Five-Day Demand for Possession

The following entry describes the “notice” requirements for evicting squatters through forcible detainer lawsuits in California. It requires a different format because—unlike standard unlawful detainer evictions—squatters are not tenants; that is, there was never a landlord-tenant relationship.

Before filing a forcible detainer lawsuit (again, this only applies to squatters), the landlord must make a demand that the squatter surrender possession of the property. The good news is this does not have the same strict formalities as a standard notice to quit; technically, landlords can just orally tell the squatter to leave. Ideally, the landlord will make this demand when the police are investigating the matter.

Alternatively, the landlord may provide the squatter with a written notice addressed to the squatter and all other unknown occupants, along with the property address and a demand that the squatters immediately surrender possession, along with a date and signature. The landlord likely does not want to confront the squatter for safety reasons, and is therefore best served by placing the notice on or by the front door and mailing it.

Whichever notice method the landlord chooses, the squatter has five calendar days to vacate. The day after the demand is made is the first day. If the squatters vacate within those five days, then the landlord may simply reclaim possession and change the locks; otherwise, the landlord may file a lawsuit after the fifth day passes.