You fail to pay rent or violate your lease.
Your Landlord will issue a 3-day notice to quit, 3-day notice to pay or quit, 3-day notice to perform covenant or quit (eviction for cause).
Landlord wants to end the tenancy at the end of tease term (non rent control).
Your Landlord will issue 30/60-day notice to quit (eviction where Landlord has given no cause; under rent control laws, the notice must state a reason).
How to measure the notice period.
Count the 3-day or 30-day period by eliminating the: day on which you receive the notice to quit, but counting each and every day thereafter, including weekends and holidays. For example, if you receive a 3-day notice to pay or quit on Friday, Monday is the third day. You must pay/perform or quit (i.e., move out) by midnight on Monday to comply with the notice. In a 3-day notice to quit for nuisance or subletting, there is no opportunity to cure, so it is a three day period to move out only.
Failure to comply with notice.
If the time period in the notice runs out, and the notice is valid, you are said to be unlawfully detaining. The landlord may not simply throw you out, put your possessions on the sidewalk, or change the locks on the door. If the landlord wishes to proceed, he/she must file an unlawful detainer lawsuit in court and serve you with a copy of the summons and complaint.
Commencement of law suit.
Once you receive the copy of the summons and complaint, you have 5 calendar days (not counting legal holidays; weekends do count) in which to file an answer. For example, if you are served with the summons and complaint on Friday, an answer must be filed before the end of the court day on the following Wednesday. If you are served with the summons and complaint on Monday, an answer must be filed before the end of the court day on the following Monday (the five days runs out on Saturday, but if the 5th day is a court holiday, the answer may be filed on the next court day). Before you receive the actual summons and complaint, you may receive a one-page notice from the court that the unlawful detainer case has been filed. This notice does not require that you take any action. Simply hold it and wait for the lawsuit papers (the summons and complaint).
If you do not file an answer within five days after you receive the summons and complaint, on day 6, the landlord may file: a default (you have defaulted by not answering within the time allowed by law) and get a default judgment against you without your having a chance to tell your side of the story to the court.
Case set for trial.
If you file an answer the case will be set for trial. California state law requires that the case go to trial within 20 days of the date that a trial is requested. Landlords usually demand trial as soon as they receive the answer.
Day of Trial.
On the day of trial, you must have all your witnesses and all your evidence with you and be ready to try the case. Judges do not like to continue the case on the day of trial because the tenant is not ready. For this reason, all your witnesses should be subpoenaed. If a subpoenaed witness is not present, the judge is more likely to continue the trial than if an un-subpoenaed witness is not present.
Trial by Judge or Jury.
You have a right to have your case heard by a judge or by a jury. If you want a jury trial, you must post jury fees at least 5 days before the date of trial. You should also have a court reporter present. The municipal courts do not provide court reporters for civil trials, so you have to bring your own. In most unlawful detainer cases, it is better to have the case heard by a judge than a jury. These cases are based on technical law, and a Judge is more likely to understand the law.
If you win after trial
After trial, if you have won, you keep the right to live in your unit. You will also get a judgment for costs of the lawsuit. The costs include your filing fees, witness fees, and jury fees, if applicable. Attorney fees are only included as costs of the lawsuit if a written rental agreement provides for' attorney fees.
If the landlord wins after trial.
After trial, if the landlord wins, he/she will get a judgment for possession, for costs of the lawsuit, for back rent if the lawsuit is based on a notice to pay rent or quit, and for rental value for the period from the end of the notice to quit until the date of the judgment. Rental value is usually the same amount of money as the rent. If the rental agreement has an Attorney fee provision, the landlord will get reasonable attorney fees.
Landlord recovery of possession of the unit.
To recover possession of the unit, the landlord must get a writ of execution. This is available as soon as the trial is over. A copy of the writ must be served on you. This is usually done by a sheriff. Once you 'get the writ, you have five days to move out. If you do not move out, the sheriff will remove you from the unit. If you then go back into the unit without the landlord's permission, you are violating a court order. This is a. misdemeanor and can land you in jail.
Personal belongings left behind.
If you leave any personal property on the premises, it may be sold by the landlord unless you pay the reasonable cost of storage and take possession of the property within 15 days after notice from the landlord describing the property.
Enforcement of money judgment.
The landlord may collect the money part of the judgment (the costs of the lawsuit, rent, and rental value) by garnishing your wages or by having the marshal seize non-exempt assets you own.
No attorney client relationship is created
This sheet is provided for information only and does not create an attorney client relationship or intended as legal advice. You should not be afraid to fight an unlawful detainer if you have a meritorious defense. Tenants win many unlawful detainer actions, particularly if they are represented by counsel.