How to Evict Roommate Not on Lease in California

How to Evict a Roommate Not on Lease in California

Living with a roommate can be a great way to save money and share expenses, but sometimes situations arise where it becomes necessary to evict a roommate who is not on the lease. Whether it’s due to non-payment of rent, violation of lease terms, or personal conflicts, evicting a roommate can be a complex process. In this article, we will guide you through the steps of evicting a roommate in California and answer some frequently asked questions.

1. Communicate and Document the Issue: Before taking legal action, it’s essential to communicate with your roommate about the problem and document any incidents or violations. Keep a record of conversations, texts, emails, and any evidence supporting your claim. This documentation will be crucial if you end up going to court.

2. Review the Lease Agreement: Even if your roommate is not named on the lease, review your lease agreement to understand the terms and conditions. Some leases may have provisions that allow you to add or remove roommates with the landlord’s consent. Make sure you comply with any such requirements.

3. Provide a Written Notice: In California, you must provide a written notice to your roommate before initiating eviction proceedings. The notice must state the reason for eviction, the date by which they must vacate the premises (usually 30 days), and your signature. Keep a copy of the notice for your records.

4. File an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit: If your roommate fails to vacate the premises by the specified date, you can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in the appropriate California court. This process typically involves filling out a complaint, paying a filing fee, and serving the roommate with the necessary documents. It’s recommended to consult an attorney or seek legal assistance for this step.

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5. Serve the Lawsuit Papers: The lawsuit papers, including the summons and complaint, must be served to your roommate according to California law. This typically involves personal service by a process server, a registered process server, or a sheriff’s deputy. Make sure to follow the correct service procedures to avoid any delays in the eviction process.

6. Attend the Court Hearing: Once the lawsuit has been filed and served, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both parties will have an opportunity to present their case, and the judge will make a decision. If the judge rules in your favor, they will issue a judgment for possession of the premises, and your roommate will be ordered to vacate.

7. Enforce the Court Order: If your roommate still refuses to leave after the court order, you may need to involve local law enforcement to enforce the judgment. Local sheriff’s deputies can assist with physically removing the roommate from the premises, if necessary. However, it’s important to note that only law enforcement officials have the authority to carry out the eviction.


1. Can I remove my roommate’s belongings if they refuse to leave?
No, removing your roommate’s belongings without following the proper legal process is illegal. You must obtain a court order for possession of the premises and allow your roommate a reasonable opportunity to retrieve their belongings.

2. Can I change the locks to prevent my roommate from entering?
Changing the locks without your roommate’s permission or a court order is generally not allowed. California law requires landlords to provide tenants with a key to access the premises.

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3. What if my roommate stops paying rent during the eviction process?
If your roommate stops paying rent, you may be able to add a claim for unpaid rent to your unlawful detainer lawsuit. Consult with an attorney to understand your options.

4. Can I evict my roommate for being loud or disruptive?
If your roommate’s behavior violates the terms of your lease agreement or disrupts your right to quiet enjoyment of the premises, you may have grounds for eviction. Document the incidents and consult with an attorney to discuss your specific situation.

5. Can I evict my roommate if they are engaging in illegal activities?
If your roommate is engaging in illegal activities, such as drug use or criminal behavior, you may have grounds for eviction. Document the activities and consult with an attorney to understand the best course of action.

6. Can I evict my roommate if they are on the lease but not paying their share of the rent?
If your roommate is listed on the lease, the eviction process may be different. Consult with an attorney to understand the specific steps you need to take and the legal obligations of your roommate.

7. How long does the eviction process typically take?
The eviction process timeline can vary depending on several factors, including court availability and the cooperation of all parties involved. Generally, the process can take several weeks to a few months. Consulting with an attorney can provide a better estimate based on your specific circumstances.

Evicting a roommate is a serious matter that requires adherence to California laws and legal procedures. It’s crucial to seek legal advice and assistance to ensure you navigate the eviction process correctly and protect your rights as a tenant.

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