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How to Evict a Non-Paying Tenant in Los Angeles

Question from don, How to Evict a Non-Paying Tenant in Los Angeles

Answer from AI:

Evicting a non-paying tenant in Los Angeles involves a series of legal steps that must be carefully followed to comply with both California state law and local ordinances. The process can be complex, and it’s crucial to understand the basics to ensure that landlords act within the law. This guide provides a general overview, but it’s important to consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific situation.

Understanding the Legal Framework

The eviction process in Los Angeles is governed by California state law, particularly the California Civil Code, as well as local regulations such as the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) for properties that fall under its jurisdiction. These laws provide protections for tenants and outline specific procedures landlords must follow to legally evict a tenant.

Steps to Evict a Non-Paying Tenant

  1. Review the Lease Agreement: Before taking any action, review the lease agreement to confirm the terms regarding rent payments and notice requirements.
  2. Provide a Pay or Quit Notice: The first step in the eviction process is to serve the tenant with a written notice. For non-payment of rent, a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit is typically required. This notice must inform the tenant that they have three days to pay the rent in full or vacate the property.
  3. File an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit: If the tenant does not pay the rent or vacate the property within three days, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court. This is the formal eviction process.
  4. Serve the Tenant: The tenant must be formally served with a copy of the unlawful detainer lawsuit.
  5. Tenant’s Response: The tenant has five days to respond to the lawsuit. If they fail to respond, the landlord may seek a default judgment to proceed with the eviction.
  6. Court Hearing: If the tenant responds, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case.
  7. Judgment and Writ of Possession: If the court rules in favor of the landlord, a judgment will be issued, and a Writ of Possession will be ordered, giving the tenant a final deadline to leave the property.
  8. Lockout by Sheriff: If the tenant does not vacate by the deadline, the landlord can request a sheriff’s lockout, where the sheriff will physically remove the tenant from the property.

Important Considerations

  • Legal Compliance: It’s crucial to follow all legal requirements precisely, including proper notice and filing procedures. Failure to comply can result in delays or dismissal of the eviction case.
  • Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO): For properties covered by the RSO, additional rules and protections for tenants may apply, including limitations on evictions and rent increases. More information on the RSO can be found on the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department website.
  • COVID-19 Protections: Be aware of any temporary protections for tenants related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which may affect eviction proceedings.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Given the complexity of eviction laws and the potential for legal pitfalls, consulting with a legal professional experienced in landlord-tenant law is strongly recommended.


Evicting a non-paying tenant in Los Angeles requires careful adherence to legal procedures. Landlords must provide proper notice, file an unlawful detainer lawsuit if necessary, and follow through with court proceedings. Due to the complexities of the law and the potential for significant legal consequences, it’s advisable to seek professional legal advice to navigate the eviction process effectively. Remember, this guide provides a general overview, and laws can change, so staying informed about current regulations is essential.

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