My landlord has brought me to Unlawful Detainer court twice now. I successfully won both cases. My apartment was deemed uninhabitable and I was ordered to vacate immediately. Because of this, I am entitled to relocation benefits due ti displacement. During my U.D. case, I was told I was not allowed, as the defendant, to ask for relocation OR special damages (my landlord repeatedly demanded rent on an uninhabitable dwelling entitling me to between $100 and $5000) The judge told me I had to sue my landlord separately. I went to small claims court today and my case was dismissed WITH prejudice, and the judge told me I had to have asked for relocation and damages in my U.D. case. EXCUSE ME?! Can someone PLEASE tell me the truth because I believe this pro ten judge has not a clue.
No. An unlawful detainer is a summary proceeding. As such, an unlawful detainer proceeding is given legal precedence over all other civil actions so that it can be quickly heard and determined. (Code of Civil Procedure §1179a.)
A cross-complaint is not permitted in an unlawful detainer lawsuit. A defendant has no right to file a cross-complaint or counterclaim because possession is the only issue being litigated in an unlawful detainer action. (Vella v. Hudgins (1977) 20 Cal.3d 251, 255.)
You must file a civil lawsuit for damages. The civil lawsuit may be filed as a small claims action, or a limited jurisdiction superior court action, or an unlimited jurisdiction superior court action.
I don't know the basis of your small claims court case, or how you presented your case, or anything about the landlord's defense in that case. The small claims judge was probably incorrect. However, if you were the plaintiff in the small claims court case and lost, you do not have the right to appeal. You would have a right to appeal the small claims court case if the landlord filed a Defendant's Claim in that case.
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
The above attorney is correct, you should file the two separately.
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The Small Claims Court judge may have misunderstood the description of your case. Even then, it is unusual for a judge to dismiss an action with prejudice. I suggest you sit down with your own attorney and go over your paperwork in detail to protect your legal rights.
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