Tenant Eviction Rights in Los Angeles
- The first step a landlord should take to legally remove a renter is to present him with a written three-, 30- or 90-day notice informing him of how he has broken the lease --- normally through non-payment of rent --- and specifying a date by which the delinquency must be resolved. If this fails to elicit a response, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer in court. If the tenant believes the eviction is unlawful, he has five days within which to file an answer, after which a court date will be set where he can argue his case before a judge. Tenants are within their rights to hire an attorney, and might be advised to do so.
- A tenant cannot be physically removed by the landlord. In fact, in Los Angeles, the only person who can do this is a member of the county sheriff's department. In the event that the tenant loses the case in court and is ordered to depart the dwelling, he has a total of five days from the time the final order is issued and delivered to vacate. No action can be taken during this time by anyone to force him to leave sooner, though tenants should keep in mind that vandalizing the unit could result in fines, jail time or both.
- At no point in the process is the landlord allowed to indulge in any sort of harassing behavior. He cannot make threats, lock a tenant out, remove doors or windows or have services disconnected. If he resorts to any of these tactics, tenants have several methods of recourse, including small claims court. There's also a good chance this sort of harassment could allow the tenant to claim in court that his tenant rights were violated and invalidate the eviction process.
- Tenants are also protected from retaliatory behavior in the event they file a complaint with the health department or building and safety regulators. For a full 180 days from the date of the complaint, the landlord may not arbitrarily decide to evict you, raise your rent or decrease your services as long as you pay rent on time and abide by all the other terms of the lease agreement.