Basic Eviction Overview and Outline for California Unlawful Detainers


The general process and overview of a California unlawful detainer (eviction) case is as follows:

  1. Prepare and serve a termination notice on the tenant (for example, a 3 day, 30 day, or 60 day notice of termination)
  2. Prepare, file and serve the unlawful detainer summons, complaint, and supporting documents on the tenant
  3. Serve a “prejudgment claim of right to possession” on all unnamed occupants per California Code of Civil Procedure 415.46
  4. Wait the required time period to see if the tenant responds. If the tenant does not respond, request a default and judgment. If the tenant responds, proceed to the next step. The most common tenant response is the filing of an Answer (the tenant could also file a demurrer, motion to strike, or another document)
  5. If the tenant filed an Answer, the next step for the landlord is to file a request for trial and wait for a trial date
  6. Attend the trial and present your case
  7. Assuming the landlord wins the case, apply for a Writ of Possession with the court
  8. Once the Writ of Possession is issued by the court, submit the original Writ, along with sheriff instructions, to the correct sheriff branch
  9. Wait for the sheriff to schedule the lockout. Plan to meet the sheriff at the rental unit at the designated date and time to regain possession of the property and change the locks

These general rules do not apply in all cases, and there are additional and different steps that apply in some cases. Landlords should consult with their attorney to determine the proper steps for their individual unlawful detainer eviction case in California.

Read David Piotrowski’s “Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview” book. If you need help with an eviction, contact us today. We only represent landlords in eviction cases. Also, be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to helping you. We offer a free consultation for landlords on most cases.

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