California Unlawful Detainer Complaint

Filing a California unlawful detainer complaint involves many steps. First, you must provide the tenant with sufficient notice to vacate the rental. In addition, some local cities and counties require landlords to provide tenants with additional notice requirements before filing a California unlawful detainer complaint. Read on to learn more.

California Unlawful Detainer Overview

To evict a tenant in California, you (landlord) must file an unlawful detainer complaint. In the unlawful detainer lawsuit, the landlord is the plaintiff and the tenant is the defendant. Unlawful detainer proceedings are summary in nature. These types of proceedings move quickly, and the tenant usually has limited time to respond during the lawsuit. For example, tenants have five days to respond after being served with an unlawful detainer court summons. Most matters proceed to trial within 20 days after the landlord or tenant files a request to set trial.

California law assures the tenant a mandatory right to a court hearing. During the unlawful detainer court hearing, each party will be provided the opportunity to present evidence in support of their position. If the court decides in favor of the landlord, the court will issue a writ of possession. This allows the sheriff to remove the tenant from the rental. The court may award the landlord court costs and attorney fees.

How to File a California Unlawful Detainer Complaint

Before filing a California unlawful detainer complaint, you must provide the tenant with proper notice. One of the most common reasons people are evicted is the failure to pay rent. A 3-day notice can be provided to a tenant that is behind in rent. Under other circumstances, the landlord must either provide a tenant with a 30 or 60-day notice. These types of notices are used for periodic tenants. For example, if a tenant has resided in a rental for less than a year, the landlord may serve a 30-day notice to vacate the rental. The landlord must provide a 60-day notice to vacate if the tenant has resided in the rental longer than a year. Once the notice period ends, you can file an unlawful detainer action if the tenant refuses to leave. Complete the following forms to file a California unlawful detainer complaint:

At San Diego Esquire, we can help you complete the forms and review them before filing them with the court. We can also represent you in court during the unlawful detainer trial. We provide a variety of unbundled legal services to California landlords. Review our California Landlord Frequently Asked Questions for more information about filing an unlawful detainer action against a tenant.

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