With California’s new rent control ordinances and eviction restrictions, it’s important to know if you can legally ask a tenant to vacate your property. Before you start the process of unlawful detainer and displace your tenants, know you’re in the right. Read on for specific information about lawful evictions in California.
How to Avoid Wrongful Eviction
Check the length of notice period required to be given to your tenant prior to pursuing eviction, typically 30 to 90 days. In certain circumstances, your local ordinance may require that you provide extra time for the tenant to rectify the situation or vacate the premises, such as with disabled tenants or senior citizens.
Always provide tenants written notice of the situation that needs to be corrected and how you prefer that they do so. Keep this notice for your own records. Under new California law, unless the tenant is engaging in extremely negligent or criminal behaviors (such as those listed in the next section), you must give them an opportunity to retain their residency. You may seek mediation services to negotiate rent or other solution before pursuing an unlawful detainer.
That being said, always verify that you have just legal cause to remove the tenant. For example, are you required to offer minimum lease terms? Is the housing fit to live in? Do recent raises in rental price meet the new requirements? Be sure your tenant doesn’t have a right to claim wrongful eviction.
Examples of Just Cause for Eviction:
- Repeated violation of lease terms (i.e. failure to pay rent, unauthorized pets or roommates, etc.)
- Illegal activities, such as business operation or drug deals
- Nuisance behaviors, such as noise pollution or neighbor harassment
- Property damage
- Substantial unit remodels (in this instance, check whether you as a landlord must provide the resident another unit, relocation reimbursements, or moving expenses)
Evicting for Failure to Pay
More than 20 percent of Californians currently pay over half their income for their residence, making rent the “least affordable it’s ever been.” The pressures of Ventura County’s market rate for rental housing may put you in a position where your tenants refuse payments or are unable to make them. Always honor lease clauses about grace periods for late rent and give residents ample opportunity to reimburse you after you’ve given notice of late payment.
To make sure you can legally ask your tenant to pay the amount due, brush up on California’s city-by-city rental control laws. Recent rent control laws across California have established the effort to stabilize housing prices and preserve the federal government’s recommendation for a living standard (30 percent of a tenant’s income). For example, new California laws cap rental raises at 5 percent, unless you manage a single-family rental.
Renters’ Rights in a Single-Family Home
Single-family rentals are among those that are exempt from new rent control laws, along with condos and units built after February 1, 1995. If you rent out this type of property, you’re not locked into your rates. How often and how much you can raise the rent can be decided between tenant turnover, whether the vacancy was voluntary or involuntary. That being said, you still can’t a evict a tenant without just cause, meaning you can face a criminal lawsuit if you evict a tenant just to hike your unit prices.
Only when your tenant’s fixed-term lease has ended or you’ve given ample notice to a tenant in a month-to-month lease can you legally ask a tenant to vacate your property without a serious cause.
Retaliation, Discrimination, and Intimidation
Whichever type of property you manage, eviction can never be a “punishment.” As a landlord, you’re not permitted to raise the rent or threaten eviction as retaliation for a tenant exercising a legal right, such as requesting repairs. You also cannot raise the rent or threaten eviction as a discriminatory measure, i.e. a bias towards race, religion, or legal source of income.
You also may not threaten or harass your tenant out of your property. This includes locking the resident out of the unit, removing their belongings, shutting off their utilities to coerce them out of the unit, or physically removing the tenant yourself. You may only attempt to vacate a residence through the court with a documented paper trail of due notice, never by your own means.
Wrongful or unconditional eviction can make you liable for a lawsuit. Your tenant can sue for slander, assault, emotional distress, and more. Take the responsible course of action. Contact Real Property Management Ventura County to handle evictions on your behalf.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.