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Unlawful Detainer Attorneys in California | 714-442-9741

Unlawful Detainer Attorneys
in California

Why You Need an Unlawful Detainer Attorneys in California

You may risk your case without legal assistance from a California Unlawful Detainer Attorney. Landlords and renters should contact an attorney about their rights and dispute resolution choices.

Unlawful Detainer Attorneys in California

What is Unlawful Detainer?

A legal case brought by a landlord to evict a tenant from rental property or regain possession is known as an unlawful detainer. It can occur if a tenant fails to pay rent, violates the lease agreement, stays past the lease term, or commits other breaches.

Landlords must follow specific steps and procedures to start an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Tenants who lose an unlawful detainer case will likely have to move out within a few days. That’s why working with an unlawful detainer attorney is so important. They understand the nuances of eviction law and can help protect your rights.

Why You Need an Unlawful Detainer Attorneys in California

Navigating unlawful detainer cases requires extensive knowledge of California eviction statutes and civil procedure. An experienced unlawful detainer attorney can provide legal counsel at every stage, including:

  • Reviewing notices to quit, complaints, and other documents
  • Drafting legally valid responses and filings
  • Gathering evidence and formulating defense strategies
  • Representing you in court hearings and settlement conferences
  • Negotiating agreements or payment plans if necessary


The Legal Process of Unlawful Detainer

If a landlord starts an unlawful detainer lawsuit, here is the typical sequence of events:

  • Notice to Pay Rent or Quit – The landlord serves you a notice giving you 3 days to pay overdue rent or fix a lease violation.
  • Summons and Complaint – If you do not comply, the landlord can file and serve you with a summons and an unlawful detainer complaint.
  • Written Response – You must submit a written response within 5 days of receiving the summons and complaint. An unlawful detainer defense attorney can help craft your response.
  • Trial – If you contest the eviction, the case will go to trial within 20 days. Your unlawful detainer lawyer can represent you and raise defenses.
  • Judgment and Lockout – If the court rules in the landlord’s favor, you will have only 5 days to appeal or move out before sheriff’s lockout.

Having an experienced Unlawful Detainer Attorneys in California by your side ensures a full understanding of each step and deadline.

Tenant Rights in Unlawful Detainer Cases

During an unlawful detainer lawsuit, tenants still retain certain rights, such as the right to:

  • Receive full notice and service of process
  • Request a jury trial
  • Present defenses and evidence
  • Appeal an adverse decision
  • Request relief from forfeiture


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Common Defenses in Unlawful Detainer Cases

Some of the defenses an unlawful detainer defense attorney may use include:

  • Improper notice – The landlord did not properly serve the notice or give requisite time to comply.
  • Breach of warranty of habitability – The unit had defects like mold, no hot water, etc.
  • Landlord retaliation – The eviction is retaliation for asserting legal rights.
  • Discrimination – The eviction improperly discriminates against protected classes.
  • Payment already made: Rent listed as unpaid was already paid.
  • Lease allows nonpayment: The lease specifically allows late payment of rent.
  • Unauthorized subtenant eviction: The master tenant, not the landlord, must carry out subtenant eviction.

An experienced Unlawful Detainer Attorney in California will know which defenses apply to your specific situation.

Costs and Attorney Fees of an Unlawful Detainer Lawyer

Hiring an unlawful detainer attorney typically costs $2,000–$5,000, depending on the complexity of your case. However, the judge may order the losing party to pay the winning party’s attorney fees for unlawful detention in California.

Tenants who receive government aid can sometimes request that their assistance program cover attorney costs. Look for unlawful detainer attorneys who offer consultations and flexible payment plans.

How to Choose the Right Unlawful Detainer Attorney

Follow these tips to find the best unlawful detainer attorney near me:

  • Search state bar directories specifically for lawyers specializing in landlord-tenant law.
  • Look for attorneys experienced in your local county laws and courts.
  • Read reviews and evaluate an attorney’s track record with unlawful detainee cases.
  • Schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options.
  • Choose someone who explains things clearly and makes you feel comfortable.
  • Look for reasonable rates and contingent fees based on outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Unlawful Detainer Attorneys

How much does an unlawful detainer attorney cost in California?

Typical fees range from $2,000 – $5,000, depending on your location and the case’s complexity. 

What can an unlawful detainer lawyer do for me?

They can advise you on your legal options, represent you in settlement talks and hearings, present defenses, negotiate agreements, and help minimize penalties.

When should I hire an unlawful detainer attorney?

You should speak with one as soon as possible after receiving eviction notices or a summons. Timing is critical in unlawful detainee cases.

