We make sure our clients receive only the best eviction help in Northern California so that we not only meet but also exceed their eviction needs. We offer top-notch legal assistance and adopt a personalized approach to every client. We’re devoted to providing our clients with a first-class eviction service in Sonoma County. With Bay Area County Evictions, you can be sure there will be no lag time during the eviction process. The whole process is managed in-house, so we remain in full control from start to finish. No outsourcing also means more affordable fees for our clients, anywhere in Sonoma County! The clientele we serve is broad, and we treat each client relationship with special interest and care. We guarantee integrity, support, and understanding to every single client.
We happily extend our services to clients who are out of city, county or country by enabling them to execute the whole eviction process via DocuSign, fax or email. We reach out to the the Northern California community by making our eviction services accessible and affordable. Our goal is simple – to assist you in reclaiming your property as well as the compensation you are entitled to by providing top-notch eviction services in the North Bay. We consider a job well done if our service helped you not only to reclaim what’s yours, but to also save. If you are looking for a LICENSED, REGISTERED & BONDED UNLAWFUL DETAINER ASSISTANT to help you come out on top of your eviction process, Sonoma County LDA is a phone call away. Choose from a variety of service packages we have to offer and benefit from the experience and expertise of our professional staff.
How the eviction process works
This is a summary of the eviction process. A landlord must meet many legal requirements before they can ask for a court order that says their tenant must move out. There are step-by-step instructions at the bottom of this page with more details.
The landlord gives the tenant a written Notice to do something by a deadline
For example, a Notice might say to fix a problem or move out by a certain date. The deadlines can be very short, like 3 days, or months.
The Landlord starts an eviction case in court
If the tenant doesn’t do what the Notice says by the deadline, the landlord can file an eviction case (called an unlawful detainer). The landlord must have a copy of the court papers delivered (served) to the tenant.
The tenant has a few days to file a response in court
If the tenant doesn’t respond by the deadline, the landlord can file papers asking a judge to decide the case without their input. If the tenant does respond, either side can ask for a trial where a judge or jury will decide.
The judge makes a decision
If the landlord wins, they can ask the judge for papers that tell the sheriff to evict the tenants. The sheriff will post a Notice to Vacate and the tenant has time to move out.
When a Landlord Might Send a Notice of Termination for Cause
Although terminology varies somewhat from state to state, there are basically three types of termination notices that you might receive if you have violated the rental agreement or lease in some way:
- Pay Rent or Quit Notices, which are typically given to someone who has not paid the rent. These notices give you a few days (three to five in most states) to pay the rent or move out (“quit”).
- Cure or Quit Notices, which are typically given to someone who violates a term or condition of the lease or rental agreement, such as a no-pets clause or the promise to refrain from making excessive noise. Usually, you have a set amount of time in which to correct, or “cure,” the violation.
- Unconditional Quit Notices, which are the harshest of all. They order the tenant to vacate the premises with no chance to pay the rent or correct a lease or rental agreement violation. In most states, unconditional quit notices are allowed only if you have:
- repeatedly violated a significant lease or rental agreement clause
- been late with the rent on more than one occasion
- seriously damaged the premises, or
- engaged in serious illegal activity, such as drug dealing on the premises.
When a Landlord Might Send a Notice of Termination Without Cause
Even if you have not violated the rental agreement and have not been late paying rent, a landlord can probably ask you to move out at any time (assuming you don’t have a fixed-term lease) as long as the landlord gives you a long enough notice period.
A 30-Day Notice to Vacate or a 60-Day Notice to Vacate to terminate a tenancy can be used in most states when the landlord does not have a reason to end the tenancy. (The length of the required notice might be slightly longer or shorter in some states.)
Rent Control Exceptions
Many rent control cities go beyond state laws and require the landlord to prove a legally recognized reason for termination. These laws are known as “just cause eviction protection.” (Tenants in only a couple of states—New Jersey and New Hampshire—also enjoy just cause eviction protection.)
When a Landlord Might File an Eviction Lawsuit
Following receipt of a termination notice, if you haven’t moved out or fixed the lease or rental agreement violation, the landlord must properly serve you with a summons and complaint for eviction in order to proceed with the eviction.
The court will set a date and time for a hearing or trial before a judge. You must show up to this hearing. If you don’t, the judge will likely rule against you, even if you have a possible defense to the eviction.
Possible Tenant Defenses to Eviction
If you do get hauled into court, you may be able to diminish the landlord’s chances of victory. Perhaps you can point to shoddy paperwork in the preparation of the eviction lawsuit. Or maybe the landlord’s illegal behavior, such as not maintaining the rental property in habitable condition, will serve as a good defense, as would a claim that the eviction lawsuit is in retaliation for your insistence on needed, major repairs.
