Renters' rights can be confusing – there's a lot of erroneous information out there that prevents renters from truly knowing their rights. When it comes to eviction in California there are a lot of protections for renters, so if you get to the point of receiving an eviction notice, you should make sure that it was delivered legally. Similarly for landlords, you should take care to deliver evictions so that they're fully covered within the scope of the law, or you may end up with no course of action.
As a renter in California, if you do nothing to stop an impending eviction, and you end up having to move out, you still have about a month from the filing of the eviction lawsuit before you will be locked out by the sheriff. If you do decide to fight the notice and end up having to move out any way, you can often get an extra two to three months before you have to vacate.
The first step in the eviction process is to deliver an eviction notice to the tenant. The claim then goes to an unlawful detainer lawsuit. If the tenant wins at this stage, they get to stay and the landlord must reimburse them for their legal costs. If the tenant does not win, the Sheriff will give a five-day notice that the tenant will be locked out, at which point the tenant must leave (but can come back for their belongings). While undergoing the process of eviction, the tenant does not pay rent, although they still owe it.
Landlords and tenants alike must follow certain rules and parameters while going through the eviction process, some of which include:
Landlords cannot lock tenants out, take their belongings, remove property, or turn off utilities to try to force them to move. If a landlord does one of these things, he or she is liable for all costs, plus $100 per day that the unlawful behavior continues.
The landlord cannot have the police or Sheriff arrest a tenant instead of going to court. The Sheriff may be used to serve the eviction papers, but anything beyond that awaits the court's determination.
The landlord may not start doing major construction to make it impossible to live on the premises, or otherwise interfere with reasonable peace and quiet.
The landlord cannot threaten to report a tenant to immigration authorities or other law enforcement, nor can he or she make any other threat to get a tenant out.
Furthermore, landlords must give tenants a certain amount of notice – these timeframes differ depending on how long the tenant has lived on the premises and what the city or county's specific laws are – before forcing tenants to leave. It's wise for both landlords and tenants to be aware of the laws in their area and check the legalities of their behavior before and during the eviction process.