is reputable and experienced, as well as reasonably priced. If the service isn’t registered, don’t use it. Ask for references and check them.

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By Doris T.

This is a must have book for landlords. This is the 3rd one I have purchased over the years to stay current with the law. It makes very complex forms easy to fill out.

Posted on 4/1/2024

Extremely Helpful

By Tina R.

The books is very helpful. The only thing missing was if the Attachment 15 is also served with the S&C.

Posted on 4/1/2024

Very Informative

By Anonymous

Information in this book is very well put together and informative. This will save me a lot of time standing in line at the courthouse, waiting to speak with an attorney.

Posted on 4/1/2024

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