#5–What is an Unlawful Detainer Eviction?
This court action is used to evict someone from their home or workplace:
An Unlawful Detainer action is a civil court proceeding. It’s a legal way to evict someone from the place where they live or work. This usually happens when a tenant stays after the lease is up, or the lease is canceled, or the tenants is behind in their rent.
An Unlawful Detainer Complaint decides if the landlord can take the property back from the tenant. The landlord is the plaintiff. The tenant is the defendant. If the defendant moves out before trial, the case is dismissed or can be changed to a regular civil action.
- The Landlord/Owner cannot evict someone himself:The landlord/owner cannot evict someone himself. It’s against the law. Only the sheriff can evict someone. That’s why you need an Unlawful Detainer Complaint. For example: Even if a tenant is months behind on the rent, the landlord/owners cannot:
- Evict the tenant
- Get rid of the tenant’s things
- Lock the tenant out,
- Cut off the water or electricity, or
- Remove outside windows or doors.
To legally evict the tenant, the landlord has to:
Serve the tenant with a notice,
Wait for the notice to end, and
File an Unlawful Detainer action if the tenant doesn’t do what the notice asks.
- Only the Sheriff can physically evict someone:If the landlord wins, they’ll get an entry of default and “judgment for possession”. Then the tenant has to move out. The sheriff can enforce this judgment. This means the sheriff can physically make the tenant leave.
- Unlawful Detainer Eviction Proceedings:An Unlawful Detainer case is really fast. The defendant has 5 court days to file a response. You can have a trial date after that. The defendant cannot file a cross complaint. But they let the court know with the proper court documents that the plaintiffs acted badly as a defense.
The most common reason to start an Unlawful Detainer is that the relationship between a landlord and tenant ends. This happens when:
1.The tenant doesn’t leave after the lease ends.
2.There’s a month-to-month lease, and the tenant doesn’t move out after a 30-day, 60-day or 90-day notice to quit (move out).
3.The tenant doesn’t pay rent and doesn’t move out after they get a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit.
4.The tenant doesn’t move out after they break a part of the lease agreement and they don’t do what the 3-day notice says to fix the violation or move out.
5.The tenant gets a 3-day notice to move out for “committing waste” or a “nuisance” or using the property to do something illegal and doesn’t move out.