Overview of the Eviction Process

Many evictions are a result a breach of the rental agreement. When a landlord has properly given the required notice to a tenant the tenant must decide if they will voluntarily move out or not. If the tenant fails to voluntarily move out, the landlord can evict the tenant. In order to evict, the landlord must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in superior court. A Landlord cannot use self help and must evict the tenant; self-help measures such as physically removing or locking out the tenant or cutting off utilities such as water or electricity are prohibited.

Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit

An unlawful detainer lawsuit is much more simplified then your “regular” civil law suits. The court procedure moves forward very quickly, and that the time given to the tenant to respond during the lawsuit is very short. For example, in most cases, the tenant has only five days to file a written response to the lawsuit after being served with a copy of the landlord’s complaint. Normally, a judge will hear and decide the case within 20 days after the tenant files an answer.

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. If the landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, the landlord may be subject to liability for the tenant’s damages and paying a fee.

In an unlawful detainer lawsuit, the court holds a hearing at which the parties can present their evidence and explain their case. If the court finds that the tenant has a good defense, the court will not evict the tenant(Generally, loss of a job, needing additional time or not being able to afford rent are not considered to be valid reasons). However, if a valid reason is provided and the court decides in favor of the tenant, the tenant will not have to move, and the landlord may be ordered to pay court costs (for example, the tenant’s filing fees). The landlord also may have to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees, if the rental agreement contains an attorney’s fee clause and if an attorney represented the tenant.

Writ of Possession

If the court decides in favor of the landlord, the court will issue a writ of possession. The writ of possession instructs the and provide the sheriff the ability to remove the tenant from the rental unit, but gives the tenant five days from the date that the writ is served to leave voluntarily. If the tenant does not leave by the end of the fifth day, the sheriff will physically remove and lock the tenant out, and will give all the belongings remaining in the unit to the Landlord. The landlord is not entitled to possession of the rental unit until after the sheriff has removed the tenant.

The court also may award the landlord any unpaid rent if the eviction is based on the tenant’s failure to pay rent. In addition, the court may provide the landlord with damages such as court costs, attorney fees and any other damage done to the rented complex. In some cases, if the tenant acted maliciously by purposely destroying or damaging the property or not moving out intentionally the court has the discretion to award the landlord up to $600 as a penalty. The judgment against the tenant will be reported on the tenant’s credit report for seven years.

The Uncontested Case = No Court Appearance

In almost 50% of eviction cases the tenant will not respond to the unlawful detainer lawsuit so that the landlord can have a judgment for possession entered by the Court. This makes the process extremely short and a judgment could be obtain within 2 weeks.

We can provide you with a flat rate fee service that will allow you to get an eviction quickly and efficiently without any delays. Our eviction attorneys are top notch and our eviction paralegals are the best in the business. Give us a call to discuss your case.

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