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How do I dismiss an Unlawful Detainer in California | 714-442-9741

How do I dismiss
an Unlawful Detainer in California?

How do I dismiss an unlawful detainer in California: Protect your rights as a tenant with these insights.

Navigate the complexities of California’s unlawful detainer laws and find out how you can skillfully challenge and dismiss an unlawful detainer action using strategic legal approaches.

How do I dismiss an Unlawful Detainer in California?

How do I dismiss an Unlawful Detainer in California?

Eviction: What Tenants Need to Know About Their Rights

Navigating an eviction can be stressful and confusing for tenants. As a renter facing potential eviction, it’s important to understand your legal rights and the steps you can take. This guide breaks down the key things tenants should know about eviction proceedings.

An Overview of Tenant Rights in Evictions

When a landlord starts the eviction process against you, it does not mean you automatically have to move out. You have certain rights that allow you to fight an unlawful eviction in court. Here are some key tenant rights to remember if you are facing eviction:

  • You have the right to receive proper notice from your landlord before they file for eviction. This is usually a 3-day or 30-day notice to pay rent or quit.
  • You can file an answer to contest the eviction lawsuit. This prevents an immediate default judgment.
  • You can ask the court to dismiss a wrongful eviction case if the landlord did not follow proper procedures.
  • You may stay in the rental unit throughout the court process if you file an answer. You do not have to move out unless the court orders it.
  • You can sue your landlord for damages if they use illegal methods, like changing locks or shutting off utilities, to force you out.

Knowing your basic tenant rights prepares you to respond appropriately to eviction papers.


How Tenants Can Get an Eviction Case Dismissed

If a landlord does not comply with California eviction laws, you may be able to get the unlawful detainer case dismissed. Here are some common ways tenants can get an eviction lawsuit dismissed:

  • Incorrect notice – If the landlord’s notice to pay rent or quit was incomplete, had errors, or was not served properly, ask the court to dismiss the case.
  • Preventing the landlord from filing an unlawful detainer: paying the full rent within the notice period or fixing a lease violation prevents the landlord from filing eviction papers with the court.
  • Improper court procedures: Mistakes like the landlord not using the correct court forms can be grounds for dismissal.
  • Landlord discrimination: It is illegal for landlords to evict over discrimination based on protected classes. Inform the court if this is the case.
  • Landlord retaliation: If the eviction is in retaliation for exercising tenant rights, like requesting repairs, the court may dismiss the case.
  • Substandard property conditions: If the rental is uninhabitable, you can ask for dismissal based on the warranty of habitability laws.

Work with a local tenants’ rights organization to build the strongest case possible for dismissal. Having an attorney can also increase your chances of success.

How do I dismiss an Unlawful Detainer in California?

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Asking the Court to Dismiss an Eviction Case

If you have grounds to dismiss the eviction, here is the general process to make that request:

  • File a written response (“answer”) to the landlord’s complaint within 5 days of receiving it. This prevents an automatic default judgment.
  • Make sure to include any defenses or counterclaims for dismissal in your answer. Provide evidence like photos, letters, or rent receipts.
  • Request a trial date from the court within 10–20 days. This gives you time to gather more evidence and prepare.
  • At the trial, argue to the judge why the eviction case should be dismissed based on your defenses. Bring all supporting documentation.
  • If the judge agrees the landlord violated eviction procedures, the case will get dismissed in your favor.

Filing a Motion to Dismiss an Unlawful Detainer

You can also specifically file a motion to dismiss the eviction case for legal reasons. The steps are similar:

  • Draft a legal motion to dismiss, listing all defenses by which the landlord violated eviction laws.
  • File the motion with a request for a court hearing date to decide on the motion.
  • Show up at the hearing with evidence to convince the judge to grant the motion and dismiss the case.
  • If granted, the eviction will be dismissed before going to a full trial.

What Happens When a Tenant Gets an Eviction Case Dismissed?

If your request results in the unlawful detainer getting dismissed, here is what typically happens next:

  • The eviction lawsuit ends, and you, as the tenant, have “won” the case.
  • You are allowed to remain in the rental unit with your existing lease or rental agreement intact.
  • The landlord does not get a court judgment against you for any rent owed or damages.
  • The landlord must start the eviction process completely over if they still want to try to evict you.
  • You can sue the landlord for financial damages related to their wrongful actions, if applicable.
  • The landlord could face penalties for violating tenant protections and eviction laws.

