- You have five days after the summons is served on you to file a response with the court. The response must be in proper legal form if you want the court to hear your case. The Unlawful Detainer Answer Packet (PKT-021) lists the forms used to answer an unlawful detainer matter. Forms are available in the Civil Business Office for a nominal fee at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm?filter=UD or at http://www.turbocourt.com.
- If you do not file your response on time, you may lose the case, you may be evicted, and your wages, money, and property may be taken without further warning from the court.
- There is a fee for filing your response unless you are an indigent person qualifying for a fee waiver of court fees. If you think you may qualify for a fee waiver, ask the clerk for a Request to Waive Court Fees (JC Form # FW-001) or click the link to get a copy.
- You do not have to be involved in the lawsuit if you do not want to. And, this case will not affect your credit. However, if the landlord wins, the Sheriff will evict all person residing in the rental unit whether or not their name was on the summons and complaint.
- If you want to join the lawsuit, you have the right to do so. Fill out the Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession (CP10.5), that was attached to the court papers you received. Then file it at the courthouse within 10 days. You must also file an Answer - Unlawful Detainer (UD-105) within 5 days of filing the Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession form.
If you are being sued, you must file a responsive pleading to the lawsuit. You will then be noticed by mail of the trial date. If you do not respond, a Default Judgment may be issued against you and your eviction may proceed.
Get all the information related to your case. If possible, bring your original documents. This may include the following papers:
- The lease or rental agreement
- The Notice served on the tenant
- The letter (s) your wrote or received about the rental unit.
- Photos that show damage to the unit, if applicable
- Photos that show unsafe or unhealthy conditions, if applicable
- Building inspection reports, if applicable
You may also bring witnesses who have personal knowledge of the facts.
You can appeal or you can file a motion to set aside (cancel) the judge's order. There are strict deadlines to do this, and you need a legally valid reason to do it. You should talk to a lawyer if you want to pursue either of these options.
Note: An appeal or a motion to set aside will not stop the eviction. The only way for a tenant to stop or delay the eviction is to ask for a Stay of Execution.
The judge or jury may decide the landlord has the right to evict the tenant. If so, the judge will give the landlord a Judgment of Possession. The judge or jury may also order the tenant to pay back rent, damages and costs, such as filing fees and attorney fees (if specified in the rental agreement).
The Sheriff will serve the tenant with a Notice to Vacate the property. This gives the tenant 5 days to vacate the property. If the tenant does not vacate the property, the Sheriff will remove the tenant from the rental unit and lock him/her out.
If the tenant loses the case, but needs more time to move out, he or she can first try to talk to the landlord to see if he or she agrees to let the tenant stay a little longer.
If the landlord does not let the tenant stay longer, the tenant may file a Request for a Stay of Eviction ("Stay") and set an ex parte hearing. If the judge lets the tenant stay longer, the tenant may have to pay the rent for that period of time. The amount of time the tenant can stay will depend on the case.
- The court cannot clear your credit.
- It is your responsibility to contact the credit reporting agencies for their requirements.