tenants' rights during eviction in california

California Tenant Rights During Eviction

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Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Kelvin Nielsen

Are you facing an eviction from your rented premises? If so, here are the rights you have under the California Residential Landlord & Tenant Act.

Just like tenants, landlords in California have a number of responsibilities that they must abide by under the law. Among these is the duty to carry out a proper eviction process when removing a tenant from their rental property.

The following is a guide to the rights California tenants have during eviction.

California Tenant Rights During Eviction

#1: You have a right to be notified.

A landlord must inform you through a written notice that they are looking to evict you from their rental property. In California, the eviction notice must be in either English or Spanish.

It must also mention the reason for the eviction, as well as what the tenant must do within the notice period.

If the landlord is evicting you for failing to pay rent, for instance, the landlord must provide you a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This will notify you that the landlord is evicting you for failing to pay rent, and will give you the option to either pay the rent balance or move out within 3 days.

#2: You have a right to fight the eviction.

If the landlord files an eviction lawsuit in court, you’ll have the opportunity to file an answer. You must file it within 5 business days after being served with a copy of the Summons and Complaint.

To fight the eviction, you must provide a legal reason why you shouldn’t be forced out of the property. For instance, you paid the rent balance within the notice period, didn’t violate the lease as alleged, or the landlord carried out an illegal eviction exercise.

Here is a comprehensive guide on how you can stop, delay, fight, or win an eviction case in California.

#3: You have a right to continue staying at the property until the court has made a determination.

Landlords in California, just like everywhere in the country, cannot force tenants out of their rental premises. The landlord must wait until they have obtained a court order in order to remove you from the property. And even then, it’s only the sheriff that can carry out the physical removal process.

#4: You have a right to a legal eviction process.

Can a landlord evict you for no reason in California? Of course, not!

The landlord must have a legitimate reason for the eviction. Examples of legitimate reasons for tenant eviction include failing to pay rent, engaging in illegal activity while at the rental property, and violating a term of the lease agreement.

Aside from having a legitimate reason for eviction, the landlord must also strictly follow the law from the beginning to the end. The following is a basic overview of the California eviction process.

  • The landlord must serve you an appropriate eviction notice. For instance, if you fail to pay rent, the landlord must serve you a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit.
  • If the matter remains unresolved, the landlord may file an eviction lawsuit in court. And if they do, they must serve you a copy of the Summons and Complaint.
  • You will then get an opportunity to file an answer to the complaint.
  • The court will then set a hearing date and you’ll have an opportunity to present your case.

If the landlord tries to evict you in any other way, you may be able to sue them for wrongful eviction in California.

Additionally, your landlord must not try to you for discriminatory- or retaliatory reasons.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): California Tenant Rights During Eviction

Q: What is wrongful eviction in California?

A: A wrongful eviction in California is one that isn’t justified by law. It may mean that either the landlord didn’t have a legitimate reason to carry out the eviction, or that they violated the tenant’s right during the eviction.

The following are examples of wrongful evictions in California.

  • Evicting a tenant without following the proper procedure, such as having a legal reason.
  • Evicting a tenant due to their race, color, religion, nationality, familial status, or any other protected class.
  • Evicting a tenant as a retaliatory tactic after they exercised a legal right. For instance, California tenants have a right to withhold rent payments due to uninhabitable living conditions. You may not then try to evict the tenant for failing to pay rent.
  • Carrying out a constructive eviction. This is where a landlord creates unbearable conditions for the tenant to force them out.

Q: What is a self-help eviction in California?

A: It’s illegal for landlords to carry out self-help evictions in California. A self-help eviction is where a landlord singularly tries to evict a tenant through illegal methods.

Examples of self-help evictions in California include locking the tenant out, shutting down utilities, or removing the tenant’s personal belongings from the unit.

There are a few situations where a landlord may be able to carry out a self-help eviction in California, though. For example, your landlord may be able to change the locks if they have sufficient reasons to believe you have abandoned the property. But even then, the landlord must still provide you with proper notice before changing the locks.

Q: How much notice does a landlord have to give to evict a tenant in California?

A: The amount of notice to give will depend on the specific reason for eviction. If evicting a tenant for failing to pay rent, you must give them a 3 days’ notice. If evicting a tenant on a month-to-month lease, you must provide them with a 30/60 days’ notice, depending on the length of time they have been renting the property.

Q: What a landlord cannot do in California?

A: There are many things a landlord cannot do in California. From illegal evictions, to illegal security deposit deductions, to illegal rent raises, to unlivable conditions, the guide covers everything.


There you have it – California tenant rights during eviction. If you have reasons to believe the landlord has violated any of these rights, you should seek expert attorney services.

Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.

Sources: CA Civil Code 1940-1954.06, California Tenants Rights Handbook, Consequences for Illegal Evictions,