Getting an eviction lawsuit dismissed resets the situation to before the landlord served you with eviction papers. Just make sure to continue paying rent and following your lease to avoid further disputes.

Eviction Process: A Landlord’s Guide to Removing Tenants

As a landlord, you hope to never have to evict a tenant. But sometimes an eviction becomes necessary to resolve serious lease violations or non-payment of rent. If you reach that point, it’s crucial to follow the California eviction laws exactly. Here is an overview of what landlords need to know about starting the eviction process:

When Landlords Have Grounds to File an Eviction Case

You cannot file for eviction at the first sign of trouble with a tenant. California law only allows evictions in specific situations, like:

  • The tenant has unpaid rent and did not pay within the notice period.
  • The tenant violates the lease agreement and does not fix the violation in time.
  • The tenant participates in illegal activity on the premises.
  • You are ending a month-to-month tenancy with proper notice.
  • The tenant stays past the end of a fixed-term lease without permission.
  • You need to reclaim the property for certain reasons allowed by law.

Only once you have valid legal grounds, and after properly terminating the tenancy, can you proceed with starting the eviction lawsuit by filing an unlawful detainer action.

Properly Serving the Tenant with Eviction Papers

To start a formal eviction, you must have the tenant “served” with an unlawful detainer summons and complaint. Here are some serving rules:

  • You cannot serve the papers yourself; you must pay an independent process server.
  • The process server must hand the papers directly to the tenant or to someone over 18 at the rental.
  • If the tenant cannot be found at home, the server can post the papers on the rental entry and mail a copy.
  • The server must fill out and file a Proof of Service document with the court showing they followed proper procedures.

Not properly serving the right papers is one of the most common mistakes landlords make that can undermine the eviction later on.


How do I dismiss an Unlawful Detainer in California?

What Happens After Serving Eviction Papers?

Once served, the tenant has 5 days to file an answer with the court if papers were served directly. If papers were posted at the rental, the tenant has 15 days to respond.

If the tenant does not submit an answer in time, you can file a request for default judgment to evict them.

If they do respond, you must win at trial to get a court order for their removal. The tenant has the right to remain on the property throughout the process until the court orders them to leave.

Going Through the Court Eviction Process

Here are the standard steps for removing a tenant through the court system:

  • Serve proper written notice to the tenant to end the tenancy.
  • After notice expires, file an unlawful detainer complaint with the court.
  • Pay to have eviction papers officially served on the tenant.
  • Request a court date if the tenant contests the eviction.
  • Present your case at trial, proving grounds for eviction exist.
  • If you win at trial, get a Writ of Possession from the court.
  • Schedule the sheriff to monitor the tenant moving out within 5 days.
  • Legally remove the tenant if they do not vacate the property by the deadline.

Having an attorney handle this complex process can help avoid critical mistakes that could sabotage the eviction. But if you pursue it yourself, be sure to learn the required rules and procedures.

The Lease Agreement: Eviction Provisions Tenants Should Know

A legally binding lease agreement provides important protections for both landlords and tenants. As a renter, fully understanding your lease can equip you to enforce your rental rights. Here are key lease clauses renters should understand related to evictions:

Eviction Terms in the Lease

Standard leases include language about grounds for eviction. Look for sections that cover:

  • Non-payment of rent—the notice period before the landlord can file for eviction
  • Lease violations – offensive actions that could prompt eviction.
  • Reasons the landlord can terminate tenancy during the lease period
  • Tenant defenses: reasons tenants can avoid wrongful eviction
  • Notice and service requirements: – proper notice the landlord must provide.

Landlord Responsibilities in Lease Regarding Evictions

In addition to eviction terms, the lease requires the landlord to provide habitable premises. Relevant responsibilities include:

  • Making necessary repairs and dealing with infestations
  • Maintaining electrical, plumbing, appliances, and other fixtures
  • Keeping common areas safe and clean
  • Ensuring the property complies with building codes

You can raise a breach of these as a defense against eviction for unpaid rent.

Tenant Obligations in Lease to Prevent Eviction

Your lease also outlines the tenant’s main obligations. Failing to meet these is grounds for eviction. Key responsibilities are:

  • Paying rent in full and on time according to lease schedule
  • Not using property for illegal or dangerous activities
  • Not damaging the property beyond normal wear and tear
  • Not disturbing neighbors or other tenants with noise or nuisance
  • Allowing landlord reasonable entry to make repairs and inspect
  • Complying with lease renewal terms and moving out promptly when tenancy ends

Violating material lease clauses puts tenants at risk for eviction, so know the duties spelled out in your agreement.

