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The Eviction Process

The eviction process uses an unlawful detainer (court action) to evict a tenant. A landlord may not use illegal self-help remedies such as turning off utilities, changing locks, or removing a tenant's personal property from the unit. If a landlord does this, they will be liable for actual damages in addition to fines per day. A landlord may not use threats or interfere with a tenant's quiet enjoyment and will be liable for each violation.

The eviction process contains three main steps:

1. Serving an eviction notice;

2. Obtaining a judgement for an unlawful detainer action; and,

3. Eviction under a writ of possession.

Eviction Notice

To terminate a rental agreement the landlord must serve the tenant an eviction notice (3-day notice) for cause. A 3-day notice instructs the tenant to vacate or to comply with the terms. This notice gives the tenant 3 days to pay rent or take whatever action that is in breach within 3 days or the landlord may take immediate action.

If the notice is a Three-day notice to pay rent or quit, it must state the amount of rent owed in order to avoid dispute later.

If the notice is a Three-day notice to cure or quit, it must identify the activity that violated the agreement.

Serving a Notice

A landlord may serve a three-day notice on the tenant by personal service, substituted service, or mail, while personal service is the best option.

Unlawful Detainer Action

This is a lawsuit to remove a holdover tenant and return the unit to its owner. This proceeding is fairly quick compared to other actions and has calendar priority over civil actions.

Writ of Possession

If the tenant does not move out, the court will issue a writ of possession, which is a legal document issued by the court commanding the tenant to leave the premises within 5 days. After 5 days, the sheriff physically removes the tenant and gives the landlord possession. At this time, the landlord may remove the personal property from the unit and change the locks.

Do you have questions regarding your eviction? If so, please contact Aziz Legal by phone at (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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