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Know Your Rights: Eviction

Under California law, the only lawful way to evict a tenant is to file a case in court.

As a tenant, you have a right to remain in your home until a court orders you to move out.

Find legal help as soon as you can – the eviction process moves quickly. If you can’t afford to pay a private attorney, there are free legal services in your area. Contact a CRLA office near you. You can find free legal services in other areas by visiting

California's Tenant Protection Act

The only lawful way to evict a tenant is to file lawsuit and wait for the court to order the Sheriff or Marshal to carry out the eviction.

Landlords cannot change the locks, shut off power, or remove personal property in order to force a tenant out of their home.These kinds of "self-help" evictions or unlawful lockouts are serious offenses and can result in major legal consequences for a landlord, including law enforcement action or a private court case by the tenant.

The Tenant Protection Act prohibits landlords from evicting most tenants without “just cause.” The law sets out two kinds of evictions: "at fault" evictions and "no fault" evictions.

At fault evictions include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Breach of a material term of the lease
  • Nuisance, waste, or using the unit for unlawful purposes
  • Criminal activity on the premises or criminal activity off the premises directed at the owner or agent
  • Refusal to allow lawful entry
  • Refusal to execute a new lease on similar terms

No fault evictions include:

  • Owner move-in
  • Substantial rehabilitation or remodel
  • Intent to demolish the unit
  • Withdrawal of the unit from the rental market
  • The owner complying with any of the following:
    • An order issued by a government agency or court relating to habitability that requires the tenant to leave.
    • An order issued by a government agency or court that requires the tenant to leave.
    • A local ordinance that requires the tenant to leave.

Landlords can only evict a tenant for one of the reasons listed above. Some of these reasons have their own specific requirements, and landlords should consult with an attorney to make sure they are complying with the law. Lying about the reason for evicting a tenant is illegal.

Law Enforcement and Evictions

  • Law enforcement should never help a landlord evict a tenant by force or threats.
  • Only the Sheriff or Marshal, or their deputies, may evict a tenant, and only with a court order.
  • Other peace officers should not ask the tenant to leave their home.
  • Law enforcement should advise the landlord or other persons involved that it is a misdemeanor to force tenants out of a rental property and should instruct them to allow the tenant back into the home.
  • Law enforcement should advise the landlord to seek legal advice if they have an issue with the tenant or to lawfully evict the tenant.
  • Law enforcement should write a report about the incident even if no arrest is made.

Source: California Attorney General's Office




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