TENANTS LEGAL CENTER
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EVICTIONS

        
 

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DEFEND YOUR
RIGHTS IN AN EVICTION CASE

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EVICTION
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This is the process whereby a landlord forces a tenant to move out of the rental.  It can be a traumatic event.  Sometimes there are good reasons to evict a tenant.  Other times, the tenant faces an eviction because, unfortunately, the law in many California jurisdictions allows a landlord to evict a tenant for no reason.

In California, the action to evict is called an "UNLAWFUL DETAINER"   This case is like a civil "criminal" charge because:

-The code describing Unlawful Detainer states a "tenant is guilty" of this offense, not just liable like in civil cases. (C.C.P. 1161)
-These cases move quickly with priority, just like criminal cases.
-Even if a tenant moves and pays the judgment amount, the "conviction" remains on the record for 7-10 years!  As a tenant, you do not want one of these following you -around on your record when you apply to rent anywhere.
-A landlord in California is not allowed to physically force a tenant out on their own without going through the above court process. 

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. 

In many jurisdictions, no reason is needed for the eviction (i.e. 30 or 60 day notices), but illegal reasons like retaliation or discrimination may invalidate the eviction and even give rise to a separate case against the landlord for such acts. 

In San Diego City, a landlord is required to state the cause for the eviction on the notice once the tenant has lived there for two years.

In many government subsidized and rent control jurisdictions, valid grounds for the eviction are required to be stated in certain eviction notices.  Other notices may demand the tenant to vacate in only three days when illegal activity, nuisance or waste or improper assignment or sublease are alleged in the notice.

Military Servicmembers have special protections afforded by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act which includes protections regarding Evictions

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
OR YOU WILL LOSE THE CASE AND BE EVICTED

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!! 


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California law for San Diego is applied in these pages.  Such laws may or may not be applicable in other jurisdictions.  The information provided herein is of a general nature and is not intended to be taken as specific legal advice.  For legal advice in a particular situation, promptly consult with an appropriate attorney.