It’s never fun to talk about evictions, especially for rental property owners who fear and dread them, but we have to discuss the topic because you have to be prepared in case you ever find yourself in the position of having to remove a tenant from your property.
First, the good news: The local economy has been fairly strong, and the eviction rate here at Progressive Property Management is running very low; at less than 1%. We do get calls from owners who hire us specifically to get rid of a tenant who isn’t paying rent or following the terms of the lease agreement. This keeps us present in the court system and practicing our systems and eviction process.
The laws in California have recently changed regarding evictions, but when it comes to just cause eviction, we have noticed that two reasons for eviction are the most common:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Noncompliance with the lease agreement
You may have other very good reasons to evict, such as a tenant engaging in illegal activities at your property or causing excessive and intentional property damage. Since our experience has shown us that missing rental payments and lease violations are the most common eviction reasons, we’re going to focus on those things in today’s blog.
Evicting Long Beach Tenants for Nonpayment of Rent
When tenants are not paying the rent as they agreed in the lease agreement, the eviction process is pretty simple. It’s hard to come up with an acceptable excuse for not paying the rent. Most judges and courts are sympathetic to landlords who are not receiving the rent that their tenants agreed to pay.
The eviction process for nonpayment of rent starts with the Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This has to be filed and served before you can actually move forward with the eviction. Your job as a landlord is to complete the paperwork, which basically states that the tenant did not pay the rent that was owed per the rental contract, and therefore the tenant is required to leave the property.
We find that when you go to court with that notice and you’re able to demonstrate the fact that your tenants have not paid, the judge is going to make them vacate the property. It’s hard to find an acceptable excuse that would result in you not winning the eviction case.
When you evict a tenant, you are basically taking possession of the property back from the tenant. You are entitled to that possession because they did not perform as agreed.
Typically, rents are due on the first of the month, and most landlords and property managers will have a few days as a grace period, and then rent is late on the fifth of the month. This gives tenants five whole days past the due date to deliver you the rent.
Post Your Three Day Notice
If your tenants have not paid by the fifth, you can post your Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit.
At this point, the clock starts ticking. You cannot evict them on the next day. The legal process requires that you allow them more time to come up with the rent. It’s also important to know that the three-day period is three court days, not three calendar days. So, if rent is late on a Thursday and you post your Three Day Notice on a Friday, the clock does not start ticking until after Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
You can of course charge the tenants a late fee of up to six percent of the rent. Most owners charge somewhere in that range, and we have found that a five percent late fee is also very common. If they do not pay the late fee but they do catch up with rent, you can take that fee out of the security deposit down the road.
Filing for Eviction in Long Beach Courts
If they do not pay after the three days, you can go to the court to file for eviction. At Progressive Property Management, we work with an attorney and we recommend that you do the same. These attorneys are specialists in eviction law and are very familiar with the court system.
It is going to cost about $750 to start the initial eviction process. That pays for an off-duty sheriff to post and to serve the tenant a notice that they are going to be evicted. It also pays for your filing fees and some of your legal fees.
The tenant does have a right to contest your eviction. The court does not know that they did not pay. Everyone gets the opportunity to go to the court and fight for their rights. All they have to do is check a box or go online and say they are contesting the eviction. Really, what they are doing is buying themselves some more time.
When the eviction starts, they will get served within a week or two, and if they contest it, the process will take at least two to three more weeks to get a court date. If they do not contest the eviction, you take possession of the property. But, 95% of the time the tenants will contest it to buy themselves some more time.
If they contest it, you go to court and the judge will attempt a mediation. If you don’t reach mediation, then the judge will hear the story. Typically, the tenant will then explain that they just do not have the money. The judge will ask when they can be out of the property.
When your tenants don’t vacate the property on their own, they’ll have to be removed by law enforcement. In these cases, the tenants who are being evicted will often owe you a lot of money. The judge may ask the tenant to come up with some of that money, but you’re not in court to get your money back. You’re there to reclaim possession of your property. If you want to file a claim against the tenant because they owe thousands of dollars or there is damage to the property, then that will be a separate court case.
Eviction for Noncompliance with the Lease
The second most common reason that Long Beach landlords evict their tenants is because the tenants are not following the terms of the lease agreement. Maybe the tenant has pets that were not approved when they moved in, or there are people living in the home who are not on the lease.
This type of eviction is much harder to pursue. You can post a Three Day Notice to Cure, which gives the tenants a few days to come into compliance with the lease. For example, maybe there are three unauthorized residents living in the home. But, by the time you get to court, those three people may be gone.
There are a lot of new tenant protections in place with the recent California laws as well, which means it’s much harder to evict a tenant for reasons like this. The Tenant Protection Act says that if a tenant is paying rent as agreed, it’s very difficult to get them out of your property.
This illustrates why it’s so important to choose your tenants wisely. Good tenants will behave and pay their rent on time.
If you have any questions about the eviction process in Long Beach, please contact us at Progressive Property Management.