Evictions - Act Fast!
I often hear both landlords and tenants say that it is hard to evict San Francisco tenants. This is a myth. And its perpetuation is bad for both sides of the housing market.
This myth may inhibit a landlord with a genuinely troublesome tenant from getting rid of him or her. And the longer a landlord waits provides that troublesome tenant with a stronger defense. That is not good for either the landlord or the other tenants.
On the other hand, this myth may make a good tenant feel more secure than the circumstance permits. For, even a basically good tenant who is a little late on rent and ignores (or does not see) a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit is in deep trouble, if the landlord chooses to evict. It does not matter to the court if you are out of town at Burning Man when the 3-Day Notice is posted!
The reality is that if a landlord files for an eviction, it generally takes less than six weeks for the case to be fully resolved through a negotiated settlement, or a few weeks longer if the case goes to trial. This is because eviction cases are handled in a special, fast-track court process: a tenant only has five days to respond to an eviction Complaint; then a trial date is set approximately three weeks after the tenant has filed a response, in most cases. Compare this to other civil lawsuits where the defendant has four weeks to respond to the initial complaint, and the case may last one or two years!
So, the lesson learned here is: because the eviction process happens fast, so, too, must you act fast.