What California Law Says About Kicking Out Your Roommate

Landlord Protection What California Law Says About Kicking Out Your Roommate

California Law On Kicking Out Your Roommate

Deciding to have a roommate can help you spend less on living expenses but it can also create living complexities forcing you to seek measures on how to evict a roommate in California.

The problem is you can't just kick out a roommate in California when things go sour. If someone stays with you for 30 days or more, the law considers them as a tenant, giving them some rights over the property regardless of whether they signed a lease or not.

We'll tell you all about California laws regarding tenancy and and give you an easy way to kick out a roommate in California.

Eviction Laws in California

Here are eviction laws governing eviction in California:

  • A landlord must serve the tenant with a written eviction notice before evicting them according to California eviction laws
  • If the tenant doesn't leave or fix their bad behaviors, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit
  • A landlord doesn't need to give notice to a tenant if their violations are serious
  • Communities with rent control ordinances can further determine how to evict a tenant
  • If the landlord has no cause to terminate the tenancy, they must serve a 30-day written notice to a month-to-month tenant, and if they've lived in the unit for more than a year, the landlord should send them a 60-day written notice
  • A tenant can fight an eviction citing the failure of the landlord to maintain the unit, not following the right notice procedures, etc.
  • Only a sheriff can evict the tenant from the unit if the lawsuit is successful

Reasons to Evict or Be Evicted

California eviction laws dictate that you can only be evicted or evict someone with a just cause which includes:

Failing to pay rent Damaging the rental propertyBeing violent
Violating the terms of the leaseSubstantially interfering with the other tenantsUsing the rental for illegal purposes e.g. use of weapons

How to Fight a Wrongful Eviction in California

California kicking out roommate or tenant laws only apply if there's a legally recognized reason for doing it. If not, a tenant can fight back.

Start by writing a formal response within 5 days after receiving the eviction notice. Fill out an answer form and take it to the court clerk.

Next, find possible defenses, for example, improperly serving you a notice, calling an action a violation when the lease terms don't say so, proof that the eviction is a retaliatory act to a complaint you made, etc.

Gather every material about the unit including lease agreements and receipts. You could also ask witnesses to testify if you have any.

Contact an attorney to file your complaint, attend the hearing and listen to the judge's decision. If the judge finds you have the right to stay, they may also order your landlord to pay you back the litigation costs.

Do You Have the Legal Power to Evict Your Roommate in California?

Directions to legally evict a roommate or how to evict a roommate in California depend on the situation by which the person you want to evict became your roommate.

If your roommate is on the lease, you have equal rights to the property and only the landlord can evict them –based on a just cause and using the right procedure.

However, if they are threatening you, you can get a restraining order against them. In this case, they have to leave immediately.

The Eviction Process in California

Here is how to evict a tenant in California based on California eviction laws:

  1. Give your tenant a written 30 days-notice for month-to-month tenants who've lived in a unit for less than a year or 60-day notice for month-to-month tenants who've lived in the unit for more than a year
  2. If they stay put, file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court. You need to present three forms: an unlawful detainer complaint, civil case cover sheet, and a prejudgement right of possession Serve the tenant with the summon and provide proof that they were served by filing a proof of service with the court
  3. Wait for the tenant's response which should be in 5 working days
  4. If the tenant responds, a trial date is set. Go through the court proceedings These may include objections by the tenant to your eviction
  5. If your evidence convinces the judge the tenant should be evicted, you'll receive a writ of possession which authorizes the local sheriff to lock the tenant out of your property

If there's no lease, a roommate cannot evict a fellow roommate but the landlord has the authority to serve the tenant with notice and follow the processes mentioned above.

Sue Anyone with DoNotPay

If you want to sue your landlord for wrongful eviction, repairs, or violating any of your tenant rights, the DoNotPay app can generate a demand letter to send to your landlord in moments.

You don't have to worry about filling out forms or writing the letter yourself. Just leave everything to DoNotPay and you'll be able to get justice.

California Landlord-Tenant Laws

California is one of the most tenant-friendly states in the US and was one of the pioneers in enacting rent control laws. Some of these laws were successful in answering renters' issues such as 'can a landlord evict me without notice’ and ‘what to do when my landlord is threatening to evict me.'

Here are some of the California landlord-tenant laws:

  • The security deposit is capped at the equivalent of two months' rent for unfurnished rentals and 3 months' rent equivalent for furnished rentals
  • Landlords may charge a non-refundable application fee but it should not exceed their actual out-of-pocket costs for things such as background checks, etc.
  • It is illegal in some counties, such as Oakland, to ask for criminal history information.
  • Landlords have 21 days to return security deposits. If you don't get your security deposit back, you can sue them.
  • Landlords must disclose information to do with utilities and exposure to safety hazards to the tenant before they move in
  • Landlords are required to provide grace periods for paying rent to tenants

Tenant Rights in California

Renters' rights in California include the right to clean and sufficient water, hot water, protection from burglary and criminal invasion, to live in a habitable unit, air conditioning, sturdy roof, floors, and walls, etc.

