Unlawful detainer continuances of the trial date should be used sparingly by landlords because, as landlord, you want the trial to be speedy with the goal of removing the tenant from the property as quickly as possible. A tenant, on the other hand, often benefits from the unlawful detainer continuance because it allows the tenant to remain at the property longer. For these reasons, generally speaking, landlords should oppose an unlawful detainer continuance of the trial date, while tenants should encourage an unlawful detainer continuance.
Unlawful detainer continuances can happen for various different reasons, including the unavailability of counsel, unavailability of a party, unavailability of a witness, significant change in the status of the case, or surprise in the testimony. If the parties mutually agree to a continuance, generally they can file a stipulation to continue the trial and the court will usually grant it since both parties agree. However, if only one party wants to continue the unlawful detainer while the other party does not wish a delay, then the party wanting the delay will need to file a motion and show good cause for the delay, and then the court will decide whether to continue the unlawful detainer to a future date.
Unavailability of counsel is one ground for an unlawful detainer continuance. However, the court does not have to grant repeated continuances because of attorney availability. If a party is not available for a trial, the case could still technically continue. CCP 594. The party seeking a continuance needs to be able to show why the party is unable to attend the trial. Cal Rules of Ct 3.1332(c)(2). The justified unavailability of a party is good grounds for an unlawful detainer continuance. An unlawful detainer continauce may also be granted if an essential witness is unavailable because of other excusable circumstances. Cal Rules of Ct 3.1332(c)(1). However, the motion for unlawful detainer continuance due to witness unavailability needs to be supported with a declaration showing the materiality of the evidence expected to be obtained, and showing that the party was diligent in attempting to procure it. CCP 595.4. The court may also grant a continuance of the unlawful detainer trial if an amendment to the pleadings renders it necessary.
While there are other reasons for granting an unlawful detainer continuance, the foregoing are some of the more common grounds for allowing the unlawful detainer continuance. Note, however, that the court may deny a last-minute continuance even if the request is jointly made by both the landlord and the tenant.
For further reading, see CRC 3.1322.
What if the landlord opposes the unlawful detainer continuance of trial? CCP 1170.5 is the landlord’s friend in such an instance. Also, a motion of a trial may be conditioned on payment to the other party of the costs incurred by the continuance. CCP 1024.
The Law Office of David Piotrowski can assist landlords with unlawful detainer eviction cases. We work hard to make your case proceed as quickly as possible.