Unlawful Detainers - Evictions (Landlord/Tenant)

Evictions, also known as an “unlawful detainer” action, is the legal process through which a tenant (residential or commercial) is involuntarily removed by a landlord. A landlord can seek an eviction for various reasons — such as failure to pay rent, nuisance complaints, or an owner move-in.


How does an unlawful detainer work in California?

Before eviction of a non-paying tenant can occur, the landlord must abide by a strict legal process. First, 5he landlord must serve a “notice to pay rent or quit,” which gives the tenant 3 business days (thus the actual amount of time can be 5-6 days) to pay the full amount due. If the tenant has not paid within that time, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer suit. If the tenant pays, then the landlord cannot sue for unlawful detainer. If the tenant pays a partial amount and the landlord accepts, the landlord must give another 3-day notice for the remaining amount due.


After the landlord files the unlawful detainer action, and serves the tenant with it, the tenant has 5 days in which to respond (although this can be 7 days, as Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays are not counted). If the tenant does not respond in the allotted time, then the landlord  may request the court enter the tenant’s “default” and an immediate “writ of possession.” Depending on how busy the courts are, the landlord can usually get the writ within 3-7 business days after filing the default request.


 Once the writ is issued, the landlord takes it to the sheriff, and the sheriff will post the writ (essentially a notification telling the tenant to leave) on the property and gives the tenant a few days to leave. At this point, the sheriff can enter the property and “lock out” the tenant.


If the tenant files a timely answer to the landlord’s initial unlawful detainer suit, then the landlord will not be able to obtain a default and quick writ of possession. The case will go through a normal litigation procedure. At this point, many tenants who attempt to defend themselves fail, as they are unfamiliar with the legal procedures and requirements to successfully defend themselves.


An experienced Los Angeles unlawful detainer attorney can help.

If you are being evicted or an unlawful detainer suit has been filed against you, a skilled eviction lawyer can help keep you in your house or apartment, or at least buy you some time by delaying the eviction process. If you are a landlord who wishes to evict a tenant, a qualified attorney can speed up the process and make sure all of the complex procedures are followed. Lilian has over 25 years of practice experience and is ready to help. Contact her today at (310) 920-5810 or lilianhoats@gmail.com to schedule a free, no-obligation, and confidential