Today we are talking about something we all hate to deal with, and that’s evictions. Our blog will provide an introduction to the topic. We aren’t attorneys, so I’m not giving you any legal advice, but we are sharing some tips on how to deal with tenants who need to be evicted.
When a tenant isn’t paying rent, you often find yourself with no choice but to evict. This is one of the most common reasons to evict someone. The other reason is Cure or Quit, when there is a lease violation that needs to be dealt with. You give the tenant time to make necessary corrections and if they don’t they get evicted. However, unpaid rent is always the most common reason for eviction.
Rent is due on the first of the month. If it doesn’t come in, there could be a five day grace period in the lease. When the grace period comes and goes, and late fee goes into effect and you don’t hear from your tenant, you probably start to get nervous about the nonpayment.
If you go online for information, you will probably read that the first step is to serve a Three Day Notice. So you Google it and find a blank form and then you post it on the property and you think you’ve served a valid Three Day Notice. Not necessarily. In California, there are strict requirements on what you have to do with a proper Three Day Notice. If you aren’t compliant, your eviction will be thrown out when you file in court. Don’t waste that time. Use a Three Day Notice that is valid in California and includes the proper wording.
A common thing that goes wrong is for landlords to include late fees and utilities that are owed. We understand you want all your money, but only the outstanding rent can go on a Three Day Notice. Put the rent owed and the date range for which it’s overdue. For example, you might say from December 1 to December 31, $1,400 is outstanding. There are other things required, but this mistake is usually the most common. Don’t tack on additional fees.
Next, you’re going to serve the Notice. Hiring a process server will make it easy but if you want to do it yourself, go to the property and knock on the door. If the tenant is home, hand-deliver the Three Day Notice and ask them to read it, then walk away. If someone other than the tenant answers, you need to make sure it’s a person who is over 18 and mentally capable. If the person seems capable of accepting the Notice, get the individual’s name and age and as much information as possible on this person. Document who received the Notice at the property. If no one answers, tape the Notice on the front door. You then need to mail a copy of the Notice to the tenant. We recommend you do it via certified mail with a return receipt. This is not legally required but again, the documentation helps. Fill out a proof of service. Once you have all that, if the tenant still doesn’t pay the overdue rent, go to court and start the Unlawful Detainer Process.
We suggest using a real estate attorney. California is very tenant-friendly, so as a landlord you need to use every resource available to make sure everything is perfect. We have qualified attorneys on retainer and we let the experts handle what they know best. With an eviction, you don’t want to waste time. You want to get the tenant out not because you’re a bad person, but because you’re in a business and you want to get paid for providing housing to your tenant.
This is a very general overview of a complicated process. If you have any questions about eviction, please contact us at Wolfgang Property Management. We often help landlords who have been managing properties by themselves and then don’t know what to do when the rent stops coming in. We can step in and help you out.