What if I cannot afford an attorney?

If you have very limited income, contact legal aid organizations that may offer pro bono or low-cost representation.

Can I represent myself in an unlawful detainer case?

Yes, but it is extremely risky without an attorney’s expertise. Lack of legal knowledge could jeopardize your case.

Going through an unlawful detainee lawsuit is stressful. Let an experienced unlawful detainer attorney help guide you through the complex legal process and protect your rights. If you are facing eviction or property possession disputes in California, consult a qualified lawyer right away to discuss your best path forward. With the right legal advice, you can achieve the most favorable outcome possible.

Secrets of Unlawful Detainers: What You Need to Know

Unlawful detainers, also known as evictions, can be complicated legal proceedings with major consequences for landlords and tenants. This article provides key information you need to know about the unlawful detainer process.

The Notice Requirements

Before a landlord can file an unlawful detainer, they must properly serve the tenant with a notice to quit. This notice gives tenants a chance to either fix the issue (like paying late rent) or move out before the eviction process starts.

  • Notices must be served in a specific way, such as posted on the property or sent via certified mail. An improper notice could get the eviction dismissed.
  • The notice must provide the legally required amount of time for the tenant to respond, typically 3, 5, or 30 days, depending on the reason for eviction.
  • If the tenant fixes the issue within the notice period, the landlord cannot proceed with the unlawful detention.

The Summons and Complaint

If the tenant does not comply with the notice, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer lawsuit by submitting a summons and complaint.

  • The summons orders the tenant to respond to the lawsuit within 5 days or risk losing by default.
  • The complaint explains why the landlord believes they have grounds for eviction and the remedy they are seeking.
  • The tenant must be properly served with the summons and complaint for the eviction case to legally proceed.
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The Tenant’s Response

Once served with the summons and complaint, the tenant has 5 days to respond in writing.

  • If they do nothing, the landlord will get a default judgment for possession of the property.
  • The tenant can fight the unlawful detainer by filing an answer explaining why they believe the landlord is not entitled to evict them.
  • Tenants should carefully follow all requirements for answering or risk having their case dismissed.

The Unlawful Detainer Hearing

If the tenant files an answer, there will be a court hearing where both sides present evidence and arguments.

  • Landlords must prove the tenant breached the lease or rental agreement and the notice requirements were properly met.
  • Tenants can argue against the eviction if there are legal problems with the landlord’s case.
  • If the issues are simple, the judge may issue a decision at the hearing. More complex cases may require another hearing.

The Judgment and Eviction

If the landlord wins at the hearing, the judge will issue a writ of possession, giving the sheriff the authority to evict the tenant.

  • Tenants typically have only 5 days to appeal the decision or move out before the sheriff enforces the eviction.
  • If the tenant does not leave, the sheriff will forcibly remove them from the property and return possession to the landlord.
  • A judgment for eviction can make it very difficult for the tenant to find housing in the future.

Understanding the unlawful detainer process is essential for both landlords and tenants facing potential eviction. Following proper procedures can help ensure fair proceedings and just results. This overview provides the key details you need to know to protect your rights.

Unlawful Detainer Actions Under the Tenant Protection Act: What Landlords Must Know

California’s Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (TPA) introduced new requirements for landlords seeking to evict tenants via unlawful detainer lawsuits. Landlords who fail to strictly comply with the TPA’s provisions risk having their cases dismissed. This article highlights key information landlords need to know about navigating unlawful detainers under the TPA.

Just Cause Required

The TPA prohibits landlords from evicting tenants without “just cause.”

  • Tenants can only be evicted for specified reasons, like nonpayment of rent or breach of the lease.
  • Landlords must state the just cause reason in the notice to quit and unlawful detainer complaint.
  • Pursuing an eviction without identifying the lawful justification will result in dismissal.

Heightened Notice Requirements

Before filing an unlawful detainer, landlords must serve tenants with enhanced notices to quit.

  • Notices must specifically state the just cause for the eviction.
  • Different reasons require different notice periods, ranging from 3 to 30 days.
  • Any errors in the notice—like missing info or incorrect timing—can invalidate the eviction case.
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Mandatory Relocation Assistance

If landlords evict for no-fault reasons, they must pay tenants relocation assistance equal to one month’s rent.

  • It applies to evictions like owner move-ins and demolitions where the tenant did not violate the lease.
  • Relocation fees are not required for at-fault causes like nonpayment of rent.
  • Failure to provide the relocation aid can overturn the eviction.

