Tenants Union: Eviction Notices

Notices on the door are scary. The language seems as if everything is already done and you’ve suddenly been evicted. That’s why it’s important to know that notices are processes, not endings.

First and foremost, if you receive any of the following documents, respond immediately: 

● 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit

● 30-Day Eviction Notice

● 60-Day Eviction Notice

● 5-Day Court Summons 

If you DO NOT respond, you could lose your home or enter a court process.

A 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit is not an eviction notice. Rather, it’s a warning from the landlord that results from (a presumed) failure to pay rent, or some type of violation of the lease agreement. The notice must indicate the specific issue and present an alternative for resolving the problem. Ex: A notice says that you must remove items blocking the hallway because they’re a fire hazard. You must remove the items, take pictures, and send a letter to the landlord with the pictures as evidence before the end of the third day. Once you’ve complied and communicated that, the reason for the notice should be resolved. If you do not comply or respond, the landlord can initiate a court eviction process. If you receive a 3-Day Notice for what you believe is a bogus reason—it says you haven’t paid rent and you know that you certainly have—you should seek legal counsel right away.

When you receive a 5-Day Court Summons it means your landlord has filed an eviction case against you in court, called an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit.
You have 5 days to reply to this notice. If you do not respond to the court summons, then the landlord will request an entry of default and judgment for possession to take the unit back from you. The sheriffs then post a 5-day notice to vacate on your door, and you and your things will have to be out by then. 

Since that’s obviously not ideal, you should file a response immediately after seeing the summons. This is another moment in which you would need legal assistance.
L.A. Tenants Union recommends the Eviction Defense Network, which offers free consultations and services at reasonable cost: 1930 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 208, (213) 385-8112). If pressed for time, you can answer the eviction yourself at the Shriver Center, 111 North Hill Street, Room 115 or at the self-help center at the court where your case was filed. You will still need to find legal help for the rest of the court process. After you respond, the landlord will then request a trial date and the court will mail notification to you and the landlord. The date will be within 20 days of the request. 

Going to court, there are four possible outcomes: 

1. You win because of a legal or technical issue and you can stay; 

2. A conditional judgment is issued wherein you win if you can pay reduced back rent within 5 days. If unable to pay, the landlord wins, and you must move out; 

3. A stipulated judgment or court-approved settlement wherein you must pay back rent and other costs, and may stay or move out depending on the agreement; 

4. The landlord wins and receives the judgment for possession and you have to move out.

It’s crucial to know that you and the landlord can negotiate a settlement at any time during the process, whether it involves continuation of your tenancy or some other arrangement. The L.A. Tenants Union has seen that tenants’ negotiating power increases when multiple people in a building are facing similar situations. For example, East Side tenants were facing eviction when their building was slated to be replaced by an affordable housing development. They successfully negotiated for the right to return to units in the newly constructed building.
An eviction notice is not the end of the conversation.

If your apartment falls under L.A.’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) (look up your address to find out: zimas.lacity.org) a 30-Day or 60-Day Notice could represent one of the six reasons evictions are permitted by no fault of yours, such as when the owner wants your unit for a resident manager or intends to move in their family. Recently, it’s more common for landlords to evict in this manner under the Ellis Act—a state law that allows landlords to remove the building from the rental housing market—however, these evictions require 120-Day Notice. A tenant who is disabled or 62 and over—and has lived in the unit more than one year—may file a Notice to City of Claims for Extended Tenancy. This would allow them to remain in the unit for an extension of one year and time for further negotiation. In any case of no-fault eviction under RSO, you are entitled to compensation (see hcidla.lacity.org).

For a building not under RSO, the difference between a 30-Dayand a 60-Day Notice is a matter of whether you’ve lived in the unit for under or over one year, though the reason for eviction can be wide-ranging. Generally, notices in non-RSO buildings do not have to state the landlord’s reason for ending the tenancy.

In any situation, when receiving a notice, respond as fast as possible.


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