We hear a lot from our clients about evictions, and we’ve asked Nick Roscha to join us and address this topic. Nick has been practicing law for 20 years and he specializes in real estate and business law. So we’re asking him about the best way or the proper way for a property management company to handle evictions. As a property manager, I always stress to our clients that when we screen people, we look for the best quality tenants we can find, and we only place people with a good employment record and landlord references. But, there’s no guarantee of future performance. You can get a stellar person but then something happens; death, divorce, or job loss, and suddenly that tenant is not cooperating and not paying rent.
Evictions and Professional Help
The unlawful detainer process is not overly complex, but it can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are strict procedures and pitfalls. The first suggestion I always have for an owner without representation is to find a property manager who can assist with the process. If you’re a property manager who doesn’t completely understand the process, get good legal counsel. These are difficult waters to navigate on your own.
Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit
You enter a lease because you think the relationship with the tenant will work out. But things don’t always go according to plan, and you may need to get that tenant out. There are lots of situations in which you would evict, but the most common is for nonpayment of rent. If that happens, you start with a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit. There are specific requirements for this notice. Don’t go onto the internet and find a notice. California updates its laws and notices almost annually. If you pull up an old notice online from five years ago, it won’t be compliant and you’ll lose in court. Then, you have to start all over. Lawyers have a current notice. Once you serve someone, you give them three days. The day you serve the notice doesn’t count, but weekends do, as long as the last day of the notice falls on a business day.
Filing an Unlawful Detainer
You can evict if the tenants have not paid you after the three day period. You’ll need to file an Unlawful Detainer, and you should hire an attorney to do that unless you know what you’re doing. Filing the Unlawful Detainer doesn’t mean you’re getting someone out right away. You have to serve the Unlawful Detainer using a process server. Then, the tenants have five days to answer. If they don’t answer, you get a default judgment. If they do answer, you have a trial usually within 21 days. So, the timeline is always running. Usually, it’s a short trial and you get a judgment. From there, you can get a sheriff to move the tenant out within two or three weeks.
Hiring an attorney might cost some money, but the most important thing you’re trying to do is to get possession of your property back. So, it’s worth it to have someone who understands the process and the system.