Step 2: Filing an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit
An Unlawful Detainer is a lawsuit that is filed with the civil court. The filing fee for an unlawful detainer varies from $250 to $400 depending on the amount of damages- hiring an attorney will cost $600 or more. To file an unlawful detainer you will need to hire an eviction attorney. Unlawful Detainer usually take 30 days if they go to court and only 15 days if the unlawful detainer action is uncontested. Once an Unlawful detainer has been filed, the tenant has 5 days to respond- if they do not file an answer, they cannot appear in court, and you will win by default judgment with no trial.
The tenant may respond to the unlawful detainer by filing an “answer”. Should the tenant answer then a trial date will be set. The court clerk must schedule a trial within 20 days of request.
filing an unlawful detainer (fancy name for eviction lawsuit). Tell your tenant “when you did/do ______, you are in violation of the lease. You have X days to find a new place, pack up your things and move out. Otherwise I will contact my eviction attorney and begin an eviction. An eviction goes on your credit report for seven years and it will be hard for you to find a new place to live- I’d like to avoid that so hopefully we can solve this problem ourselves without the need for an eviction.”
If the tenant doesn’t voluntarily vacate the unit the first step to begin an eviction is posting written notice. **WARNING** If you have never posted a notice before I strongly recommend hiring an eviction attorney to do it for you. These notices have very specific information that must be included on them and if you make a mistake, you will have served a defective notice which will not stand up in court. Some examples of common mistakes on 3 day notices are putting late fees as money owed- you can only put the rent. Another mistake is not filling out the business hours and times that rent can be delivered.
There are two different types of notices; notices that are correctable (such as pay rent or remedy breach) and non-correctable (landlord is moving into a unit, notification of termination of tenancy, or property is being demolished). For eviction notices that are correctable, the law requires 3 day notice. If the notice is not correctable, then a 30-day or 60-day is required.
An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a “summary” court procedure. This means that the court action moves forward very quickly, and that the time given the tenant to respond during the lawsuit is very short.
When the time period of your notice is expired, you may file an unlawful detainer lawsuit with the civil court. The filing fee for an unlawful detainer varies from $250-$400.
Hire an eviction attorney! They cost $600-$1,000 and are worth every cent. Your eviction attorney can file the unlawful detainer and make sure your 3 day notice is not defective. Unlawful Detainer usually take 8-10 weeks to get a ruling if they are uncontested and 12-14 weeks if they are contested. Once an Unlawful detainer has been filed, the tenant has 5 days to respond- if they do not file an answer, they cannot appear in court, and you will win a default judgement.