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commercial eviction california

This guide offers landlords an overview of the eviction process, helping them understand their rights and obligations to ensure a smooth and lawful eviction.

What Are the Grounds for Evicting a Commercial Tenant in California?

Commercial tenants can be evicted for several reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Non-payment of rent. This is the most straightforward ground for eviction.
  • Breach of lease terms. This may include subletting without permission, unauthorized use, or failure to maintain the property as agreed in the lease.
  • Expiration of the lease. If the tenant overstays their lease without renewal, it may be grounds for eviction.

How Much Notice Is Required to Evict California Commercial Tenants?

The eviction process often starts with serving a three day notice to the tenant, which is required for issues like unpaid rent or other lease violations. This notice must:

  • Clearly state the reason for eviction,
  • Specify the total amount of rent due (if applicable), and
  • Be properly served to the tenant through personal delivery, by leaving with someone of suitable age at the premises, or by a posting on the property while also mailing a copy.

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What Are the Most Important Considerations After Serving Notice?

  • Non-acceptance of rent. Landlords should refrain from accepting any rent after serving an eviction notice. Accepting payment can potentially negate the notice and halt the eviction process under California law.
  • Documentation. Maintain thorough records of all communications and actions taken, as these will be crucial if the case goes to court.

What Is the Commercial Eviction Process Timeline in California?

Following the three-day notice, if the tenant does not remedy the breach or vacate the property, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Here’s what to expect:

  • Filing the lawsuit. This must be done at the county courthouse, and the tenant will be served with legal papers.
  • Court hearing and judgment. The tenant has the opportunity to respond, and if they contest the eviction, a hearing will be scheduled. The court will then make a decision based on the evidence presented.

What Are the Key Differences Between Evicting a Commercial Tenant vs. a Residential Tenant in California?

Evicting a commercial tenant in California differs from evicting a residential tenant in several key ways.

Legal Protections and Lease Terms

  • Commercial tenants. Fewer protective laws cover commercial evictions, and much depends on the specific terms of the lease agreement. Commercial leases are largely governed by contract law principles, assuming that both parties have equal bargaining power.
  • Residential tenants. Residential tenants enjoy more protections under state and local housing laws, such as rent control ordinances and requirements for “just cause” eviction, ensuring that landlords can evict tenants only for specific reasons.

Eviction Reasons

  • Commercial. The primary reasons for evicting commercial tenants typically relate to the breach of lease terms, such as failure to pay rent or using the property for an unauthorized purpose.
  • Residential. For residential tenants, common reasons include nonpayment of rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or causing significant damage to the property.

Eviction Process and Notices

  • Commercial. The eviction process generally starts with a notice that is specific to the breach, such as a three-day notice to pay rent or quit if the issue is unpaid rent. There are no requirements for just cause, meaning the landlord does not need an additional reason for terminating the lease if it has naturally expired or if the tenant has violated lease conditions. But landlords must follow any procedures outlined in the commercial lease agreement.
  • Residential. The eviction process often requires a more detailed justification. For example, in cities with just cause eviction ordinances, landlords must provide a valid reason listed in the ordinance for the eviction.

Handling of Security Deposits

  • Commercial. There are fewer regulations regarding how security deposits are handled and returned. Disputes over security deposits are typically resolved based on the lease terms.
  • Residential. California law sets strict guidelines on how much can be charged for a security deposit and the timeline for returning it after the tenant moves out, including providing detailed reasons and receipts for any deductions.

Impact of Noncompliance with Procedures

  • Commercial. Due to the nature of business operations, the impact of eviction on a commercial tenant is most likely to involve financial losses. If you do not follow the correct eviction procedures, you could be responsible for resulting losses to the tenant.
  • Residential. Eviction is more likely to have personal or family impacts on residential tenants, so the law often provides a period for the tenant to correct the violation before eviction procedures can continue.

Given these differences, landlords dealing with commercial properties should be prepared to handle evictions with a focus on contractual obligations and potential business impacts, while residential landlords need to be well-versed in local tenant protection laws and just cause requirements. Engaging a real estate attorney experienced commercial property law can best help you navigate the specific challenges of a commercial eviction.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Evict a Commercial Tenant in California?

Given the legal complexities and potential for financial risk, it’s highly advisable for landlords to engage a real estate attorney with experience handling commercial evictions. An attorney can ensure that:

  • All procedures are correctly followed,
  • Legal documentation is properly prepared, and
  • The landlord’s interests are robustly defended in court.

Successfully evicting a commercial tenant in California hinges on following precise legal protocols and often requires professional legal assistance. Landlords should approach the process methodically, ensuring all actions are legally justified and documented. Consulting with a knowledgeable real estate attorney can provide crucial guidance and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

By understanding and applying these guidelines, landlords can navigate the complexities of commercial evictions more confidently and legally.

Avi Sinai Avi Sinai started to practice law in 2011, focusing on business and real estate transactions. The driving force behind the firm’s success is a relentless pursuit creating value for our clients. Our core belief is that clients deserve a positive return on their legal fees. Avi successfully represented clients in litigation, multiple trials, countless mediations, and administrative hearings.