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How Do I Evict a Tenant in San Francisco?


Your Step-by-Step Guide to California Eviction

Evicting a tenant in California can be a complex and challenging process. It can become a complicated journey, but with the right guidance from our San Francisco tenant eviction attorney, it can be managed smoothly. Whether you’re a new landlord or have been renting out properties for years, understanding the legal requirements for eviction is essential to protect your rights. 

It’s important to recognize that eviction is a legal process with strict guidelines. This article will walk you through the steps involved in the eviction process, so you can reclaim your property without unnecessary stress.

Quick Summary:

  • Eviction is a legal process through which a landlord removes a tenant from a rental property for reasons specified by law.
  • Grounds for eviction include nonpayment of rent, lease violations, expired leases, disruptive behavior or illegal activity, failure to vacate, and property damage.
  • Evicting a tenant involves following legal procedures, such as serving proper notices, filing an unlawful detainer lawsuit, attending court hearings, obtaining a writ of possession, and handling post-eviction matters.
  • Serving proper notice is a crucial step in the eviction process to inform tenants of the reason for eviction and provide them with an opportunity to address the issue or move out.

What is Eviction?

Eviction is a legal process that allows a landlord to remove a tenant from a rental property. It typically starts when the landlord believes the tenant has violated the terms of the lease agreement. To evict a tenant, the landlord must follow specific steps outlined by law.

Following legal procedures is essential for both landlords and tenants during the eviction process. For landlords, it ensures that they can lawfully remove a tenant from their property without facing legal consequences. For tenants, it protects their rights and ensures that they are treated fairly under the law.

What are the Grounds for Eviction?

There are specific reasons, called “grounds,” that allow landlords to evict tenants under the law. Here are some of the most common grounds for eviction in the US:

Nonpayment of Rent

Nonpayment of rent, habitually late payment, or frequent bounced checks are some of the most common reasons for eviction. If a tenant falls behind on rent payments, the landlord has the right to start the eviction process.

Lease Violations

Another reason for eviction is when a tenant breaks the rules outlined in their lease agreement. This could include things like having pets when the lease says no pets, causing disturbances, or subletting the property without permission.

Expired Lease

If a tenant’s lease term comes to an end, but they don’t move out or renew the lease, the landlord may decide to evict them. Even though the lease is over, the tenant is still required to leave unless a new agreement is reached.

Disruptive Behavior or Illegal Activity

Landlords can also evict tenants if they engage in illegal activities or cause significant disturbances that disrupt the comfort, safety, peace and enjoyment of other tenants or neighbors. Examples include drug dealing, excessive noise, or damaging property.

Failure to Vacate

If a tenant stays in the rental property after their lease ends or after receiving proper notice to vacate, the landlord may initiate eviction proceedings to regain possession of the property.

Property Damage

Normal wear-and-tear happens – carpets get a little faded, and walls get a few scuffs. But if your tenant trashes the place beyond reasonable use, like punching holes in walls or letting the bathtub overflow and damage the floor, eviction might be an option.

How Do I Evict a Tenant in California?

Evicting a tenant in California can be a complicated process, but it’s important to know the steps to take if you find yourself in this situation. Here are the steps on how to evict a tenant:

1. Understand Your Rights and Responsibilities

Before beginning the eviction process, it’s crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. Familiarize yourself with the San Francisco Rent Ordinance and other relevant laws to ensure you’re following the proper procedures.

2. Determine Valid Grounds for Eviction

In San Francisco, landlords can only evict tenants for specific reasons outlined in the Rent Ordinance. Valid reasons for eviction include nonpayment of rent, breach of lease terms, illegal activities, and owner move-in. Make sure you have a valid reason before proceeding with eviction.

3. Serve Proper Notice

Once you have valid grounds for eviction, you must serve the tenant with the appropriate notice. In California, before a landlord can recover possession of a unit and/or file a lawsuit, they must first provide tenants with a written notice. 

This notice gives your tenant a chance to fix the problem or move out before you take them to court. If you don’t serve the proper notice, the eviction process could get stalled, costing you time and money. Here are the types of eviction notices:

Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

If a tenant hasn’t paid rent on time, the landlord can give them a “Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.” This notice informs the tenant that they have a certain number of days (usually 3 to 5 days) to pay the overdue rent or vacate the property. The specific timeframe may vary depending on state and local laws.

Notice to Cure or Quit

If a tenant violates the terms of the lease agreement, the landlord can give them a “Notice to Cure or Quit.” This notice gives the tenant a specified period (usually 3 to 10 days) to correct the violation or move out.

Notice to Terminate Tenancy

In some cases, the landlord may want to end the tenancy without specifying a reason, such as at the end of a lease term or for month-to-month tenants. In these situations, the landlord can give the tenant a “Notice to Terminate Tenancy,” which typically requires 30 to 60 days’ notice, depending on state and local laws.

4. File an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit

After the time specified on the notice has elapsed, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer action against you in court, then serve you with the summons and complaint. Once you are served, you have only five calendar days — including weekends and holidays — to file a response with the court. This legal action initiates the eviction process and allows you to seek a court order for the tenant’s removal.

5. Attend Court Hearings

Both you and the tenant will have the opportunity to present your case in court. Be prepared to provide evidence supporting your reasons for eviction, such as lease agreements, rent payment records, and communication with the tenant.

6. Obtain a Writ of Possession

If the court rules in your favor, you will receive a writ of possession, allowing the sheriff to remove the tenant from the property if they refuse to leave voluntarily. Make sure to follow the proper procedures for obtaining the writ and coordinating with law enforcement.

7. Handle Post-Eviction Matters

After the tenant is removed from the property, you’ll need to secure the premises and address any remaining issues, such as cleaning and repairs. Be sure to follow legal procedures for handling abandoned property and disposing of belongings left behind by the tenant.

How Our San Francisco Tenant Eviction Lawyer Can Guide You Through the Eviction Process

Evicting a tenant can be a stressful experience, but with the right knowledge and approach, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Don’t try to deal with the eviction process alone.  Eviction involves complex legal procedures, and even a small mistake can delay the process or get your case dismissed.  

If you’re unsure about any aspect of the eviction process, it’s essential to consult with our San Francisco tenant eviction attorneys at  Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C. who can provide legal guidance based on your situation. We can explain your rights as a landlord and help you understand the legal grounds for eviction

We will review your lease agreement and advise you on the best course of action based on the specific circumstances of your case. We can help you negotiate with the tenant and reach a settlement that is fair and acceptable to both parties, saving you time, money, and stress.

By working with our landlord-tenant law firm, we can make the eviction process more manageable and less stressful. From understanding your rights to navigating court proceedings, we can provide legal guidance and representation every step of the way. Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation and let us help you achieve a successful outcome in your eviction case.

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