VIDEO: Unlawful Detainers in California – What you Need to Know

Today we’ll talk about what comes after the notice you served your tenant has expired.

VIDEO: Unlawful Detainers in California - What you Need to Know

This part of the eviction process is commonly known as filing an unlawful detainer. Please keep in mind that the time frames given in this video are estimates and vary depending on the county court where your property is located. For a more exact time frame, call for a free consultation.

This form is commonly filled out by an attorney, then filed in court by a process server. The process server then needs to serve a copy to the tenant.

Just like the notice, there are 3 ways you can serve a copy of the unlawful detainer.

If the process server serves the tenant personally, the tenant has 5 business days to respond whether or not they want to go to trial.

If it is sub-served to a competent adult on the property, a certified copy must be mailed and the tenant has 15 business days to respond.

Once due diligence has been done to attempt to serve the copy of the unlawful detainer and the tenant is evading service, then an “order to post” must be acquired from the court
for permission to post somewhere easily visible on the door. A certified copy must be mailed and the tenant is given 15 business days to respond to the lawsuit.

Filing and serving an unlawful detainer can take anywhere between 1-3 business days.

So what happens next?

We come at a cross road. If the tenant decides to answer the lawsuit, you go to court and have a trial. Once you have won your case, the next step is called “Writ of Possession” which is just a fancy way of
saying the court has ordered possession of the property back to you. The court clerk fills out the proper paperwork and hands it to the sheriff where then the sheriff posts the order on the eviction property. The tenant
now has 5 business days to remove their belongings.

If the tenant doesn’t answer, then you file for what is commonly known as a “Default Judgment” and we skip to the writ of possession after the 5 or 15 business days are up.

After the 5 or 15 business days are up, you then ask for a trial date. The court clerk usually sets it within 10-20 days at the time of request.

Once the writ of possession is acquired (after you’ve won your case or the case goes into default judgment) the sheriff typically has 3-15 days to post a copy on the eviction property.

After the 5 business days have expired, the sheriff will forcefully remove the tenants if they have not vacated the premises and your eviction is now complete.

Next we’ll cover a few tips, tricks and things to keep in mind so your case doesn’t get delayed.

*Remember that at this point, receiving any sort of owed rent in part or full will cancel the process and you must start all over again from the step 1, serving of a notice.

*Accuracy is key. Any mistakes will only prolong the process having to restart from step 1.

*The most common responses from tenants include challenges such as “motion to attack the method of service, motion to answer the complaints received, and or motion to attack the sufficiency of the notice received..” So make sure you keep detailed records of the service attempts, dates etc.

*when filing the unlawful detainer complaint, ensure that a prejudgment right of possession is also filed. You cannot legally evict people not listed on the unlawful detainer. This form allows you to list unnamed occupants illegally residing on the eviction property. This action automatically makes them defendants in the lawsuit.

For more on Unlawful Detainers, continue reading the following article: Winning Unlawful Detainer Cases in 10 Steps.