The Unlawful Detainer Court Process

Landlord-tenant disputes around evictions end up in unlawful detainer court in California. These special proceedings have unique rules to provide fast resolution while protecting renters’ rights. Here is what to expect in an unlawful detainee court:

The Unlawful Detainer Complaint

This legal document filed by the landlord kicks off the court eviction process. It will:

  • Name plaintiff (landlord) and defendant (tenant)
  • Provide the rental property address
  • State the legal grounds for eviction under California law
  • Request the court remove the tenant from the premises

The summons sets a short timeline for you, as the tenant, to formally respond.

Filing an Answer to an Eviction Complaint

You have only 5 calendar days to submit a legal Answer after being served the unlawful detainer papers. The Answer:

  • Responds to each point made in landlord’s complaint
  • Lay out any defenses or counterclaims you have
  • Asserts your right to remain in occupancy during the case

Not responding with an answer can result in an immediate default judgment in favor of the landlord.

Going to Trial in an Eviction Case

If you file an answer, the next step is usually an unlawful detainer trial:

  • It occurs within 10–20 days of your Answer
  • The landlord argues why you should be evicted
  • You argue defenses like improper notice or breach of habitability
  • Judge decides if landlord proved legal grounds for your removal

Bring supporting evidence and have witnesses to help prove your side of the case.

Eviction Notices: Proper Documentation Tenants Should Review

Various notices used in the eviction process inform tenants of alleged lease violations and consequences if unresolved. Tenants should carefully review these notices for accuracy.

The Eviction Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

This document starts a non-payment of rent eviction. Check that it:

  • Has correct tenant name and rental address
  • Accurately states amount of rent owed with dates
  • Provides who, where, and when rent must be paid
  • Gives proper 3-day deadline to pay full rent or vacate

Having any errors can potentially invalidate the notice.


How do I dismiss an Unlawful Detainer in California?

Unlawful Detainer Summons and Complaint

These court forms serve you with the eviction lawsuit. Verify it:

  • List names of all tenants being evicted
  • Provide rental address that matches your unit
  • State legal reason for eviction
  • Have proper signature of landlord and court clerk

Other Notices Related to Evictions

The landlord may also send additional notices accusing you of lease violations and demanding you “cure or quit” within 3 days. Review these closely and only correct true breaches of your rental agreement. Invalid notices can halt the eviction process.

Possible Outcomes When an Eviction Case is Dismissed

If a tenant succeeds in getting an eviction dismissed, it brings the dispute back to square one. Here are the general outcomes when an eviction case is dismissed before judgment:

What Happens if a Tenant Wins a Dismissal?

If the tenant convinces the court to dismiss the eviction lawsuit, the tenant remains in the rental unit with the tenancy intact. Any unpaid rent or damages are no longer legally owed per that case. The tenant can continue living in the property or move out at their own discretion.

Options Available to the Landlord After Dismissal

Since the dismissed case did not result in an eviction judgment, the landlord has to restart the entire process to try removing the tenant again. They can correct any procedural mistakes and file a new unlawful detainer lawsuit. But the landlord cannot retaliate or use an improper basis for eviction.

Next Steps if an Eviction Case Gets Dismissed

After a dismissal, tenant and landlord should try to communicate to resolve underlying disputes. Perhaps the tenant can catch up on late rent payments or correct lease violations. Or the landlord may opt not to pursue eviction again.

If their differences seem irreconcilable, the landlord will likely serve new proper notices leading to a renewed court eviction process. Tenants should comply with applicable laws to minimize chances of actual eviction.

General Eviction Information for California Renters

Here are some key resources California tenants dealing with the eviction process should know about for more information on their rights and options:

Overview of California Eviction Laws

Where to Learn About Landlord-Tenant Laws

Getting Advice on Your Eviction Case

  • Consulting with a tenants’ rights attorney
  • Calling local Bar Association for lawyer referrals
  • Requesting free or low-cost legal help if eligible
  • Contacting tenant resource centers for assistance

Staying informed on eviction laws, your lease terms, and legal options gives you the best ability to defend against wrongful evictions. Don’t hesitate to seek help from professionals focused on protecting renters’ rights. With the right approach, you can get an unlawful eviction stopped and remain in your home.