Limits on Multiple Eviction Notices

The TPA limits how often landlords can serve tenants with notices to quit:

  • Landlords cannot give tenants more than three notices to quit within 12 months.
  • Exceptions exist for at-fault causes like lease violations.
  • Courts will dismiss cases exceeding this notice cap.

Closely adhering to the TPA’s requirements is essential for landlords to successfully evict tenants through unlawful detainer actions. Mistakes can lead to dismissal and delays. Understanding these key provisions will help landlords swiftly remove tenants with a just cause.

The Timeline of California Evictions in 2023: What to Expect

California eviction delays have been a major landlord headache, with unlawful detainer cases often taking months to resolve. For landlords considering evictions in 2023, it’s essential to understand the current expected timelines. This overview examines how long evictions are realistically taking in California this year.

Pre-Filing Notice Periods

Before a landlord can file an unlawful detainer, they must properly serve tenants with a notice to quit. This adds to the total eviction timeline.

  • Most notices must provide tenants with 3, 5, or 30 days to respond before eviction proceedings can start.
  • Quit notices slow down the front end of the eviction process.
  • In 2023, expect 1-30 days of delay from notice requirements.

Backlogged Courts Slow Filings

After giving notice, landlords must file their unlawful detainer cases in court, but backlogs are slowing down case filing.

  • Courts face massive backlogs and staffing shortages, delaying the applicant screening and filing process.
  • Plaintiffs are reporting 2-4-week delays just to get cases initially filed and scheduled.
  • Count on at least a few weeks of delays for unlawful detainers to get a court date.

Tenant Lawsuits to Delay Hearings

With an unlawful detainer filed, tenants often file their own lawsuits to trigger delays:

  • Tenants can file counterclaims against the landlord alleging harassment or discrimination.
  • This automatically delays the eviction hearing, sometimes for months.
  • Expect multiple months of delay if a tenant files their own lawsuit.

Backlogged Trial Dates

Once scheduled, trial dates for evictions are backed up at least 2-4 months in most counties:

  • Urban coastal counties like Los Angeles and San Francisco face some of the longest court backlogs.
  • Some rural counties have delays of 1-2 months just to get a court hearing.
  • Bank on at least a 2 month wait once a case is filed, often significantly longer.

For California landlords, evictions in 2023 require preparing for a long waiting game—from filing delays to court backlogs, expect an eviction to take 4-8 months in many counties. Understanding these timeframes is essential for navigating the slow-moving eviction process.

Is Forcible Entry and Detainer an Eviction in 2023? What Landlords Must Know

Forcible entry and detainer (FED) is a legal process that landlords can use to regain possession of their property in some states. In 2023, there is confusion around whether FED actions count as evictions. This article clears up when FED is considered eviction, and how it differs from unlawful detainers.

FED as an Alternative Eviction Process

In some states, landlords can use FED lawsuits as an alternative way to evict nonpaying tenants instead of unlawful detainers.

  • Like unlawful detainers, FEDs allow landlords to evict tenants for lease violations.
  • The processes differ in procedure—FEDs are often seen as faster and less tenant friendly.
  • Where allowed, FEDs are a form of eviction that doesn’t require unlawful detainer procedures.

State Laws Determine FED Status

Whether FED counts as eviction ultimately depends on each state’s specific landlord-tenant laws.

  • Some states classify FEDs as evictions subject to the same tenant protections as unlawful detainers.
  • Others exempt FEDs from eviction restrictions, allowing a more landlord-friendly process.
  • Landlords must follow their state’s laws on when FEDs can be used and requirements that apply.

California Bans FED Evictions

In California, FEDs are not permitted as a means of eviction under state law.

  • California only allows formal evictions through the unlawful detainer process.
  • FEDs cannot legally be used to circumvent California’s strict eviction laws and procedures.
  • The only way for California landlords to formally evict is by filing an unlawful detainer case.

The bottom line—in California, FED is not considered a valid eviction process in 2023 or anytime. Landlords can only legally remove tenants after prevailing in an unlawful detainer lawsuit. Understanding state laws on FED versus unlawful detainers is crucial.

Uncontested Unlawful Detainer What Tenants Need to Know

Getting served with an unlawful detainer lawsuit can be scary for tenants. Many may be tempted not to respond, but this has serious consequences. Here’s what tenants should know about uncontested evictions.

It Means Automatic Loss

If a tenant is served an unlawful detainer summons and complaint but does not file a written response, the landlord automatically wins the case by default.

  • No response means no hearing, evidence, or ability to defend against the eviction.
  • The court will immediately grant the landlord a judgment for possession without hearing the tenant’s side.
  • Contesting the case is a tenant’s only chance to potentially stop the eviction.

