San Diego Esquire provides California tenant legal representation throughout the State. We have helped tenants oppose and respond to unlawful detainer actions. Whether you are looking to stay in your rental or promptly leave without receiving an eviction entry on your rental history record, we can help defend your California tenant rights.
California Tenant Eviction Process
The only way your landlord can evict you in California is to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit and obtain a court order. The landlord must first provide you with notice before filing the lawsuit. The notice must clearly identify what you did wrong to warrant an eviction. If your lease is up, the landlord can also decide not to renew the lease and simply provide you with a 30 or 60-day notice to vacate.
If your landlord notifies you that she will file an unlawful detainer eviction for late rent, she must only provide you with a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. If you fail to pay rent or move out within three days, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer action against you.
The landlord also has a right to evict you if you violate the lease agreement. For example, if you have a dog and the lease prohibits pets, the landlord can serve a 3-day notice to perform or quit on you (notice to remove the dog from the premises or move out). The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against you if you fail to perform the identified violation within 3 days.
The landlord will file an unlawful detainer complaint and summons with the local court. The landlord will state facts regarding the lease violation in the complaint. The court summons will tell you to file a written response within a specified time frame after being served.
After you file a response, you or the landlord can request for a trial date to be set. You can submit a response to challenge the eviction. You and the landlord will have the opportunity to present evidence in support of your position at trial.
Consult with an attorney before filing a response to an unlawful detainer action. An unlawful detainer judgment entered against you could negatively impact your credit and result in you being turned down from future housing. San Diego Esquire highly recommends tenants to negotiate a settlement outside of court with the landlord. This will save you time, stress, and money.
How to Fight an Eviction in California
There are several defenses tenants can use to fight an eviction in California. Below are a few defenses you may be able to use:
- Notice was served improperly. California law requires landlords to provide tenants with proper notice to vacate the rental. You can file a Motion to Quash challenging the unlawful detainer complaint based on the grounds that the landlord failed to provide you with sufficient notice.
- The landlord failed to properly maintain the rental unit. Unfortunately, not all landlords maintain rental units in a clean manner. The rental must meet a habitable living standard. For example, the rental must have properly running hot water and the roof must not leak. If the property is uninhabitable, you can make repairs and deduct the amount from the rent or stop paying rent altogether. If the landlord retaliates against you for making the property habitable, you can file a claim against the landlord.
- The landlord evicted the tenant improperly. The landlord must strictly follow California law when evicting a tenant. The landlord cannot change the locks of your rental without first obtaining a Writ of Possession. You can file a lawsuit against the landlord if she fails to follow the proper legal steps in evicting you.
- The landlord discriminates against the tenant. Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants based on race, religion, gender, national origin, familial status, and disability. The Fair Employment and Housing Act also protects tenants from being discriminated against based on their gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition, and age. Contact an attorney immediately if you are evicted based on one of the above protected classes.
California Tenant Legal Document Preparation Service
Contact San Diego Esquire for more information about our legal document preparation services for tenants. We can help you draft a reply to a notice to vacate and unlawful detainer complaint. We can represent you during settlement negotiations with your landlord. We can also complete all the legal documents you need to fight the eviction lawsuit.