Overview of Nuisance Evictions in California

A California landlord is entitled to evict a tenant who causes or permits a nuisance. This article discusses what constitutes a nuisance under California law and how to deal with the problem from a practical and legal perspective. 

“Nuisance” Defined

A nuisance is defined as an act that is injurious to health or is indecent or offensive to the senses or that obstructs the free use of property so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property. See CC §3479. The basic concept underlying the law of nuisance is that one should use one’s own property so as not to injure the property of another. An action for private nuisance is designed to redress a substantial and unreasonable invasion of one’s interest in the free use and enjoyment of one’s property. ‘

The invasion may be intentional and unreasonable. It may be unintentional but caused by negligent or reckless conduct; or it may result from an abnormally dangerous activity for which there is strict liability.

The following are examples of what has been found to constitute a nuisance to support an eviction:

  • Noise during the usual hours of sleep
  • Being boisterous and intoxicated while quarreling to excess
  • Using vile language
  • Selling a controlled substance on the premises
  • Unlawfully possessing or using illegal weapons or ammunition
  • Dogfighting
  • Cockfighting

A nuisance also includes the illegal use, manufacture, causing to be manufactured, importation, possession, possession for sale, sale, furnishing, or giving away of any of the following under CCP §1161(4); CC §3485(c):

A nuisance also includes committing an offense involving the manufacture, cultivation, importation into the state, transportation, possession, possession for sale, sale, furnishing, administering, or giving away, or providing a place to use or fortification of a place involving controlled substances. CCP §1161(4); CC §3486(c).

Additionally, a lease or rental agreement can detail what constitutes a tenant nuisance. For instance, the agreement may list actions like being loud or disruptive. This outline of inappropriate behavior ensures renters know upfront the landlord’s expectations of them while residing in the unit.

What You Can Do When a Tenant Becomes a Nuisance

If a tenant becomes a nuisance, the landlord should first contact the tenant in person about his or her behavior. For example, if the tenant is being too noisy, the landlord must let them know that their noise levels are disturbing the neighbors and those around them. Take a friendly approach. Acting in a threatening manner can exacerbate the situation.

If informal negotiation does not rectify the problem, a California landlord can issue a three day notice to tenants. Depending on the type of violation, the three day notice can request (1) that the tenant correct the violation (or stop the nuisance behavior), or (2) that the tenant leave and vacate the rental unit.

The nuisance may be considered curable or incurable depending on its nature.  For example, if the nuisance is based on making loud noise, it would be considered curable and the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to cease the noisy behavior.  If the nuisance is based on illegal activity, it would not be considered curable, such that the tenant would be subject to eviction upon expiration of an unconditional three day notice. 

Evicting a tenant based on nuisance can be a nuisance in itself, due to the difficulties of proof in many nuisance cases.  Make sure you have your ducks in order before initiating the eviction process. 

Lynx Legal is here to handle all of your eviction needs, including evictions based on nuisance.  We have extensive experience in this field, having handled over 12,000 evictions over the past 13 years.  We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or  Our experienced professionals are standing by to take your order or answer any questions you may have. 

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