Fast Eviction Timeline

When a landlord wins by default, the eviction moves forward very quickly, within a couple weeks.

  • 5 days after no response, the landlord can ask the court for a default judgment and writ of possession.
  • Sheriffs serve the writ, giving tenants only 5 calendar days to move before lockout.
  • Not contesting means going from normal tenant to being evicted within 2-3 weeks.

Severe Disadvantages

An uncontested eviction leaves the tenant with a poor rental history and record that makes re-renting very difficult.

  • Tenants lose the ability to negotiate more time, relocation help, or remove the case from records.
  • Default judgments show up on tenant screening reports, labeling them as failures to pay rent.
  • It makes finding new housing challenging when landlords review records.

Contesting unlawful detainers is essential, even in difficult cases. Avoid defaults to maximize options. 

Navigating the Legal Process of Unlawful Detainers

Unlawful detainers, commonly called evictions, follow a highly technical legal process. Tenants facing eviction need to understand these step-by-step procedures that landlords must strictly adhere to. This overview examines the key stages of an unlawful detainer action in California.

Serving Notices to Quit

The first step for every unlawful detainer is the landlord to serve a notice to quit, giving tenants notice to vacate.

  • Specifies why the landlord is ending the tenancy, like a lease violation.
  • Provides timeline for tenant to fix issue or leave, usually 3, 5, or 30 days.
  • If tenant complies, the process stops. If not, landlord files lawsuit.

Filing of Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit

If the tenant fails to comply with the notice, the landlord can file a summons and a complaint for unlawful detainer.

  • Summons orders tenant to respond within 5 days to avoid default.
  • The complaint lays out facts and legal basis for the eviction.
  • Filing starts the clock for tenant’s written response.

Tenant’s Written Response

To contest eviction, tenant must file a written response with the court within 5 days of being served.

  • An answer admits or denies allegations and lays out defenses.
  • Contesting forces a hearing – failing to respond results in default loss.
  • The response also asserts any counterclaims against the landlord.

Court Hearing and Judgment

Disputed unlawful detainees will have a court hearing where the judge hears arguments and evidence.

  • Landlord has burden of proving right to evict tenant under the law.
  • Judge decides winner and enters judgment, issuing writ of possession if landlord prevails.
  • The losing tenant has only 5 days to appeal before vacating.

Closely following the unlawful detainer process is key for tenants facing eviction. Knowing the step-by-step procedures and requirements levels the playing field.

Fighting Unlawful Evictions in California with a Tenant Rights Attorney

Renting an apartment or commercial property in California comes with certain rights and protections for tenants. However, some landlords still attempt illegal evictions, known as “unlawful detainers”. Having an experienced tenant lawyer on your side leveled the playing field and helped fightback.

Understanding Unlawful Detainer Lawsuits

Unlawful detainer refers to a landlord filing a lawsuit to evict a tenant without following proper procedure. Reasons could include:

  • Non-payment of rent when the tenant has valid defenses
  • Retaliation for asserting tenant rights
  • Discrimination against protected classes

Landlords must provide adequate written notice before starting eviction proceedings. They can’t lockout tenants or force them to leave without going through the court process.

How a Tenant Rights Lawyer Can Help

An unlawful detainer attorney focuses specifically on defending tenants facing eviction lawsuits. Their in-depth knowledge of California housing law helps tenants stay in their homes. Specific ways a lawyer can help include:

  • Reviewing notices to identify defects
  • Asserting legal defenses to stop or delay evictions
  • Negotiating settlements for tenants to avoid an eviction on their record
  • Appearing in court to contest evictions and present defenses
  • Ensuring landlords follow all proper procedures

Having an advocate levels the playing field against powerful landlords trying to skirt the rules.

Key Tenant Defenses Against Unlawful Evictions

California has numerous tenant protections that skilled lawyers use to build strong cases. Potential defenses to unlawful detainer lawsuits include:

  • Improper notice: Landlords must strictly follow notice rules or start over. Common defects include incorrect amounts, service errors, or inadequate time.
  • Habitability issues: Tenants can withhold rent if a unit has serious health or safety defects until repairs are made. This impacts evictions based on non-payment.
  • Discrimination: Evicting tenants for discriminatory reasons based on protected characteristics is illegal.

An experienced lawyer identifies potential defenses to either get the case dismissed or delay eviction to find a resolution.

Having a tenant attorney levels the playing field and asserts your rights when facing an unlawful eviction lawsuit. Don’t let landlords skirt the rules and procedures. Fight back with the help of an expert unlawful detainer lawyer focusing on tenant defenses and rights.