Real Estate LawReal Property LawCalifornia Eviction Process Explained

May 1, 2017by RaxterLaw

If the tenant doesn’t voluntarily move out after the landlord has properly given the required notice to the tenant, the landlord can evict the tenant. In order to evict the tenant, the landlord must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in superior court. In an eviction lawsuit, the landlord is called the “plaintiff” and the tenant is called the “defendant.”

An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a “summary” court procedure. This means that the court action moves forward very quickly, and that the time given the tenant to respond during the lawsuit is very short. For example, in most cases, the tenant has only five or ten days to file a written response to the lawsuit after being served with a copy of the landlord’s summons and complaint.

Normally, a judge will hear and decide the case within 20 days after the tenant or the landlord files a request to set the case for trial. The court-administered eviction process assures the tenant of the right to a court hearing if the tenant believes that the landlord has no right to evict the tenant. The landlord must use this court process to evict the tenant; the landlord cannot use self-help measures to force the tenant to move. For example, the landlord cannot physically remove or lock out the tenant, cut off utilities such as water or electricity, remove outside windows or doors, or seize (take) the tenant’s belongings in order to carry out the eviction. The landlord must use the court procedures.

You may also use a 30 day or sixty day notice which does not generally require a reason for the eviction. Whether you choose a 30day or 60 days notice depends on the term of tenancy and how long the tenant has occupied the property.

We are lucky in our general area that we do not have to worry about rent-controlled districts, but understand that the laws are similar but different for rent controlled areas and mobile home parks.

An “unlawful detainer” suit is the official name of what is commonly called an eviction lawsuit. Filing of an UD does not appear to be complicated by looking at the forms but understand that with any lawsuit the initial complaint documents are important to get right as the Plaintiff (aka Landlord) is bound by the complaint. If the complaint is wrong it could delay or even result in the lawsuit being dismissed.

The process should take about two months.

Once the lawsuit is processed by the court, it is then served upon the tenant(s), after which they have either five or ten days to respond.  Once the preliminary pleading/complaint issues are resolved by the court and the tenant answers the complaint the Court will then schedule a unlawful detainer trial within 20 or so days from the request to set trial. Although abbreviated the Unlawful Detainer trial is a trial nonetheless with evidence, testimony, etc. This is where preparation becomes vital.

Assuming the landlord prevails at trial, the Court will issue a writ which is what is given to the Sheriff in order to schedule a lock-out.

The above is a very abbreviated version of events revolving around an eviction. Landlords are wise to retain a professional property manager or real estate attorney. Our office generally recommends LCL Realty and Property Management in Menifee but just as with hiring any professional you should interview and meet with more than one before choosing which professional to use.

Landlords should be aware that there are many countywide programs and websites that give tenants legal advice. Evicting a tenant in California can be complicated and it would be prudent to speak with a real estate attorney. Our office only represents Landlords or Property Management companies.


Real Property Office practicing Unlawful detainers

27851 Bradley Rd, Ste 145

Menifee, CA 92586


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