If You Are a Tenant and Your Landlord Wants to Evict You

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Rental keysAn "Unlawful Detainer" case is a court process that a landlord can use to ask the courts to help make a tenant move out of his or her residential property - either because the tenant has not paid rent or has broken some other rule, or because the landlord gave the tenant a 30-day notice to vacate, and the tenant has not moved.

There are specific legal procedures that both landlords and tenants must follow in these situations. This section will help you understand your responsibilities as the tenant. If you, the tenant, DO what the landlord asks in the "Notice" on time, (pay the rent, get rid of the dog, move out, or whatever it is the landlord has requested), then the landlord can't use the "Unlawful Detainer" process to deal with you.

NOTE: The landlord cannot use self-help measures to force a tenant to move out.   He or she must use court procedures. The landlord cannot start an Unlawful Detainer case unless he or she has given the tenant written notice of what he or she wants done in a stated time period. For example, the landlord might give the tenant a "3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit," meaning that the tenant has to pay the rent in 3 days or move out.

For information about types of notices the landlord may give the tenant, see the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Most types of problems between landlords and tenants are handled in "small claims" courts. For more information about small claims court, click here. Opens new window

If you are served with a Summons-Unlawful Detainer (form SUM-130):

  • You are to fill out an Answer-Unlawful Detainer (Form UD-105) Opens new window
    See the instructions Opens new window for this form.
  • You are to file the answer with the same court that issued the summons.

If you don't file your "Answer" on time, you can:

  • Lose the case,
  • Be evicted, and
  • Have your salary, money, and property taken by the landlord without warning.

You should file an "Answer," even if you leave the property.

At this web site you will find information about:

If you are a tenant, it's important that you clearly understand your rights and responsibilities.  If you have questions this web site does not answer, you may want to consult with an attorney Opens new window who is qualified in these matters.

Watch a video Opens new window about "Resolving Your Eviction Case in the California Courts" with information about procedures, advisory services, and mediation for unlawful detainer cases. Available with English, Spanish, and Russian narration and subtitles.

Please note:

  • Some words have special meanings when used by the court. If you click on a word that is in blue with this symbol (example default Opens new
    window), a new window will open and it will give you an explanation of what the word means.
  • We also have some videos that may help you understand this information. If you see this link (exampleShow Me | Tell Me”) Opens new window you can click on this link which will take you to a page with video and audio files that you can watch and/or listen to on your computer.
  • Finally, most people have lots of questions about eviction/residential cases.  For this reason, we have created a list of Frequently Asked Questions, and a section with the forms you will need for your case.

To get the information you need, you can click on the section name that is in blue, use the “drop down” menu at the left side of each page, or you can click on the “Next” button at the bottom of some pages.

To view some short videos with general information about how California's court system works, click here. Opens new window


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