Dealing With Month-To-Month Tenants


The advantage of having a year-long contract for a rental property is that you know that you’ll be collecting rent for the space for at least a year, something that isn’t guaranteed when you rent the unit on a month-to-month system. The biggest advantage to the month-to-month system is that California law doesn’t require that you and your tenant have a written contract. The agreement can be oral, this makes it easier for you as the landlord to decide if the rental situation isn’t working and you want the tenant to move out.

While you aren’t required to create a contract for a month-to-month rental in California, you do have to provide your tenants with written contact information.

When you’re dealing with a month-to-month tenancy agreement, you have the right to ask the tenant to leave. Your reasons for doing so can include things like:

  • You need the space for personal reasons.
  • You feel they’re damaging the property.
  • They aren’t following your rules.
  • You’re concerned that they’re committing illegal acts on the property.
  • They’re consistently late with their monthly rent payment.

If you’re dealing with a tenant that has signed a long-term lease agreement, you must give them a 30-day notice before you can formally start the eviction process. If the tenant has lived in the unit for more than a year, the amount of time you have to provide them doubles.

With a tenant who is living on a month-to-month basis, you’re obligated to stick to this 30 day notice period. You’re free to tell the tenant they’re being evicted. It is worth noting that if you accept the rent one day and fail to mention that the rental space won’t be available for the full 30 days and then try to evict them the next, there’s a strong possibility that they’ll file a lawsuit against you.

What you’re not allowed to do is simply lock the doors so the tenant can no longer get into their rented space. You’re also not allowed to suddenly decide to remove all of their possessions. When it comes to evicting a tenant who doesn’t want to leave, there are a few things you must do.

If the tenant refuses to vacate the premises, you have to go to the municipal court and file an unlawful detainer action. This is a form that asks the court for permission to evict your tenant. If the tenant doesn’t present a valid counterargument, the court contacts the sheriff who arranges to evict the tenant. It’s in your best interest to let the law handle the situation and to simply stay out of their way.

Landlord/tenant laws are in a constant state of flux, so it is in your best interest to constantly review them before signing a contract with a new tenant.