I have discussed demurrer’s previously, but they have been prevalent lately in eviction cases, so I wanted to use this article to briefly talk about demurrers: what they are, and what you should do as a landlord to respond when a tenant files a demurrer in an eviction case.
A demurrer is a procedure used in the initial stages of an eviction or other legal proceeding to obtain the courts ruling on the formal or legal sufficiency of the allegations in your complaint. For example, a demurrer filed by a tenant may allege that the 3 day notice to pay or quit was defective.
Keep in mind, the tenant’s goal is to prolong and delay the case as long as they can. The landlord’s goal is to regain possession of the property as quickly as possible. With this in mind, a tenant will sometimes file a demurrer, even if is has little to no merits, and set the hearing date on the demurrer for at least a month in the future. In so doing, the tenant just received another month of “free” rent! But landlords have some tools to combat this type of action by a tenant. Landlords can seek to shorten the time for the hearing on the tenant’s demurrer. Instead of waiting a month or longer for the court to rule on the tenant’s demurrer, a landlord who knows what they are doing can have the demurrer heard in as little as a few days. This will save time, not to mention money in lost income from a tenant who isn’t paying any rent. Thus, if a tenant files a demurrer in an unlawful detainer eviction case, and it is clear that it is a delay tactic, landlords may want to take action to shorten the time for the demurrer hearing and request an immediate ruling on the demurrer. Once the court overrules the tenant’s demurrer, tenant’s will generally have only 5 days to file an Answer.
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.