After obtaining a default judgment for possession of the property in an unlawful detainer case in California, landlords may wish to attempt to obtain a default judgment for money as well, which may include, for example, the unpaid rent. I discuss default judgments for money in an earlier post, as well as outline the difficulty in actually getting the tenant to pay the landlord, even with a money judgment in place. This article will expand on the discussion of obtaining a money judgment by default against a tenant.
Before going further, it is important to emphasize again that the landlord’s first goal is to obtain possession of the property as quickly as possible. Each day that the tenant remains in the property is more lost rent/income to the landlord. Once the landlord has possession, and assuming the tenant has not responded to the case, the landlord can then try to get a default money judgment by utilizing California Code of Civil Procedure 585(b).
Landlords who want a default money judgment in an unlawful detainer case must provide proof of the claims in a default hearing under CCP 585(b). In proving damages, the landlord needs to establish a “prima facie” case to obtain judgment. The preferred way to go about proving the landlord’s case in these circumstances is through the use of declarations rather than personal testimony. Declarations under this scenario are permitted by CCP 585(d). Declarations are the preferred method because they are usually faster than scheduling a court day.
The following information should be included in the landlord’s declaration:
- The property address
- Date when the notice to quit were served and date when the notice expired
- Date the unlawful detainer complaint was filed
- Date when the complaint was served
- Fact that 5 days have expired since the unlawful detainer was served on the tenant (longer time is required if sub-served or if served by posting and mailing)
- The amount of unpaid rent since the date the tenancy was terminated
- The fair rental value of the tenancy at a daily rate and a calculation of holdover damages
- Any costs incurred in bringing the unlawful detainer action to court
- Any other pertinent or relevant information
- The rental agreement, notice to quit, and proof of service of the notice are normally attached to the declaration
If the landlord has already obtained a default judgment for possession of the property, it may be a good time to get a default judgment for money as well. Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski to assist you in requesting a money judgment under CCP 585(b) and CCP 585(d).
Once you obtain a money judgment against the tenant, it will then be time to try collecting on your unlawful detainer judgment.
The Law Office of David Piotrowski represents landlords throughout southern California and can assist with a tenant eviction.
Read Attorney Piotrowski’s “Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview” book.