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Avoiding an Unlawful Detainer

Ways to Avoid an Unlawful Detainer Action

State law protects some tenants from eviction for unpaid rent due from March 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022

Tenants who owe rent, or other money due under a rental agreement, between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 are protected from eviction if they:

  • Turned in a COVID-19 Declaration of Financial Distress
  • Paid 25% of their rent due between September 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021

Get more information about who qualifies for these eviction protections.

Landlord And Tenant Agree on the Tenant Moving Out

You can avoid an Unlawful Detainer action if you agree with the tenant that they can move out. The tenant and landlord have to agree on the day that the tenant will move out. This agreement ends the relationship between the landlord and the tenant.

If you do not agree on a day, there may be some problems with enforcing the agreement. If the landlord and tenant do not make an agreement regarding rent that is still due, then the tenant might still be liable for rent while living in the property.

Landlord Believes the Tenant Has Moved Out

If rent is overdue for 14 days or more and the landlord thinks the tenant moved out, the landlord can send the tenant a Notice of Belief of Abandonment. You can read more about this on the California Court’s website. You can also read about returning the security deposit.

The landlord should be very careful. The tenant may be eligible to sue the landlord for "wrongful eviction." This can happen if the rent was not overdue for 14 days OR if the landlord had no reason to think that the tenant moved out.

You can read about what to do when a tenant’s personal property has been left in a rental unit on the Department of Consumer Affairs website.

How to Get More Information

You can find the location of the Self-Help Centers, Lawyer Referral Services, and online resources about landlord-tenant law on the General Information page of the section of the website.

Next Step

Go to the Before Filing An Unlawful Detainer Action page.

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