California state law aims to protect tenants from unfair or abusive landlords while also granting landlords to ability to remove bad tenants from their properties. The state's laws governing notices to vacate generally allow tenants the opportunity to correct any problems before an eviction can proceed.
Termination of Lease Without Eviction
Leases with a fixed end date in California don't require either side to give notice; the lease just ends on the specified date. However, different notice rules apply when ending a monthly lease without a fixed end date. Tenants can always terminate such an agreement by giving advance notice of at least as many days as there are between rent periods. If the rent is due once a month, then one month's notice is required.
Landlords must either give 30 days' notice or 60 days' notice, depending on circumstances. If all the tenants in a property have lived there for more than one year, 60 days' notice from the landlord to terminate tenancy is almost always required. If one or more of the tenants has been there less than a year, 30 days' notice is typically required.
Eviction for Nonpayment
Evictions for nonpayment of rent are covered by section 1161(2) of the California Code of Civil Procedure. If a tenant fails to make rent payments as required by the lease, the landlord can issue a written notice demanding tenants move out or pay the rent within three days. If the tenants pay the money in full, the lease remains valid. If they don't, the landlord can file for an eviction order in court.
California law doesn't allow landlords to lock tenants out of rented properties or perform other "do it yourself" evictions. Only a court order can evict a tenant.
Eviction for Lease Violations
Evictions due to other lease violations, like keeping a pet against the lease or subletting without permission from the landlord, fall under sections 1161(3) and 1161(4) of the California Code of Civil Procedure. Landlords are required to give written notice demanding tenants either remedy the violation or move out within three days. If the tenants don't remedy the problem, the landlord can file for an eviction.