Unlawful Detainer

The Eviction Process

In California, a landlord may evict a tenant for several reasons such as: failure to pay rent on time, breaking the lease or rental agreement and not correcting the problem, or damaging the property bringing down the value. However, a landlord must follow several steps in order to evict the tenants. It is against the law for a landlord to evict tenants without a court order. In order to get a court order the landlord must file an unlawful detainer action.

An unlawful detainer action (eviction) is a proceeding that allows Landlords to evict the current residents. There are several steps involved in this process.

  • The Landlord gives the Tenant all of the statutory-required notices (3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, 3 Day Notice to Quit, or a 30-Day or 60-Day Notice to Vacate.)
  • Landlord files Summons and Complaint (Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit) and serves the Tenant.
  • The Tenant then has 5 days to respond. If the Tenant does not respond, the Landlord will get an automatic Default Judgment and the Tenant will have limited time (usually 5 days) to vacate the premises.

Tenants Rights

Even if a Tenant has not paid rent, a Landlord cannot:

  • Physically remove the tenant.
  • Sell or take possession of the tenant’s personal property.
  • Lock the tenant out by changing the locks or
  • Shut off the utilities, like water or electricity.

Additionally, a landlord must meet certain standards of habitability. This means a landlord must make sure the premises are fit for residential occupation. If the premises are not fit for standard living conditions, and the Landlord has filed an unlawful detainer action, the Tenant may be able to justify the non-payment of rent and may be able to stay on the premises.

To protect your rights, you must file a response within the time required by law (5 days). If you fail to respond, your Landlord will get an automatic default meaning you lose your case.


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