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How does a lawyer prove sufficient evidence to evict on the basis of a "nuisance" complaint?

San Francisco, CA |
Attorney answers 2


I assume you are a month-to-month tenant. In California, a landlord can end a periodic tenancy (month-to-month) by giving the tenant proper advance written notice. The landlord must give sixty (60) days written notice that the tenancy will end if every tenant has lived in the rental unit for a year or more. (Civil Code section 1946.1(b).)

The landlord usually is not required to explain nor state a reason for ending the tenancy in the 30-day or 60-day notice, and therefore, the landlord ordinarily would not need to present any evidence of "nuisance" in any unlawful detainer lawsuit based upon the service of a 60 day notice.

If your rental unit is subject to San Francisco's rent control ordinance, the landlord must have a "just cause" reason that is the dominant motive for pursuing the eviction. Therefore, if you are in a rent controlled building, you should consult with a tenant's attorney and/or file a Report of Alleged Wrongful Eviction with the San Francisco Rent Board.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.


Nuisance evictions are very "fact heavy" and the landlord would need to present sufficient evidence - likely by the testimony of other tenants or neighbors - to prove that you have engaged in conduct that caused a substantial interference to those persons' use or enjoyment of the premises.

Typically, one instance of interference does not amount to a "nuisance" even if it was "annoying." The word "nuisance" is what they call a "term of art." That means the definition is different under the law than what the word means to the average person on the street. What qualifies as a "nuisance" in California has been defined by over a century of jurisprudence and takes into account such factors as 1) the number of times it happens, 2) the severity of any one instance of alleged nuisance conduct, 3) whether the alleged nuisance conduct is "reasonable" under the circumstances, 4) to what degree anyone was disturbed, etc...

Certain acts have been declared nuisances in California even after only a single instance of such conduct. For example, getting busted for selling drugs on the property is an automatic nuisance for which someone can be evicted even if it happens only once. On the other hand, you might get away with the downstairs neighbor complaining about your television or stereo being too loud for years.

I would need a bit more information about your building to help further. If you can give me the address, I can do some initial research for you. Follow my link below and send me a message using the Contact Page on my website.