How to file an unlawful detainer in California

As a landlord any place in the country, it is important that you are aware of the various steps to be followed while serving an eviction notice or, technically as it is called, an unlawful detainer to a tenant. In case your tenant has not paid rent on time or has broken the law or has not adhered to the terms and agreements agreed upon while renting your property, you cannot legally simply ask them to leave. The tenant has the right to be notified about the notice being served and given time to take countermeasures or vacate the premises. Since there are quite a few legal proceedings in serving an unlawful detainer which varies from place to place, a concise description of the steps to be taken in California is detailed below.

Step 1

Find out the relevant information about the specific court in California in which the paperwork has to be filed as it is location specific. Once that is determined, you have to head over to the clerk’s office or online and collect the specific form and fill it out. The fields that need to be filled out are the name and address of the court, the date of filing the case, along with the name of your lawyer and his information.

In case you have not appointed a lawyer yet and don’t intend to do so, fill out your details. The fields that have to be left blank are the case number slot that will be filled by the clerk and the notice section that will be entered by the person entering the sermon. To file the notice, you need to pay a certain filing amount. In case you don’t want to pay, you could apply for an order implying that along with the notice. Read more to know about integrated filing. Once the necessary details are filled in the form, only then you can proceed further.

Step 2

You then have to serve a copy of the notice to your tenant. Legally, it is not allowed for the landlord to hand over the notice. Instead, you have to hire someone who has the authority of service and can do the same for you. The tenant can either be served in person or certified postal mail. The notice will have specific regulations and time periods in which the tenant has to respond. Generally, unlawful detainer cases are fast-tracked and the notice period is short. It is advisable to take the help of a legal attorney in the process who will help you make the proceedings go smoothly.

Step 3

The legal notice generally is of two types. Either it is a 3-day notice where the tenant is asked to pay the rent or quit or a direct 30, 6- or 90-day notice for vacating the property. You have to first determine what kind of notice you want to serve. Once that is done, you may fill in a few more papers for additional permissions like the option to enter the property legally. Again, an attorney can help smooth the process.

Now the tenant may respond to your notice and pay the rent on time. In case that is a satisfactory outcome according to your liking, you may choose to close the case there and file for a dismissal in the court.

Step 4

In case your tenant responds to your eviction notice or chooses to ignore it, the next step is to coordinate with the court and fill any additional forms for attending the court hearings. You also have to notify the tenant about the upcoming court visits.

Step 5

This is the last step. In case your tenant decides that he or she is being wrongfully evicted and decides to defend the case in front of a jury, it means there is no scope of a settlement anymore. Now the decision rests with the jury and the judge and whatever decision they take, you have to comply with it. In case the decision is in your favor, you can now legally evict the tenant and claim your property, and your case will be considered closed legally.

Once all these procedures are followed, an unlawful detainer case in California is legally absolved.

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