California Eviction Process

The eviction process in California is more than forcing a tenant to leave. Several complexities need to be followed. If you are the landlord trying to get your property back or the tenant facing eviction, there are several steps and costs you need to be aware of.

Entering into 2024, things might have changed a bit, though it is still essential for landlords to stay current with the latest procedures. If you’re wondering about the ins and outs of the California eviction process and what it might cost, this blog is for you! 

Let’s explore all the steps involved, but first, let’s start with its significance! 

Significant California Eviction Laws?

California eviction laws serve a dual significance: 

These laws create structured systems that outline the whole procedure and identify legitimate reasons for eviction. Beyond the individual cases, they contribute to maintaining stability in the rental market. 

Steps of Eviction

The California eviction process contains several steps, as listed below. 

Give The Tenant(s) adequate a Legal Notice

Whether foreseen or unexpected, it is essential to give them a notice outlining valid legal reasons. It is considered a warning for the tenant and a chance to fix whatever’s wrong or move out before things get legal. 

The state laws allow landlords to start a court case under the following circumstances. 

If the tenant consistently fails to pay rent on time or stops paying altogether. 

When the tenant intentionally violates the lease or rental agreement. For instance, they started living with a new person without telling the landlord.

If the tenant causes significant damage to the property.

If the tenant engages in illegal activities on the property.

If the tenant disturbs other members living in the house.

If the landlord plans to move into the rental property.

The landlord calls off or cancels the rental agreement by providing proper notice.

The tenant still lives in the property after the lease expires.

Important: The landlords can not evict tenants for several reasons described below.

Discriminatory factors such as race, sex, religion, origin, marital status, sexual orientation, children number, job, or physical or mental disability. Also, they can not do anything violent and force them to move out. So, everything must be done legally.

Start a Court Case

If the tenant fails to abide by the notice, you can begin the eviction process, legally known as an unlawful detainer case.

All you need to do is fill out the necessary forms to request the judge to make a decision that involves 

Important: Before starting the eviction process, ensure that the notice deadline has passed, which varies on the different types of notices given. Here’s a detailed explanation.

To calculate the deadline, count the days starting from the day after the Notice was delivered to the tenant, whether handed to them or mailed.

After getting this clarity, gather the necessary documents that include:

Now, to initiate the eviction case, complete the following court forms:

Also, you have to pay a filing fee varying from $240 to $450, depending on the amount of back rent owed. If you cannot afford the fee, complete a fee waiver form.

If you need any assistance, contact the court clerk’s office, check the court’s website, or consult the Self-Help Center. But make sure to do everything properly as this is a legal matter.

Request a Trial Date or Default Judgment

Once you’ve given your tenant the Summons and Complaint forms, they have a period of 5 days (Saturdays, Sundays, or court holidays are excluded) to submit a response to the court or 15 days if they were not served in person.

The next steps in the case will depend on the tenant’s action.

It’s advisable to initiate this process as early as possible because the tenant can file an answer at any time before you formally request a default. Once done, you can proceed to request a Clerk’s Judgment of Possession by filling out the forms below.

  1. Request for Entry of Default (After this form is filed, the tenant will not be able to file an Answer)
  2. Judgment-Unlawful Detainer (This form entails that you have the authority and right to get your home back)
  3. Writ of Possession of Real Property (This form is given to the sheriff {Law officer}for eviction.)

They can either challenge the eviction or share their side of the story in court. After the response is filed, the court clerk will send you a letter with the trial date.

If there’s unpaid rent owed, you can file separate small claims or civil cases to pursue the money.

After the Judge’s Decision

If the judge decides in your favor, the next step is to complete court forms to have the tenant move out and collect any owed money.

For further procedure, complete a Writ of Execution, which permits the sheriff to ensure the tenant leaves your property. The tenant will be given five days to move out; if they don’t, the sheriff will remove them.

If the judge rules against you, your tenant can remain in the home but must adhere to the rental agreement. The judge may also order you to cover your tenant’s costs, like filing fees and attorney fees, and may mandate repairs to the property.

Costs Involved In the California Eviction Process 

There are several expenses involved in the California eviction process. Below is the complete breakdown.

The first step in the eviction process costs involves court filing fees. It will vary between $250 to $450, depending on the amount the landlord is claiming.

Also, counties like San Francisco, Riverside, and San Bernardino may have their own additional filing fees, ranging from $240 to $410. So, the total cost will depend on the county where the property is located.

Getting through the eviction process means you’ll need a lawyer by your side. Right? The cost of legal help can vary, though. Depending on the lawyer and how they charge, you might find yourself paying anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.

Some lawyers also charge on an hourly basis, so the more time they spend on your case, the more it’ll cost.

This is one of the most important cost factors during the California eviction process. The tenant’s eviction can take a few months, and during this time, Landlords can not collect the rent. After all that, they might struggle to find new tenants quickly, meaning they keep losing rent.

Let’s say you have won the case, but that doesn’t mean you are liable to get back the entire amount. What you might get is 40-50% of the lost rent. Where does the rest of the amount go?

The collections company, which talks directly to the tenant, keeps a big chunk, around 50 to 60%. All these things get combined, and landlords end up dealing with significant financial issues.

Important: This fee is consistent across all countries in California.

During an eviction, some tenants do not treat your property so kindly. They may intentionally cause damage, and fixing that damage can cost landlords quite a bit. It may be several hundred dollars or even more.

If either the landlord or the tenant decides to challenge the court’s decision, they can issue a “Notice of Appeal.” But filling that will cost $225, which is the same no matter which country in California you’re dealing with.


In wrapping up, the California eviction process has its fair share of costs and steps, which we have discussed in detail above. Every case is different, and knowing what you can and can’t do is vital. That’s why seeking legal advice for California eviction matters is very important.

For that, Sunset Property Management is here! We are the San Diego property management professionals who will guide you throughout the eviction process so you can clearly understand all the legalities involved.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. What is the eviction process in California?

    The eviction process in California typically involves serving the tenant with a notice, filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit, and obtaining a court order for eviction.

  2. Will the eviction process be lengthy?

    The timeline varies, but it typically takes 30-45 days or longer, depending on factors such as court processing times and tenant response.

  3. May I remove my tenant with a court order in hand?

    No, a landlord cannot forcibly evict a tenant without a court order. Self-help eviction methods are illegal in California.

  4. Who can tell what a valid cause for removing a tenant in California?

    Valid reasons, or “just causes,” for eviction in California include non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, illegal activities on the premises, or lease expiration. There may be Tax Consequences!


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