California Unlawful Detainer Process & Evictions

Most California unlawful detainer proceedings are filed by the landlord because the tenant has failed to pay the rent. No matter what the reason, before a landlord can file an unlawful detainer proceeding to evict a tenant, the tenant’s right to possession of the property must be terminated. Notice of this termination must be provided in writing and a landlord must follow strict procedures to legally obtain possession of the premises. The unlawful detainer process can take from 20 to 45 days, and sometimes more depending upon the court branch in which the case is filed.

There are many reasons a landlord may want to terminate a renter’s tenancy. They include:

  • Nonpayment of rent,
  • A violation of the rental or lease agreement,
  • Renter engaging in illegal activity, or
  • The property being sold.

Generally speaking, the type of situation will determine the type of notice required to be given to the tenant. In California, when rent is unpaid, a 3-day notice can be provided to the tenant. In situations when the tenant has paid the rent but the landlord wants the tenant to move, a 30-day notice is required. Tenancies over one year require 60 days notice. (This rule had previously expired effective 1/1/06, but became effective again 1/1/07.) With governmental subsidized tenancies, a longer 90-day notice is required. Certain areas may also be under rent control which imposes specific restrictions and regulations between landlords and their tenants.

eviction notice

house with notice of eviction notice

The Court Process of Eviction

If after the expiration of the notice period the tenant remains in the property, the landlord must then proceed with filling the necessary court documents to obtain a court order for possession. This process is known as an unlawful detainer proceeding. In this process, the tenant must be served with the complaint. He or she then has five days to file response. Often tenants will file a response merely to delay the proceeding. If a response to unlawful detainer is filed, the matter will most likely have to proceed to a court trial before possession can be formally obtained.

Even after the court gives the landlord a judgment for possession of the property, some tenants may still remain in the property until the absolute last moment possible. Once an unlawful detainer judgment is obtained, the landlord will need to obtain a Writ of Possession that is served on the tenant by the Sheriff. The Sheriff will set a specific date on which the property will be turned over to the landlord. If the tenant remains in the property when the Sheriff arrives, the Sheriff will physically remove the occupants of the property and the landlord can make arrangements to change the locks.

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Our California Civil Services

Due to the varying complexities of civil proceedings, many fees must be quoted on an individual basis based on the services required. Our office no longer handles eviction and/or unlawful detainer proceedings. All of our services are quoted on a FLAT FEE basis and do NOT include any court filing fees or third party costs. Some of the more standard services are:

Civil Complaints and AnswersPrice
Small Claims Package
Includes preparation of claim, submission of documents to court, scheduling of hearing and arranging service of process
$200 plus $25 each defendant over 1
Civil Complaint
Limited with 1 cause of action
Each additional cause of action
Response to unverified Civil Complaint with affirmative defenses$250
Response to verified Civil Complaint with affirmative defenses$350
Other Civil and Misc. MattersPrice
Propounding Discovery Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, Production of Documents$250 up
Responding to Discovery Interrogatories, Request for Admissions, Production of Documents$250 up
Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment$375
Civil Restraining Order$400
Renew Judgment$350
California Sister State Judgment$300
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Other ServicesCall for quote