Evicting a tenant is one task all landlords hope they never have to do, but need to be prepared for in order to protect themselves and their investment. It starts right after rent is due. Your tenant has not paid you for rent on the due date and has not notified you that they will be late. You try calling your tenant and they dont answer and they dont return your calls. You stop by the rental and no one comes to the door. If you happen to run into your tenant you get the run around, “I was just about to call you, but I dont have the rent money right now. Can I pay you next week?” If your tenants have always paid on time maybe you will give them the benefit of doubt and wait for them to pay. Or maybe you have seen this coming for a while and realize that your tenant has no intention of paying you.

The problem is, the longer you give your tenant to pay you, the longer you will have to wait to take action and start the eviction process. If you are a California landlord who has never gone through the eviction process then you may not be aware that evicting a tenant requires you to take legal action, you can not take matters into your own hands because it is illegal and can cause you both legal and financial problems. You cannot demand that your tenant pay rent or move out. You can not cut off their utilities or disrupt their lives in any way. In order to evict your tenant, you will have to go through the legal system and in the state of California the legal system heavily favors the tenant, not the landlord.

Most landlords in the state of California are not full-time landlords. Many of them only have a rental property because they got caught up in the real estate bust and are too upside down on their property to sell, so they are forced to rent it. Every bit of their rental income is needed to cover the cost of the mortgage on their rental property. Missing just one month of rent can put the landlord seriously behind. Coming up with an additional $1000 to pay an attorney for legal services to evict a tenant is not feasible for many landlords. I know that it is not for me. You can evict a tenant on your own without the help of an attorney but you will need to understand the eviction process in California.

The best thing I ever did was get attorney David Brown’s book titled The California Landlord’s Law Book: Evictions. You can get it here. It will walk you step by step through everything you need to do in order to successfully evict your tenant. It has all of the forms you need such as the 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit right in the book and also on a CD accompanying the book. It is worth every penny because it will help you avoid mistakes, and every mistake you make is going to cost you time and ultimately rent money.

I am going to discuss each of the steps you will go through to evict your tenant. The steps are as follows:

  1. 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
  2. File Unlawful Detainer Complaint
  3. Serve Tenant with Summons and Complaint
  4. Request Default Judgment
  5. Sheriff’s Eviction

Next Step>> 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

Join the Conversation


  1. This is very informative because it has stated the different steps how to evict a tenant in a legal way at least it will help a lot of people to be informed in the legal process of eviction. I thought i knew about this but it goes to show you can always learn if you are open to it, the way you have shared your knowledge has really opened my eyes, to seeing in a new way. Thank you so much.

  2. I filed forms UD-100 naming a Defendant and marking Does 1-5; SUM-130 naming the Defendant and marking Does 1-5; and the Prejudgment Claim of right to Possession. I included the Civil Case Cover sheet and the Civil Case Addendum. I had them stamped by the Court and proceeded to personnaly serve the Defendant. Same day I filed the Proof of Service with the Court.
    I waited 5 days for the Response; no Response was filed by the Defendant; I filed with the Court Form CIV-100 marking Clerk’s Judgment; Form UD-110; Form EJ-130; and Application for Issuance of Writ of Execution, Possession or sale with a $25.00 money Order.
    A few days afterwards, the Court rejects the Judgment forms indicating that there is no Proof of Service as to any and all occupants. How should I address a second proof of service and which proof of service should I file..Please help.

  3. Vincent,

    It sounds like you followed the correct steps, but I am slightly confused so want to clarify first before giving you an answer. You mention that you personally served the tenant. Do you mean that you used a process server to provide personal service ( as opposed to substitute service), or do you mean that you personally served the tenant? If you yourself served the tenant then that is not allowed. The first line of the Proof of Service of Summons reads “At the time of service i was at least 18 and not a party to this action.” Basically if you are the plaintiff then you can not serve.

    You might want to see the Serving The Summons and Complaint section on this site http://www.occourts.org/self-help/landlordtenant/filingandserving.html
    It reads:

    You cannot serve your claim. Service must be performed by:
    Someone of your choosing not listed on the case who is at least 18 years old, or
    The Sheriff, or
    Licensed process server (consult the web or your yellow pages under Process Servers).

    Also, you mentioned that you served the Prejudgment Claim of Right of Possession. If you want to serve a Prejudgment Claim of Right of Possession you have to use a registered process server or the Sheriff.

    Did you hire a process server? Have you read the book California Landlord’s Law Book: Evictions? It does a great job of walking you through the steps.

    Please let me know and I will do my best to help.

  4. Thanks for highlighting that the landlord cannot serve the Claim. I think that this could be a common mistake that landlords inexperienced with evictions might make. I appreciate how you have clearly laid out the steps to the process.

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