Evicting a Tenant: A Landlord’s Guide to the California Eviction Process

Evicting a problem tenant is often necessary for landlords to protect their rental property and business. But removing a tenant in California requires meticulously following proper legal procedures. Here is a practical overview for landlords on legally evicting a tenant under state laws.

When Landlords Have Grounds to Start the Eviction Process

You cannot pursue eviction just because you do not like a tenant. Valid reasons under California law include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Lease agreement violations
  • Damage to the property
  • Illegal activity on the premises
  • Refusal to allow lawful entry
  • Necessity to recover property for certain allowed purposes

Carefully document the tenant’s actions or violations forming the basis for eviction. Consult an attorney if unsure you have sufficient legal grounds.

Serving the Tenant with the Eviction Lawsuit Papers

To formally evict a tenant, you must properly serve them with an Unlawful Detainer Summons and Complaint. Rules include:

  • You cannot serve the papers yourself—hire a registered process server.
  • Papers are ideally handed directly to the tenant or adult member of their household.
  • If the tenant can’t be found at home, papers can be posted on the property and mailed.
  • Service must be completed fully and accurately, or the eviction can be derailed later.

Keep the signed Proof of Service form from the process server to submit to the court, showing compliance with procedures.

The Tenant’s Response After Being Served Eviction Papers

Once served with the court papers, the tenant has options:

  • Not respond – Default judgment awarding property to landlord.
  • File an Answer within 5 days contesting the eviction to force a trial.
  • Move out immediately – Voluntary compliance without a court order.

You cannot take possession until tenant vacates or you win in court.

Overview of the Court Eviction Steps

If the tenant contests the eviction, you must complete the court process to regain the property. Major steps are:

  • File and serve Summons and Complaint starting lawsuit
  • Tenant files Answer within 5 days or you get default judgment
  • Court holds trial within 20 days if contested
  • Judge rules if you proved grounds for tenant’s removal
  • Obtain Writ of Possession if you win at trial
  • Schedule sheriff to supervise tenant vacating property
  • Legally remove tenant if they do not move out by deadline

Hiring an eviction attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system. But document everything thoroughly yourself.

Preparing Documentation to Prove Grounds for Eviction

To win at trial, you need compelling evidence justifying the tenant’s removal. Helpful documentation can include:

  • Rent payment ledger showing nonpayment
  • Letters to tenant regarding lease violations
  • Photographs of property damage
  • Police reports of disturbance incidents
  • Written statements from neighbors about problems
  • Any other records or proof related to eviction grounds

Bring at least three copies of evidence to trial – one for you, one for the judge, and one for the tenant.

Serving the Unlawful Detainer Papers on a Tenant

A critical step in the California eviction process is formally serving tenants with the unlawful detainer summons and complaint. Follow proper service procedures or risk the eviction getting overturned later for a procedural defect.

Who Can Serve Eviction Papers on a Tenant?

You as the landlord cannot serve the papers yourself—it must be a third party not involved in the case. Options include:

  • The county sheriff’s department civil division
  • A registered professional process server
  • An adult friend or family member not living with you
  • A constable or marshal authorized to do service

Many landlords hire a professional process server to ensure service is done properly.

How to Serve Eviction Papers on Tenants

Ideally, the server hands the unlawful detainer papers directly to the tenant or other adult living at the property. If the tenant is not home, papers can be:

  • Left with another adult member at the residence, followed by mailing a copy to the tenant.
  • Posted on the property entry and mailed if unable to find any adults at home.
  • Tenants served using these “substitute service” techniques have 15 days rather than 5 to respond.

Get the server’s signed Proof of Service form showing compliance with the rules. Submit this to the court when filing the eviction case.

What Comes After Serving the Tenant Eviction Papers

Once served, the tenant has limited time to respond appropriately to the summons and complaint:

  • Tenant can file an Answer within 5-15 days contesting the eviction and forcing a court trial.
  • Tenant can voluntarily vacate by the deadline avoiding involvement of the courts.
  • If no response, you can seek a default judgment to take possession without a trial.

You still cannot remove the tenant or their belongings until legally authorized by a court judgment. Patience is key during this procedural phase.

