How to Evict a Roommate Not on the Lease in California

How to Evict a Roommate Not on the Lease in California

Living with a roommate can be a rewarding experience, but sometimes situations arise where you need to remove a roommate who is not on the lease. In California, the process of evicting a roommate can be complicated, as there are specific laws and procedures that must be followed. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of evicting a roommate not on the lease in California, and answer some frequently asked questions to help you navigate the process successfully.

1. Understand your legal rights: As the leaseholder, you have the right to control who lives in the rental property. If you have a roommate who is not on the lease, they are considered a subtenant or a lodger. This means they have fewer rights compared to a tenant on the lease.

2. Review your lease agreement: Before taking any action, carefully review your lease agreement to ensure there are no restrictions on subletting or having additional roommates. If your lease prohibits subletting, you may need to seek permission from your landlord before proceeding with the eviction process.

3. Communicate with your roommate: Start by having an open and honest conversation with your roommate. Explain your reasons for wanting them to leave and see if you can come to a mutual agreement. If they refuse to leave voluntarily, proceed to the next step.

4. Serve a written notice: In California, you must serve a written notice to your roommate before filing for eviction. The type of notice depends on the circumstances. If your roommate has not paid rent, you can serve a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. If the issue is unrelated to rent, a 30-day notice to terminate the tenancy is required. Make sure the notice is properly drafted and includes all necessary information.

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5. File an unlawful detainer lawsuit: If your roommate fails to comply with the written notice, you can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in the appropriate California court. This lawsuit initiates the eviction process. You will need to pay a filing fee and provide the necessary documentation, including the notice and proof of service.

6. Attend the court hearing: Once the lawsuit is filed, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both you and your roommate will have the opportunity to present your cases. If the judge rules in your favor, you will receive a judgment for possession, which allows you to regain control of the rental property.

7. Enforce the judgment: If your roommate still refuses to leave after receiving a judgment for possession, you may need to involve the sheriff. Contact your local sheriff’s office to schedule a lockout. The sheriff will physically remove the roommate from the property.


1. Can I change the locks to force my roommate out?
No, changing the locks without following the proper eviction process is illegal in California. You must go through the legal eviction process outlined above.

2. How long does the eviction process take?
The eviction process can vary depending on the circumstances and court availability. It usually takes around 4-6 weeks from serving the notice to regaining possession of the property.

3. Can I physically remove my roommate if they refuse to leave after the court judgment?
No, only the sheriff can carry out an eviction. Attempting to physically remove your roommate can result in legal consequences.

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4. Can my roommate sue me for evicting them?
Your roommate can file a lawsuit against you if they believe the eviction was unlawful. It is crucial to follow the proper legal procedures to protect yourself.

5. Can I evict my roommate for reasons other than non-payment of rent?
Yes, you can evict your roommate for various reasons, such as violating the terms of the lease agreement, causing damage to the property, or engaging in illegal activities.

6. Can my landlord evict my roommate?
No, as the leaseholder, it is your responsibility to evict your roommate. Your landlord cannot directly evict your roommate unless they are also on the lease.

7. Can I recover unpaid rent or damages from my roommate?
Yes, you can sue your roommate in small claims court for any unpaid rent or damages they caused to the property. Keep records and evidence to support your claims.

Evicting a roommate not on the lease in California requires following the proper legal procedures. It is crucial to consult with an attorney or seek legal advice to ensure you navigate the process correctly. Remember to communicate openly, serve the necessary notices, and adhere to the court’s decisions to successfully remove a roommate from your rental property.