What is the next step for landlords/plaintiffs after receiving an unlawful detainer judgment for possession of the property in California?
First off, congratulations on obtaining a judgment for possession of your rental property! This is a big step and you’re almost done with the unlawful detainer eviction process. Once you are awarded judgment for possession of your property, but before you can actually change the locks, there are still a few more steps that you must do in order to actually get possession back.
First, you want to apply for a “Writ of Possession” with the court. Depending on which court your case is located at, there is a good chance that you will need to file both a “Writ Application” and the “Writ of Possession.” These are two separate forms. You will also need to pay a filing fee to to court.
Once the court issues the Writ of Possession, you will need to take the original along with copies and fully completed sheriff instructions to the correct sheriff serving branch, along with the sheriff’s fee to execute on your Writ of Possession. The sheriff will process the Writ of Possession and will post a 5 day notice on the door to the property.
The sheriff will then schedule a date and time for the actual lockout and notify the landlord or the landlord’s attorney. The sheriff will NOT notify the tenant, and the tenant should NOT be informed of the actual date and time of the lockout for safety reasons. The sheriff lockout date will likely NOT be exactly 5 days after the sheriff posts the 5 day notice.
The landlord will meet the sheriff at the property at the designated date and time. It is the landlord’s responsibility to provide access to the property. The sheriff will not force his way in to the property. So, if the landlord does not have a key or believes the tenant may have changed the locks, the landlord should schedule a locksmith to meet at the property at the same time. The sheriff will enter the property and remove any remaining tenants.
Once the sheriff process has been completed, the landlord should immediately change the locks. This is the time when lawful possession returns to the landlord.
There is an additional process needed if the tenant leaves any personal property behind after the lockout takes place. This is the the topic of another blog post.
The Law Office of David Piotrowski has a long history of success in winning eviction trials on behalf of the landlord. If you need help with an eviction in Southern California, contact us today. We represent landlords in eviction cases, and we can help with the Writ of Possession process as well.
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