Fighting an Eviction Case: Tenant Defenses that Can Lead to Dismissal

Tenants facing eviction have legal defenses that could get the unlawful detainer case thrown out if properly presented. Here are tenant defenses landlords should be aware of that could risk dismissal:

Improper Notice to the Tenant

Tenants often succeed in dismissals by showing:

  • The notice did not provide proper timelines
  • It lacked statutorily required content
  • It had incorrect facts, like amount owed
  • It was not served to tenant appropriately

Any material defect in the notice can invalidate subsequent eviction proceedings.

Rental Property is Uninhabitable

Tenants may argue:

  • Premises are unsafe or unhealthy
  • Landlord failed to make necessary repairs
  • Significant housing code violations exist

If property is unlivable, tenant can’t be evicted for not paying rent.

Landlord Retaliation

If landlord is evicting tenant for:

  • Reporting health code violations
  • Organizing other tenants
  • Threatening a lawsuit against the landlord

The court may deem the case impermissible retaliation.

Discrimination by Landlord

Tenants may claim:

  • Eviction is based on racial prejudice, sexual orientation bias, or other discrimination
  • Landlord has history of discriminatory practices
  • Comments or actions show illegal animus

These arguments can cast doubt on the landlord’s motives.

Other Tenant Defenses

  • Unauthorized entry by landlord
  • Tenant cured issue within notice timeframe
  • Failure to maintain promised amenities
  • Tenant entitled to disability accommodation

Landlords should proactively address potential defenses tenants may raise when arguing for eviction. Knowing weaknesses that could lead to dismissal allows strengthening the case.

The Eviction Trial: Presenting a Winning Case to the Judge

If a landlord’s eviction case goes to trial because the tenant contests it, presenting a compelling argument is crucial. Follow these tips to prove your case before the judge:

Provide Clear Documentation Justifying Eviction

Bring documents like:

  • Lease agreement showing violations
  • Ledger of unpaid rent dates and amounts
  • Inspection reports detailing property damage
  • Police incident reports of disturbance
  • Photos clearly documenting issues

Present Witness Testimony Backing Up Claims

Witnesses like:

  • Employees detailing lease agreement breaches
  • Neighbors recounting problems caused
  • Contractors assessing damage to premises
  • Officers responding to incidents

Can corroborate your assertions under oath.

Anticipate and Refute Potential Tenant Defenses

  • Pre-emptively counter predictable claims about improper notice, retaliation, discrimination, etc.
  • Have evidence ready disputing their defenses like proper notice paperwork.
  • Discredit tenant testimony through cross-examination.

Keep Arguments Succinct and Persuasive

  • Clearly reiterate the lease violations or deficiencies forming the grounds for eviction.
  • Link evidence directly to elements that must be proven.
  • Close by emphasizing urgency of removal for business and community.

Judges understand landlords want tenancy ended. Make it easy to rule in your favor.

Tenant Property Left After Eviction: How Landlords Must Proceed

Following a legal eviction, the tenant sometimes leaves personal property behind at the rental. California law governs how landlords must handle the abandoned possessions.

Notifying Former Tenants About Leftover Property

You must make reasonable efforts to contact the evicted tenant about retrieving their possessions.

  • Mail notice to tenant’s new or forwarding address
  • Post notice on the vacated rental property

The notice should provide 15-18 days to reclaim items before disposal.

Storing Abandoned Possessions

Keep unclaimed tenant belongings in a safe, secure place after regaining possession of the unit.

Options include:

  • At the property if space permits
  • In offsite storage like Public Storage
  • With a third party custodian

You can charge actual moving and storage costs to the tenant.

Disposing of Unclaimed Property

If tenant does not reclaim items after proper notice:

  • Sell at public auction
  • Donate to charity
  • Discard as waste if valueless

Maintain records demonstrating you followed notice requirements before asset disposal.

Potential Tenant Challenges

Tenants could later sue if you:

  • Failed to properly notify them
  • Disposed of valuable property
  • Did not store items safely leading to damage

Strictly adhere to rules to avoid claims of illegally confiscating their possessions.

Following California’s procedures for handling tenant property after evictions minimizes potential liability. Consult an attorney if notices are undelivered or property is exceptionally valuable.

The Rental Lease Agreement: Key Clauses Tenants Should Understand

The lease agreement between a landlord and tenant establishes the contractual relationship for the rental property. Tenants should fully understand their rights and obligations under the lease, especially related to evictions. Here are key lease clauses renters should know.

