California Code of Civil Procedure 1179a, also known as CCP 1179a, gives precedence to unlawful detainer eviction cases over other civil actions. The exact wording of CCP 1179a states:
In all proceedings brought to recover the possession of real property pursuant to the provisions of this chapter all courts, wherein such actions are or may hereafter be pending, shall give such actions precedence over all other civil actions therein, except actions to which special precedence is given by law, in the matter of the setting the same for hearing or trial, and in hearing the same, to the end that all such actions shall be quickly heard and determined.
In normal language, what this means is that eviction (unlawful detainer) cases receive priority and preference in the courts. Instead of taking a year or more to resolve as many civil cases normally take, as a result of CCP 1179a, an unlawful detainer case can be resolved in 1-3 months on average, even if the defendant/tenant fights the case.
“As part of the general statutory plan to provide for speedy disposition of unlawful detainer actions, the trial thereof is entitled to unqualified preference in trial setting.” Mobil Oil Corp. v. Superior Court (1978, Cal App 2d Dist) 79 Cal App 3d 486.
Court priority in an unlawful detainer case will only occur so long as possession is still in issue. This means, if the defendant/tenant moves out during the pending unlawful detainer case, then, if the plaintiff/landlord wanted to pursue the case, the unlawful detainer action would be converted to a normal civil case and would no longer receive priority on the court’s calendar.
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