Eviction is a tough topic and it's also emotionally charged. When your tenant stops paying rent, you find yourself under a lot of pressure. You have a mortgage to pay and if you aren't collecting rent, it can get really frustrating really fast. Even though it's an emotional time, you have to keep a professional attitude and make sure everything in the process is done correctly. You can get into a lot of trouble if you break the law during an eviction.
The first thing you want to do is to drive by the house. See if the tenants are still living there and go ahead and knock on the door. If they don't answer, you should leave a memo asking them to contact you right away. Remember that your ultimate goal is to collect that rent, so keep things nice and amicable as long as you can. You don't know what's going on with your tenants, and maybe they simply forgot to pay. You don't want to create an enemy this early in the process because the relationship with your tenant will hopefully be a long term one. Sometimes you can collect rent just by knocking on the door. If they do answer and they do pay you, remind them that they have a lease in place and they need to adhere to it and get rent in on time.
If you don't get any response from the tenants, draw up a 3 Day Notice. You can do it yourself, but we always recommend you hire an attorney. We have found that it's best to hire a professional who specializes in evictions. The attorney will do it right and will be sure the dates and the amounts on your 3 Day Notice are correct. You don't want to make it all the way to court and then have something wrong with your 3 Day Notice. If that happens, the whole action will likely get thrown out. It's critical that everything is done correctly.
Have the notice served on the tenants. You cannot call or contact your tenants during those three days. It's important that you follow the law and you wait. After three days, if you don't get the rent money, your attorney will serve an unlawful detainer. Hopefully, the process server will be able to deliver the unlawful detainer in person, at the door; otherwise you'll have to plan an additional 10 to 15 days for the detainer to get to the tenant.
The tenant has five days to respond. If there is no answer, you will get an automatic default judgment and the sheriff will physically evict the tenants within a week or two. You can expect the whole process to take between 22 and 30 days if there is no response from the tenants to the unlawful detainer.
If you have a tenant who knows the laws or provides a reason for not paying rent, it will take longer. They might be claiming a habitability issue because you didn't fix the heat or take care of a plumbing leak. It's important you know the California habitability laws so you don't find yourself in this position.
A court date will be issued when your tenant does file a response, and your attorney will handle most of what happens in the courtroom. It's not too painful, but be prepared with your lease, correspondence, pictures and any other supporting documentation. The goal is to get a settlement and have the tenants agree to move out before a judge requires them to.
If you have any questions about the eviction process, please contact us at Property Management Experts, and we'd be happy to tell you more