Eviction Provisions in the Lease

Typical residential leases have language about tenant actions that could prompt eviction, such as:

  • Nonpayment of rent – When overdue and landlord can file notice
  • Lease violations – Offensive, illegal, or dangerous acts
  • Reasons for lease termination – Allowed reasons landlord can end tenancy early
  • Tenant defenses – Circumstances where tenant can contest eviction
  • Notice requirements – Types of notice landlord must provide before filing eviction

Review these sections carefully so you understand events that could lead to eviction.

Landlord Responsibilities Relevant to Evictions

In addition to eviction terms, the lease requires the landlord provide habitable premises. Relevant landlord duties include:

  • Making necessary repairs of defects – Appliances, fixtures, utilities, etc.
  • Exterminating insect or rodent infestations
  • Maintaining common areas in clean, safe condition
  • Ensuring rental meets state and local housing code standards

You can use evidence of uninhabitable conditions to contest eviction for unpaid rent.

Tenant Obligations to Avoid Eviction

The lease also outlines tenant responsibilities. Violating these constitutes breach and grounds for eviction. Key obligations are:

  • Paying rent fully and on the scheduled due date
  • Not using property for illegal activities
  • Not damaging premises beyond normal wear and tear
  • Not disturbing neighbors with excessive noise, parties, etc.
  • Allowing landlord reasonable access for repairs and inspections
  • Complying with lease renewal terms and vacating properly when tenancy ends

Know what your lease requires and avoid breaches that could risk eviction.

California Eviction Notices Landlords Must Use

California landlords must use specific notices when starting the eviction process. Using improper or incomplete notices can derail an eviction case.

The Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

This demands payment of outstanding rent or vacating the unit. It must:

  • List all tenant names
  • State total rent owed and timeframe
  • Provide who, when, where to pay exactly
  • Give tenant 3 calendar days to pay in full or move out

Even small errors like listing an incorrect amount owed can invalidate the notice.

Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit

This gives the tenant 3 days to fix a curable lease violation or move out. The notice:

  • Describes their substantial breach of lease terms
  • Cites relevant lease clauses being violated
  • Demands they rectify the issue or vacate within 3 days

Tenant can avoid eviction by fixing violation in time allotted.

Notice to Quit

For serious lease breaches, this gives tenants only 3 days to move out, without option to fix their violation. Lawful uses include:

  • Destruction of property
  • Illegal activity on premises
  • Assignment/sublet of rental

Strictly follow notice content and service rules or tenant can challenge in court.

Other Notices Related to Eviction

Before starting unlawful detainer, landlords may give Tenancy Termination Notices ending the periodic tenancy itself in 30 or 60 days.

Illegal Actions: What Landlords Cannot Do When Evicting Tenants

Landlords understandably want non-paying or problematic tenants removed quickly. However, they must use proper legal procedures for evictions. Here are illegal actions landlords should avoid:

Locking Out Tenants

Landlords cannot:

  • Change locks to keep tenants out
  • Remove doors or windows tenants use
  • Alter utility access like shutting off power

These “self-help” lockouts are illegal without court order.

Seizing Tenant Property

Landlords cannot:

  • Remove a tenant’s belongings
  • Keep possessions left after move-out
  • Sell or dispose of items prematurely

Tenants can sue for illegal confiscation.

Using Physical Force

Landlords cannot:

  • Drag tenants out physically
  • Remove doors with tenants still inside
  • Cut power/heat to force tenants out

These acts often constitute illegal assaults.

Harassment Tactics

Landlords cannot:

  • Use verbal threats against tenants
  • Call immigration authorities as retaliation
  • Remove children’s toys or tenant artwork

Harassment violates state housing laws.

Renting to New Tenants

Landlords cannot:

  • List and rent unit before vacancy
  • Allow new tenants to move in early

These undermine possession rights.

Illegal lockouts and seizures can result in substantial civil penalties or even criminal charges against landlords. Evict lawfully.

Tenant FAQ: Common California Eviction Questions

Tenants often have questions when first receiving eviction notices from their landlord. Here are common California eviction questions and answers every tenant should know.

Can my landlord evict me without a reason?

  • No, evictions require valid “just cause” under California law, like not paying rent or violation of lease terms.

What should I do if I get a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent?

  • Either pay the full rent due immediately or vacate before the notice expires in 3 calendar days. If you do neither, the landlord can file for eviction in court.

Can I negotiate partial rent payment with the landlord?

