Handling evictions in Santa Rosa can be difficult, especially since new laws were passed and the eviction moratorium came and went during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The way you handle your eviction will depend on the type of eviction you’re pursuing.
Our team at Prestige Real Estate and Property Management rarely has to evict. We screen our tenants carefully and we have great relationships with our renters. However, we also understand the eviction laws in the state of California and what’s required to effectively remove a tenant from your property, especially if they’re not paying rent.
Eviction should always be a last resort. If you have residents struggling to pay, you’ll want to work with them on payment arrangements and schedules so they can stay in your property and you can continue to keep that home occupied.
Sometimes, there’s no other way. If you get to the point that you need to evict, it’s critical that you’re prepared. The laws have changed in the last few years, and there’s a process that needs your careful attention. Trying to evict a Santa Rosa tenant without the help of a local property manager or an experienced eviction attorney can be risky.
If you want to professionally handle evictions in California, check out the advice we have. It’s based on current law and industry best practices in our state, which has some of the strictest tenant protections in the country.
Is Your Santa Rosa Rental Property Included in The Tenant Protection Act?
Before we talk about eviction requirements, you’ll need to know if the latest law applies to your rental property. By now, you should know, because it impacts evictions as well as rent control. Generally speaking, multi-family units that are at least 15 years old are always going to fall under the requirements of this law. Single-family homes are generally exempt. New construction is exempt. If you’re renting out a duplex and you live in one of the units, you’re exempt.
There are always exceptions and singular cases. But generally, the new law that went into effect in 2020 applies to apartment buildings and multi-family properties where the owner is not occupying one of the units. Single-family homes, condos, and any properties built within the last 15 years are not currently required to follow the restrictions in this law unless they are owned by corporations or REITs (real estate trusts).
Make sure your lease agreement reflects whether your property is bound by or exempt from the rent control and just cause eviction laws that are enforced according to The Tenant Protection Act of 2019. All of your lease agreements should be updated to reflect this.
If you find yourself included in the properties that must now follow AB 1482, you have some new concerns about how you evict.
How to Handle Just Cause Evictions in California
Just cause evictions are pretty straightforward. You’re evicting because your tenant is at fault.
There are several good reasons to begin a just cause eviction. They include:
- Nonpayment of rent. If your tenant defaults on his or her rental payment obligations, you can begin an eviction just like you did previously. Start with the Notice to Pay or Vacate, and then move forward with the eviction filing at court if a tenant does not catch up and make the rental payment and also refuses to leave the property. Make sure you have a copy of your lease, where you indicate how much rent is due, when it’s due, and how it’s to be paid. Prepare to provide copies of your ledger that show rent hasn’t been paid, and always retain copies of any tenant communication. Defaulting on rent will always be a valid reason to evict a tenant.
- Your tenant has not renewed your lease after the end of the tenancy but also has not given notice of their intent to move out. If a lease has ended after January 1, 2020, but your tenant refuses to renew or move, you can start eviction proceedings.
- Your tenant violates the lease agreement. Perhaps you have a tenant who has moved in with unauthorized pets or is subletting a room in their home as a short-term Airbnb rental. You could have a tenant who refused to grant you access to the property for a maintenance issue, even after you provided the required notice and reasoning. When a tenant violates the lease agreement, you can begin eviction proceedings. You have just cause.
- If there is any criminal activity or acts committed in your property, either in the tenant’s private residence or in the communal areas of an apartment building. Make sure you have evidence and can support your claim before you evict your tenant. If any part of your property is used for an unlawful purpose, you will have a just cause eviction.
Stick to the professional process, even when you have a just cause eviction.
Before you effectively remove your tenant, you’ll need to issue a Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit or a Three Day Notice to Cure or Quit.
During the just cause eviction process, you’ll serve the notice, wait for a tenant’s response, and then move along to the filing in your local court if the tenant does not comply with your request (payment or coming into compliance with the lease).
Handling No-Fault Evictions in California
What if you need to evict your tenant but you don’t have just cause?
When you want to remove your tenant from the property even though they have been paying rent on time and following the terms of your lease, the law will see you as terminating a tenancy without just cause. That’s going to require that you compensate your tenant.
The amount you pay to the tenant you’re evicting will depend on the amount of rent. Compensation must be at least equal to the monthly rent. So, if rent is $2,500 per month, you have to pay your tenant $2,500 in order to remove them from the property and take possession back.
This type of eviction typically becomes necessary when a property owner wants to move back into the home or allow a family member to live in the property. Make sure your lease agreement reflects that you have this option and that you understand your responsibility to compensate the tenant.
There are other reasons you may want to take the property back, and you’ll still have to pay the tenant if they haven’t done anything to warrant a just cause eviction. Perhaps you’re going to sell the property and you won’t be renting it out further. Or, you could intend to substantially remodel the home, taking it off the market for a long period of time. Maybe there’s a habitability or a safety issue. In this case, you may be required to offer the property to your tenants again, once the repairs have been made.
You have two choices when you decide to remove your tenant from your property and compensate them for the relocation:
- You can make a direct payment, in which you’ll write a check or make a deposit for the amount that’s equivalent to one month’s rent.
- Or, you can allow your tenants to not pay the last month of rent before moving out.
Whatever you choose, we recommend that you put your intention in writing and include the dollar amount that will be paid or provided.
There’s no way to avoid paying relocation compensation when you’re evicting a tenant for a reason that is not their fault.
Knowing When it’s Time to Evict a Santa Rosa Tenant
As we mentioned, eviction should be the last choice you make when all negotiations with your tenant collapse or the tenants remain unresponsive to your requests for payment, lease compliance, or simply communication.
It’s time to evict when you cannot seem to bring your tenants to the table to talk about what’s happening. If your tenants agree to payment arrangements and miss the payments they promise to make, you can take the necessary steps to evict them. If your property is in danger, evict immediately.
The new laws pertaining to eviction are complex and confusing, and it doesn’t help that we had more than two years where evictions were not even permitted because of the state of emergency during the pandemic.
Because things are so precarious and the laws are changing all the time, it’s a really good idea to work with professional Santa Rosa property managers. Effectively managing a rental property in California is difficult enough. With the Tenant Protection Act in place, things can get even trickier. Tenants have a lot of support and resources when it comes to navigating this law and understanding their rights. As a property owner, you need the same protections.
Don’t make an expensive legal mistake when you’re evicting a tenant. If you’d like some help and guidance, please contact us at Prestige Real Estate & Property Management. We manage homes in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park.