Give your tenant notice
If you're having a problem with a tenant or want them to move out for a legal reason, you must tell them in writing before taking any legal action. This is called giving notice. A Notice is a written warning that you’re going to start a court case if they don’t move out or fix a problem.
Before you start
Make sure you have a legal reason for giving notice
In California, you may be able to start an unlawful detainer (eviction) court case to get a court order for your tenant to move out if your tenant:
- Doesn't pay the rent on time, or stops paying the rent (with some exceptions for COVID-19 rental debt)
- Breaks the lease or rental agreement and will not fix the problem (like having a dog when pets aren't allowed)
- Damages the property in a way that makes it worth less money (called committing waste in legal terms)
- Becomes a serious nuisance, for example, by disturbing other tenants and neighbors even after being asked to stop
- Uses the property to do something illegal
You can also give notice if you want to move into your home (or move in your family members).
You may also be able to evict your tenant if:
- The tenant stays after the lease is up
- You cancel the rental agreement by giving proper notice
These last 2 reasons may not be good enough to evict your tenant, though, depending on your situation, for example, if the home is in an eviction-controlled area.
You cannot evict a tenant:
- Based on race, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, number of children, job, physical or mental disability, or because a tenant is receiving public assistance
- To retaliate against the tenant for filing a complaint if something is broken or violates a code, for calling emergency services, or for taking other actions against you
You cannot lock your tenants out of their home, or turn off their gas, water, or heat to force them to move out.
A Notice is almost always required before starting an unlawful detainer court case. But there are a few exceptions:
- Fixed-term leases: If your tenant has a lease for a fixed period of time, the lease is up and you don't extend it, you can start a court case without giving notice first. But you can't take any rent after the lease runs out or you'll be creating a month-to-month tenancy, which requires notice to end.
- Your tenant gives you notice to end the lease: If your tenant gives you notice they'll be moving out, but they don't, then you can start a court case right away.
- Your tenant works for you and lives on the property as part of their job: You can start a court case without notice as soon as your tenant doesn't work for you anymore.
Find out which type of Notice you need
There are different types of Notices for different situations.
Fill out the Notice
Make sure the form you're using for your Notice includes everything that is required by California law. If there are mistakes or missing information in the Notice you may lose the case.
Consider talking with an eviction lawyer to make sure you are using the right Notice and that you're filling it out correctly.
Make a copy
Make a copy of the Notice.
Once you’ve filled out the Notice, the next step is to share it with your tenant(s) (give notice).