I was on a one year lease with my mother. The lease went month to month in April of 2016, and in June of 2016 I told the management company I would be moving away for a new job, but my mom and brother would still be living there. I asked if they needed anything from me in order to be taken off of the lease and they said no- and that was that. Then in Feb of 2017 I get a notice from the court (via USPS) at my new address that an unlawful detainer had been filed against me (my mother got one too). My mom had been having trouble making the rent payments. I have 2 issues: 1) I was never properly served Summons & Complaint paperwork- neither was my mother. 2) I don't want to be involved in this because I had notified management that I was leaving and they didn't request anything from me. I already sent them a notarized letter re-surrendering my possession of the property/my residency at that address and asked that I be removed from further legal action. Does anyone have insight on what I should do? I have tried calling the management's attorney, but he won't return my calls. Do I keep trying? I have zero paperwork and live 200 miles away. I am just trying to protect my credit. Thanks.
Even if you were not properly served (e.g. if the process server performed substituted service upon someone else at the unit), there is always a danger that a default judgment will be taken against you if you don't respond to the lawsuit.
There are many possible ways to respond, and possible strategies, and it would be prudent to promptly consult (via phone or otherwise) an LA landlord-tenant attorney.
One approach might be to file a Judicial Council form answer to the unlawful detainer complaint, deny the allegations as appropriate, check box 4.a (to re-confirm that you are no longer in possession), and send a letter to the plaintiff's counsel laying out the facts, and warning the attorney to either immediately dismiss you, or be sued for malicious prosecution (because there was/is no probable cause for naming you in the unlawful detainer).
If that doesn't work, you could file a motion for summary judgment, or simply show up for trial. In either instance, the landlord would have the burden of proof as to all elements of the unlawful detainer cause of action, including that you are still in possession (see Evidence Code Section 500), and clearly will not be able to meet that burden of proof.
You cannot unilaterally remove yourself from the contract.
File an answer and show up to court. If you can't hire a lawyer!
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