If You are Thinking About Evicting a Tenant From Your Residential Rental Unit
An "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.
NOTE: Disputes between landlords and tenants can involve many different issues, any of which may end up in court. If you have a dispute with your tenant that does not involve eviction, you must handle that dispute in another court, typically the small claims court. For more information on small claims court, click here.
To legally evict a tenant, you, the landlord must follow a two-step process:
- You must give the tenant specific, adequate, written notice of what you want the tenant to do - and the consequences if the tenant doesn't do it; and
- After the notice period has past - IF the tenant has not done what you asked -- you are to file an official "Complaint" with the court. The court will issue a "Summons" to the tenant.
- If the tenant DOES NOT "Answer" your "Complaint," upon application the court will issue an order for the Sheriff to physically remove the tenant and his or her possessions from your rental unit.
- If the tenant DOES "Answer" your "Complaint," the case will have to be decided in court.
At this web site you will find information about the following topics:
- What to do BEFORE a legal proceeding is started
- What to do DURING a legal proceeding
- What to do AFTER a legal proceeding
If you are a landlord, 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 who is qualified in these matters.
- For free and low-cost legal help in California, click here.
Watch a video 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.
- 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 ), 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 (example “Show Me | Tell Me”) 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.
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