California Landlord Frequently Asked Questions

Filing an unlawful detainer matter in California is a straightforward process. Below are answers to frequently asked landlord-tenant questions we receive. Contact us for more information on how to file or respond to an unlawful detainer lawsuit in California.

  1. What do I have to do before filing an unlawful detainer complaint with the court?

Landlords are required to provide tenants with proper notice to vacate premises before an unlawful detainer action is filed. The tenant must receive written notice to vacate. A landlord must provide a tenant who has resided on the premises for less than one year with a 30-day notice. Tenants who have resided within the rental for more than one year must be provided a 60-day notice to vacate. The notice must be properly served on the tenant. The notice provided to the tenant must expire before an unlawful detainer complaint is filed. Landlords must follow specific steps for providing notice to a tenant in a rent controlled unit.

  1. How do I file an unlawful detainer complaint with the court?

A California landlord can file an unlawful detainer complaint by completing and filing with the local court clerk the Summons, Complaint, and Civil Case Cover sheet. The court will contain the original filed complaint. A copy of the filed complaint must be served on the tenant along with a copy of the summons. The landlord should hire a process server to serve the notice on the tenant.

  1. How do I get an unlawful detainer trial date?

If the tenant files a response with the court, the landlord must file a Request/Counter Request to Set Case for Trial – Unlawful Detainer to have the matter set for trial. If the tenant fails to respond, the landlord can proceed to have a default judgment entered. The landlord must serve the tenant with the Request for Default, and complete Judgment – Unlawful Detainer and Writ of Execution documents. If the tenant fails to respond, the clerk will enter the judgment and issue the Writ of Execution.

  1. What do I do after a Writ of Execution has been issued by the court?

Take the Writ of Execution document to the local Sheriff’s office. The Sheriff will provide the tenant with notice to move out within 5 days.

  1. How can a lock-out be delayed?

A tenant can request a stay of execution to delay the lock-out. The tenant must file the stay as soon as he or she gets a notice from the Sheriff giving him or her 5 days to leave the unit. If the judge grants the stay, the eviction will be delayed. The tenant will have to pay rent if she continues to dwell in the unit during the extended duration.

  1. How can I collect a money judgment?

To collect a money judgment, identify the tenant’s assets. If you know where the tenant works, you can obtain a wage garnishment. You may also be able to obtain a bank levy.

Contact San Diego Esquire for more information about California landlord-tenant laws. We provide affordable legal document preparation services to California landlords and residents. Review our services and save money by avoiding expensive attorney fees.

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