What can I Expect When I Evict a Tenant in 2018?
In 2013, Los Angeles did a massive overhaul of their court system by closing many eviction courthouses due to crushing budget cuts. In those days, an average eviction would take around 30 days if uncontested, meaning the tenant doesn’t bother to show up in court. After these courthouse closings, the ones that remained opened became overwhelmed causing the average eviction rate to go up to anywhere between 45-60 days if uncontested. These cases would string out even further if the tenant decided to fight their case by requesting a jury trial!
The initial budget cuts caused 20 unlawful detainer courts within Los Angeles County to close out of the 25, leaving only 5 available to handle all evictions. In 2015, Los Angeles decided to reopen the Van Nuys and Norwalk courthouses to help handle all of the cases. In 2018, three more were opened; Compton, West Covina and Inglewood. So what does this mean for you?
What to expect when evicting a tenant in 2018
More courthouses equal faster cases, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case. For some reason, unlawful detainer cases still take longer on average and the reason is simple: tenants are contesting the majority of the cases. There are so many resources available to tenants nowadays like self-help websites, tenant rights groups and even self-help counters at all of the courthouses to assist tenants in fighting their unlawful detainer case.
Other factors to consider are court system rehauls such as Los Angeles County courts implementing new computer systems in 2017 which caused additional backlog in the hearing of eviction cases. The employees and staff had to take the time to get trained on how to use the new system which caused delays in writ of possessions, default unlawful detainers and jury trials.
What’s worse is you could only get status updates from the court within a short window of time. 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon and the only information you can solicit was whether or not your case had been filed but not an approximate time it would take for it to be processed.
Another area where delays are now a common occurrence is jury trials. Most trials won’t even get resolved on the initial date of the trial especially when tenants have an attorney on their side. On a recent random day in a Los Angeles court room there were 60 cases on the docket. Out of those, at least 40 had an attorney representing a tenant! This is a direct tactic to delay cases even further buying tenants a ridiculous amount of time and gaining leverage to get ridiculous settlements.
Tenant attorneys know how to delay cases by asking a judge for a jury trial. This alone can cause weeks of delay because the judge must set a firm date and request a downtown LA courtroom or courthouse and go through the process of jury selection and so on. This is when the attorneys approach the landlord and demand settlements that include records being sealed (as in this eviction won’t be on their records which will avoid warning future landlords), relocation expenses and more!
Once you finally get through all of that mess and get a judgment awarded, the next part of the “waiting game” is to get the Sheriff’s office to schedule your posting and lockout. Depending on your luck, this could be another 1 month delay!
Orange County has switched to strictly electronic unlawful detainer filing. So now, landlords and landlord attorneys cannot file directly with the court but rather upload digital documents and fill out digital forms. Average turnaround time for “processing” these filings are anywhere between 1 to 2 days. These are costly hours when it comes to a tenant that does not want to vacate your premises. The kicker here is, while landlords are forced to strictly e-file, tenants have court staff allocated to accept their filings and responses over the counter directly in court.
In San Bernardino, one of the quickest courts was Fontana but a recent surge of attorneys representing tenants request jury trials causing massive delays and setbacks. These requests make it so that the cases have to be heard in San Bernardino and Riverside creating at least a 1 month delay and an extra free month of rent to your tenant.
In San Diego, it is worth mentioning that their court systems have also switched to strict electronic filing systems which cause 48 hour turnaround time delays. Not all San Diego courts hear unlawful detainer cases and the ones that do are so overworked and understaffed that getting a court hearing scheduled where a defense attorney files any type of motion can be at least a 1 month delay.
So what can you expect while evicting your tenants in 2018? Delays. We’re hoping that we can at least work on getting uncontested evictions to 60 days from filing to lockout. When it comes contested evictions, as in an attorney representing the tenant case, it can take anywhere between 3 to 4 months depending on the county.
At Fast Eviction Service, help on any of the issues discussed in this article is simply a click or phone call away. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at (800) 686-8686 to discuss your questions for a free evaluation of your case.
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Filed under: Eviction Procedure