An eviction notice, also known as a 30-day notice to terminate tenancy (or if tenants have lived somewhere for more than a year in California, then it would be a 60-day notice to terminate tenancy), can be the worst notice tenants ever receive. Not only are the tenants forced to move out in short order, often the tenants have not been looking for a new place to live, so the tenants are forced to scramble to find a new place. What is worse, the tenants also have to potentially come up with a first and last month’s rent and a security deposit for the new place. Tenants with pets face the additional burden of coming up with a pet deposit. Most tenants that I know don’t have that kind of spare money lying around, so that means either putting it onto a credit card (by way of cash advance) or borrowing the money from friends or family. Needless to say, that alone will bring further stress into the tenants’ lives because nobody truly likes to loan money, and no one likes to ask for loans. Plain and simple, it’s embarrassing. On top of all this, the tenants may not have time to get away from work to look for a new place, so that will bring added stress. If the tenants are lucky, then they actually will find a place to move to within the 30 or 60 days. If they don’t, then they will face an eviction lawsuit (known as an unlawful detainer), and if they still cannot find a place to live and they lose the lawsuit (a likely result), then the sheriff will be summoned to physically remove them from the rental premises. This can be devastating.
So what should tenants do if they are served with a 30 or 60-day notice to terminate their tenancy? First, they should ask their landlord why it was served upon them. While a landlord is not required to give a reason for the eviction notice, a landlord is also not allowed to serve an eviction notice for an illegal reason (e.g., because the new landlord doesn’t like young children living at the complex). Sometimes a landlord will tell tenants why they are being evicted. This can be very helpful if a lawsuit is eventually filed against the landlord. Next, the tenants must immediately look for a new place to live. Even if tenants believe that they have been wrongfully served the eviction notice, they must put all of their effort into finding a new place to live ASAP. (Technically, a lawsuit can be filed against a landlord in certain situations even before the landlord files an unlawful detainer action against the tenants to actually prevent the landlord from trying to evict the tenants in the first place, but that is too complex of an issue to discuss in a short article, so if you have questions, then feel free to email.) Once the tenants find a new place to live, then it makes sense to try to figure out why the eviction notice was served upon them. It may be that the tenants have been the victims of housing discrimination, or it may be that the tenants simply were not the greatest tenants (e.g., consistently late on payments, frequent late night parties, etc.). Either way, evictions are traumatic. Illegal evictions, however, should not be tolerated. If you think that you have been the victim of an illegal eviction, then feel free to contact us for a free consultation.