Default Judgment in a California Unlawful Detainer Eviction


David PiotrowskiDefault judgments can be obtained from the court when the tenant fails to appear or respond to an eviction case. Default judgments in evictions can be broken down into two categories. 1) Default judgments regarding possession of the property. 2) Default judgments regarding monetary awards.

Once a tenant has failed to appear or respond to the eviction case within the required number of days, a landlord can get a default judgment for possession of the property directly from the clerk at the court. Getting a default judgment for money, however, requires an order from the court, not the clerk.

Therefore, a landlord best practice is to first get a default judgment from the clerk for possession, then later, if the landlord wants to try and collect money, go to the court for a default judgment for money.  Keep in mind, in a majority of eviction cases, the landlord is not able to collect on a money judgment.

Another landlord best practice is to file the request for default immediately when the tenant’s period to respond/answer has elapsed. For example, if a landlord can file a request for default on day 6, but waits until day 10, and assuming the tenant came in and filed a response with the court on day 8, then landlord’s request for default will be rejected. Therefore, even though the landlord could have gotten a default judgment on the eviction if he filed in a timely manner, the default will be rejected if the tenant comes in and files a responsive pleading before the landlord files his request for default judgment in the eviction.

The Law Office of David Piotrowski represents landlords throughout southern California and can assist with a tenant eviction.

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