The Three Day Notice
You will need to commence the process of eviction by serving upon the tenant a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. You must be sure that the Three day notice contains an accurate description of the rent due as of the date you serve the notice. You cannot include any other late charges or fees in the three day notice. You must make sure that the three day notice provides your proper contact information so that the tenant can pay the rent
Summons and Complaint
Upon expiration of the three day notice and presuming the tenant failed to pay the rent within that time period. You must now file a Summons and Complaint. You will need to use a special Summons form for the unlawful detainer as the tenant will only have five (5) days to respond as opposed to thirty days in a general civil case. You will need to make sure that the caption matches identically to the caption on the complaint. You will need to include the address of the court you are filing your case in. You will also need to fill out the Complaint form, which is the document that states the facts of your case and the damages you have incurred because of the tenant.
Service of Summons and Complaint
After the court has filed your case, you will have your conformed copies with a case number assigned to the case. You will now need to serve the conformed copy upon the tenant, now known as the defendant. Again, anyone over the age of 18 not a party to the action can serve these papers. It is advised that a licensed process server or local sheriff be used to serve said papers. Please note for those parties not named, but residing at the property who claim to have right to possession will have ten days to respond assuming you serve the Prejudgment claim of right to possession with the Summons and Complaint.
Failure to Answer by Tenant
If the defendant fails to answer the complaint then you can file a request for entry of default. This is a judicial council form available on the California Courts website. Defaulting the defendant means that the defendant cannot appear in the case or defend himself in the case without first setting the default aside. After entry of default by the court against the defendant, you can immediately seek to have default judgment entered against the defendant. This will allow you to get a judgment against the defendant awarding you both possession of the property and/or money damages as well.
Answer by Tenant and Taking Matter to Trial
After the tenant has filed an Answer to the complaint, you will have to request the court set the case for trial. The court must set the matter for trial within 20 days after they receive the request for trial setting. Once you have your trial date, you will want to make sure that you have all your documents ready to prove your case. Make sure that you have sufficient copies as you will need to provide copies to the court, a copy to any witness testifying if you are having them testify regarding a document, a copy for the opposing side, and of course a copy for yourself. I recommend creating a binder for each so that it is organized and ready. This way you can just give the court and opposing party the binder without having to do it for each document. On the day of trial, be sure to arrive before your scheduled start time to the courthouse as you will have to go through security and t
After the judge has rendered a judgment in your favor, you will need to submit to the court a judgment form. You will need to accurately fill this out and submit to the court. Once the judgment is formally entered you can then file for the writ of possession with the court. This is the document you will need that will allow the sheriff to go to the property and perform the lock out to evict the tenants and get possession of the property back. You will need to pay a fee to the court for the issuance of the writ. Once the court issues the writ you will submit it to the local sheriff along with written instructions and the applicable fees. The sheriff will then serve the writ of possession and notify the tenant of the lock out date and time. You will likely want to be present at the property on the lock out date with a locksmith in order to re-key