Landlord/Tenant – Evictions Basics

Understanding Evictions
Evictions are a complex and sensitive area of law, particularly in California, where tenant rights are robustly protected. As a landlord, understanding the intricacies of this process can be daunting. This article explains landlords’ and tenants’ specific duties and obligations under the law.

Lease Agreements
A lease, whether oral or written, is fundamentally a legally binding exchange of promises, i.e., a contract. It involves periodic payments made by the tenant in return for habitable dwellings provided by the landlord. While contractual in nature, a lease is subject to specific regulations that limit the extent to which certain terms can be negotiated. For example, California law regulates rent increases and further restricts a landlord and tenant from waiving habitability requirements.

Landlord Obligations
A key duty of the landlord is to ensure that the rental property remains habitable. This includes providing essential services such as, for example, running water and heat. When a landlord fails to meet the basic requirements, they may not be legally entitled to collect rent for the period during which the services were unavailable. It is crucial to recognize that habitability is not just a courtesy; it is a legal requirement.

Tenant Responsibilities
On the flip side, tenants are obligated to pay rent, adhere to the terms of the lease, and ensure their actions do not violate the law, cause a nuisance, or pose a threat to the health and safety of others. Failure to meet these obligations can lead to legal action and potential eviction.

Legal Disputes and Unlawful Detainer Actions
When disputes escalate to the point where legal intervention is required, the matter typically falls under the jurisdiction of the unlawful detainer department of the Superior Court in the county where the property is located. Unlawful detainer is more commonly known as an eviction. An unlawful detainer court specifically handles cases related to lease disputes.

California’s Focus on Tenant Rights
In California, the eviction process is procedurally intensive and governed by a strict set of laws. This includes everything from the precise language required in termination notices to the execution of a judgment for the landlord’s possession, if the landlord prevails. The state places a strong emphasis on protecting tenant rights, making it imperative for landlords to meticulously follow legal procedures during an eviction.

Navigating the Process
Evictions are more than just legal procedures; they involve real people and their homes. As such, they should be approached with care, understanding, and a thorough knowledge of the law. If you are a landlord facing the difficult decision to evict a tenant it is crucial to understand your rights and responsibilities. Likewise, if you are a tenant facing eviction, it is critical to be aware of your rights. Our law firm specializes in these matters and can provide the guidance and support you need throughout the process.