Popular causes for eviction include failure to pay rent, illegal activity, breach of the rental agreement, nuisance, overcrowding.
Determine the Appropriate Type of Notice
Depending on the cause of action (see above), you may be required to provide the tenant with an opportunity to fix the problem. In the case of failure to pay rent, you would provide a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. For a breach of the rental agreement, for example-having a pet in violation of the rental agreement, you would provide a Three Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit. In the case of illegal activity, you would serve a Three Day Notice to Quit- with no requirement that the breach be cured.
Serve the Notice
Yes. The tenant must be advised of the offense. You cannot put it in a drawer and hope that the tenant will become aware of the notice by means of mental telepathy. They must receive the notice directly. Although you can serve it yourself, you may be better off having someone not involved in the case over the age of 18 provide the notice to the tenant. Knocking on the door and handing the notice to the tenant when they answer the door works fine.
Mailing Not Required if..
If you complete Step 2 by personal service, you do not have to mail the notice. However, if there is no answer at the door, you are entitled to post the notice on the door and then mail a copy to the tenant via first class mail. Likewise, if someone answers the door who is over the age of 18 but not named in the eviction notice, you may serve the person who answers the door, but you must also mail a copy.
Count to 3
With all the hard work of service behind you, you can almost exhale. The fun part is coming, but has not yet arrived. Whatever you do, be sure you count to three the proper way. The day after you have mailed the notice is Day 1. The following day is 2, and the next day may or may not be day 3. (If day 3 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the next business day is day 3). You may not file the summons and complete until day 4. You must allow the tenant a full 3 days to perform or quit.
If you have carefully followed the foregoing steps, victory is almost yours. After a summons and complaint is filed, approximately 90% of landlords win their cases when the tenant fails to answer or show up to court. Because you have read this article, you will avoid the major reasons for defective notice, failure to mail after posting, counting incorrectly and filing the complaint too soon, or accepting rent after you provide a 3 day notice to quit. (Did I mention that you should not accept the rent after you give a 3 day notice to quit? You can accept the rent, but you will have lost your unlawful detainer action if you do.)
Additional resources provided by the author
California has several counties which are governed by Rent Stabilization Ordinances. It is critical that you refer to your local municipal code for the guidelines for evictions in your area. Most Superior Courts have websites that can also guide you as to local eviction procedures. And of course, you can always submit specific questions to Avvo for help. Good luck!