You also have the right to privacy. Your landlord has to give you notice 24 hours before they enter your house for any reason.

If your lease expires and you want to renew it, your landlord cannot raise the rent on the new lease above five to ten percent.

You can withhold rent when a landlord doesn't maintain a livable unit. However, there must be proof that the unit is not livable because it poses danger to your health.

California Security Deposit Laws

Landlords cannot charge you more than two months' rent for a security deposit for an unfurnished unit. In a furnished unit, the deposit may be as high as 3 times the rent.

If you're bringing items such as a waterbed with you, California law allows the landlord to add half a month of rent to the deposit. They also have to return the deposit within 21 days after you vacate unless you damage the property.

If they refuse to comply, here's how to sue your landlord for your deposit.

How to Withhold Rent in California

In California, a rental property must be livable and meet both health and safety standards, and applicable repairs in time. Landlords have 30 days to make repairs before a renter can withhold rent.

If the rental unit doesn't meet these standards, a renter can withhold rent, pay for repairs then deduct the costs from their next rent (called repair and deduct), contact state or local building health inspectors, sue the landlord, or move out without giving notice.

While California does not require that you put the rent in an escrow account, you can do it or put it in a savings account. It helps to show the judge you didn't put away the money for personal use in case the landlord takes you to court.

How to Report a Landlord in California

If you're wondering where to file a complaint against your landlord in California, you can do so through the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs.

Contact the department online on their website at www.dca.ca.gov or call (800) 952-5210 for any questions or complaints about your landlord, repairs, safety hazards, and violations of health codes.

How to Ask Your Landlord for Repairs

You're expected to ask your landlord for repairs for faulty amenities. For example, if your landlord won't fix the dishwasher, they are slacking from one of their landlord repairs responsibilities. You can write to them to request repairs with these steps:

  • Examine our lease to determine who's responsible for repairs. If it's the landlord, send a letter to your landlord about repairs with details of the issue
  • Include the date and time the issue occurred and describe it. Include photos if you can.
  • Next, make a proposition to solve the issue. If you're dealing with burst pipes, you could ask to go to a hotel while plumbers attend to the issue
  • Lastly, set a period for when you hope to hear from them (must be reasonable)

How to Evict a Roommate in California By Yourself

If your roommate is on the lease, you can only ask them to leave but can't evict them.

If they are not on the lease, you can still try to ask them to leave but there's very little hope in doing this because they know you can't just throw them out under California law.

Alternatively, ask your landlord to  if you're on good terms with your landlord. The catch is the landlord may decide to evict you both especially if they didn't know about your roommate.

Next Steps for Evicting a Roommate if You Can't Do It By Yourself

Even when your roommate's name is not on the lease, California law treats them as if they were a month-to-month tenant.

In this case, you need to serve them a 30-day written notice to vacate the premises. If they are adamant to stay, file for an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court.

Prepare to support your claims and gather documentation that could help you get them evicted.  If you win, you get to have them out of your way, but if you don't they not only get to stay, but you may have to pay their litigation costs.

How to Evict a Roommate in California with the Help of DoNotPay

Instead of going through the emotional, financial, and physical hassle of trying to evict a roommate in California on your own, use DoNotPay to get them out of the way quickly and conveniently.

DoNotPay is here to guide you through it and file your disputes on your behalf. Our Landlord Protection product can help you:

  • Get back your security deposits
  • Learn about your state's eviction laws and what protections apply in your case
  • Resolve disputes regarding repairs with your landlord
  • Resolve disputes with roommates by filing demand letters or going through small claims court
  • Break your lease early

How To Break a Lease In California Using DoNotPay:

If you want to break a lease in California but don't know where to start, DoNotPay has you covered in 4 easy steps:

  1. Search for and open the Landlord Protection product on DoNotPay.


  2. Select which issue applies to you.


  3. Answer a simple set of questions so our chatbot can collect the necessary information to create your demand letter.


  4. Choose whether you want DoNotPay to send the demand letter to your landlord or roommate on your behalf. If you already tried sending a demand letter and it didn't work, we can help you start the small claims court process.


And that's it! You should hear back from your landlord directly once your demands are sent.

DoNotPay works across all companies/entities/groups with the click of a button

DoNotPay works with many entities to simplify legal processes. You can get a roommate evicted in California just like you would in Nevada or Washington. Here are more examples of what DoNotPay can help you do when you get stuck:

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Besides solving these issues quickly, you can also get the following problems solved:

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