TENANTS LEGAL CENTER
In California, the action to evict is called an "UNLAWFUL DETAINER"
This is a CIVIL CASE but moves along and has some
characteristics of a Criminal Case because:
Most all eviction cases (Unlawful Detainers) must be preceded by an EVICTION NOTICE. The notable exception is at the end of a lease where generally no special notice is required.
If the tenant disagrees with the notice and remains in the property, a court eviction lawsuit called an UNLAWFUL DETAINER will follow. After receiving such a lawsuit, tenants must defend their rights or lose them.
YOU MUST TIMELY RESPOND TO AN EVICTION LAWSUIT
After receiving an UNLAWFUL DETAINER, the tenant/occupant must respond timely or lose the case. If you are personally served, you have only 5 calendar days to respond. If someone is served for you, you may have an additional 10 days. Weekends are counted but the last day to respond cannot land on a weekend (or holiday). If it does, the "last day" carries over to the next business day. There are many defenses which can be raised. Some involve the facts of the case and some are technical ("loopholes") which can win the case just as well. If the case is not defended properly the landlord will usually "get away" with it and win a judgment even with a bad or illegal case!
IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY FILE YOUR PAPERS, YOU WILL LOSE
If a tenant fails to file papers correctly and on time, they lose by "default". Once this happens, the case is lost and the tenant is prevented from telling their story to the court. The lockout eviction then follows.
WE CAN HELP
There is a procedure we can use to stop the lockout and reverse a judgment taken against a tenant due to failure to file papers on time. This is an emergency service to stop the eviction and cancel the default judgment.
DO NOT LOSE YOUR RIGHTS
Many tenants simply move out and do not fight the case thinking this will solve the problem. Do not make this mistake. Simply moving out may mean a judgment will be taken without the tenant even knowing what happened until it's too late.
Tenants should defend their cases in court to try and prevent an eviction judgment (which would severely hurt their credit) BUT tenants should never represent themselves in court in an eviction case. In San Diego, a tenant without an attorney almost always will lose the case or agree to a bad settlement.regardless of the potential rights or defenses. We do not blame the courts because we have many fine judges here. The reality is that the laws and procedures of Landlord Tenant cases are very technical and move quickly. Because of this, there are so many "legal" traps to fall into.
Sometimes, a landlord can promptly evict a tenant without a court eviction case when that tenant is legally defined as a lodger. In these matters, the lodger may be evicted by the police as a trespasser after the eviction notice expires.
If an eviction is filed against you, DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS!!