  • The landlord is not required to accept partial rent payment. Partial payment resets the clock for a new 3-day notice period to pay the remaining balance.

How much time do I have to respond to eviction papers?

  • You have 5 calendar days to submit a legal Answer with the court after getting served an unlawful detainer lawsuit. If served by posting on rental, you have 15 days.

Can I just move out when I get eviction notices?

  • You are not required to move out when you receive a notice from the landlord. You only have to vacate if the landlord wins a court judgment.

What happens if I ignore eviction notices and court papers?

  • The landlord will get an immediate default judgment to remove you. Not responding means you forfeit all defenses and rights.

Where can I get help with my eviction case?

  • Contact local tenant resources, eviction defense nonprofits, or legal aid organizations. Consult housing rights attorneys.

Know your rights and exercise them fully. With proper legal advice and an organized defense, many evictions can be successfully fought.

The Unlawful Detainer Process: A Guide to Eviction Court Proceedings

Landlord-tenant disputes around evictions in California go through special unlawful detainer courts. Understanding the unique procedures and documents involved prepares both parties. Here is an overview of what transpires in eviction cases.

Unlawful Detainer Complaint and Summons

This legal document filed and served by the landlord initiates the court eviction process. Key components include:

  • Names of the landlord plaintiff and tenant defendant
  • Address of the rental property
  • Allegations of legal grounds for eviction
  • Request for tenant removal from premises

The accompanying summons commands the tenant to respond within 5 days or lose by default.

Tenant Response Options to Eviction Lawsuit

Tenants have limited time to respond appropriately after served with the court papers:

  • File a written Answer contesting allegations within 5 days (or 15 days if served by posting on rental).
  • Seek legal counsel and gather evidence supporting any defenses.
  • Voluntarily vacate by the deadline if unable to fight the eviction.
  • Default by not responding results in immediate tenant removal order.

The Unlawful Detainer Trial

If the tenant contests the eviction, the next step is usually a court trial within 10-20 days:

  • Landlord argues why tenant should be evicted based on evidence.
  • Tenant argues any defenses, like improper notice or breach of habitability.
  • Judge decides if landlord proved legal grounds for tenant’s removal.

Court Judgment and Removal from Property

If the landlord wins at trial, the court enters a judgment of possession along with:

  • Issuance of writ of possession
  • Scheduling law enforcement to supervise tenant vacating property
  • Removal of tenant by sheriff if they do not vacate by deadline

The entire unlawful detainer process moves quickly, usually lasting 30-45 days.

What Happens When a Tenant Wins a Dismissal of Eviction?

If a tenant succeeds in getting an eviction case dismissed before final judgment, the situation essentially resets. Here are the general outcomes when an eviction case is dismissed:

  • The eviction lawsuit ends immediately upon dismissal.
  • The tenant remains in lawful possession of the rental unit.
  • Any alleged unpaid rent or other tenant liabilities are erased.
  • The landlord must start the entire termination and eviction process over.
  • The tenant may recover financial damages if wrongfully evicted.
  • The landlord could face penalties for violating tenant protections.

A dismissal sends the dispute back to square one, but does not itself resolve the underlying issues leading to the eviction filing.

Options After Eviction Dismissal for California Landlords

When an eviction case gets dismissed before judgment, the landlord still retains certain options:

  • Correct any procedural defects and re-serve the tenant an updated lawful notice.
  • Allow the tenant to voluntarily vacate after dismissal.
  • Negotiate a cash-for-keys arrangement for the tenant to move.
  • If grounds still exist, file a brand new unlawful detainer lawsuit.
  • Pursue money damages against tenant in small claims or civil court.
  • Wait out the remainder of fixed-term lease if tenant stays.

However, landlords cannot resort to illegal lockouts, seizure of property, or other harassment tactics following a dismissal.

Next Steps for Tenant and Landlord After Eviction Dismissal

Once a case is dismissed, both parties should re-assess their positions and seek to resolve underlying disputes. Next steps may include:

  • Tenant pays overdue rent or corrects lease violation issues.
  • Landlord addresses habitability issues if raised as defense.
  • Parties negotiate termination agreement or new lease terms.
  • Landlord provides proper new notices before re-filing eviction.
  • Tenant prepares stronger defenses for potential renewed case.
  • Parties agree tenant will vacate by a certain date.

Ideally, dismissal leads to reconciliation and parties avoiding further court proceedings. But either could re-initiate lawful eviction process.