Sheriff’s Escort During an Eviction
Even if the landlord wins the eviction lawsuit, the landlord can’t just move you and your things out onto the sidewalk. Landlords must give the court judgment to a local law enforcement office, along with a fee. A sheriff or marshal gives you a notice that the officer will be back within a few days to escort you off the property. At that point, it’s best to acknowledge defeat and leave on your own steam.
New COVID-19 Laws
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the laws regarding Unlawful Detainers are changing frequently. Landlords must meet certain requirements to terminate a tenancy and tenants have additional protections due to COVID-19 related loss of income. Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, it is important to get help to understand your rights and responsibilities under these new laws. Make sure you research these new laws, contact a local legal aid or self-help center, or consult with an attorney.
COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program
If you are an income eligible tenant who has experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 and have past due rent, or you are a landlord whose tenant has not paid rent due to COVID-19, you may qualify to get financial assistance through the new CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program. A landlord or a tenant may apply and all applications are processed on a first come, first served basis. For more information, visit https://housing.ca.gov.
Unlawful Detainer (Eviction)
Eviction cases are called an “unlawful detainer” in court. An unlawful detainer lawsuit is the civil process a landlord can use to remove a tenant from his or her rental property and regain possession of the property from the tenant. In California, a landlord may be able to evict a tenant if the tenant:
- Fails to pay the rent on time;
- Breaks the lease or rental agreement and will not fix the problem (like keeping your cat when pets are not allowed);
- Damages the property, bringing down the value (commits “waste”);
- Becomes a serious nuisance by disturbing other tenants and neighbors even after being asked to stop; or
- Uses the property to do something illegal.
In most cities, the landlord can also evict the tenant:
- If the tenant stays after the lease is up, or
- If the landlord cancels the rental agreement by giving proper notice.
Other types of legal disputes between landlords and tenants are generally handled in small claims court, such as disputes regarding the return of a security deposit.
A landlord cannot evict someone themselves
A landlord cannot evict someone themselves without going through the proper steps. It is against the law. Only the Sheriff can evict someone. Even if a tenant is months behind on the rent, the landlord cannot:
- Make the tenant move out
- Get rid of the tenant’s possessions
- Lock the tenant out
- Cut off the water or electricity
- Remove outside windows or doors
To legally evict the tenant through the process of an Unlawful Detainer, the landlord typically has to:
- Serve the tenant with the appropriate written notice (there are several types of notices, and the one a landlord serves the tenant with must be appropriate to the specific case circumstances)
- Wait for the time period in the notice to end
- File an Unlawful Detainer action if the tenant does not do what the notice asks
An Unlawful Detainer case is fast. Usually, the tenant has 5 days to file a response. If an Answer is filed, trial is 20 days after that.
SB1418 authorizes non-lawyers to prepare legal documents for people doing their own legal tasks. Effective January 1, 2000, these non-lawyers, called Legal Document Assistants, may:
- Distribute to their customers legal materials that have been published or approved by a lawyer
- Prepare the customers’ legal documents under the direction of their customers
- File the customers’ legal documents in the appropriate courts
To qualify as a Legal Document Assistant, a person must:
- Register in the County in which they work
- Post a $25,000 Bond
- Establish that he or she has a minimum level of experience and/or education
Every Legal Document Assistant is required to use a Contract. The Contract will provide appropriate notice to the Legal Document Assistant’s customers regarding the scope of the customers’ rights and the Legal Document Assistant’s duties. This Bill was passed for your protection. When you look to hire a Legal Document Assistant after January 1, 2000 be sure to ask if he or she is bonded and registered.
Legal Document Assistants were once commonly known as Independent Paralegals. However, as of January 1st, 2000, only those Paralegals working directly for attorneys may now be referred to as Paralegals. Those formerly known as Independent Paralegals are now officially known as Legal Document Assistants (LDAs). LDAs often have the same educational background as a paralegal and are REQUIRED by law to be registered and bonded in the county in which they have their principal place of business. Please Note:
- A Legal Document Assistant is NOT a Lawyer.
- By law, they cannot give you legal advice or represent you in the courts in any matter.
- If you need to consult with an attorney, your LDA will be able to provide you with a referral.
- We always suggest that you be sure to ask the LDA you are thinking of retaining if he or she is bonded and registered in their county. This is for your protection. Registration and bond information are available at the Sonoma County Clerks Office. If a person is acting as an LDA but is not registered and bonded, then they are operating illegally in California. The Bond is for your protection!