Service of Process (Proof of Service)
The landlord must make sure the tenant knows about the lawsuit. The correct way of notifying the tenant is called "service of process," which means giving the tenant a copy of the summons and complaint.
- The landlord cannot give the tenant a copy of the official Summons and complaint; the landlord must arrange for someone else to do it.
- Anyone who is over the age of 18 and who is not a party to the case, may serve a copy of the official Summons and complaint on tenant.
- The service of process must be done according to strict rules or else the case may be dismissed or delayed.
- The person who serves the tenant must sign court paperwork showing when the tenant was served. This paper is called "Proof of Service."
- The tenant must be served by a certain date and the proof of service must be filed with the court clerk.
There are several ways to serve process on (give a copy of the summons and complaint to) the tenant:
- Personal Service
- A copy of the Complaint and Summons delivered personally to the tenant by someone over the age of 18 who is not party to the case.
- Private Process Servers - These agencies will provide service of process for a fee. For more information, consult your Yellow Pages or the Internet.
- The person who serves the tenant must complete a "Proof of Service" form verifying that the tenant was properly served with a copy of the summons and complaint.
- Substitute service
- If you are unable to serve the tenant directly, you may serve the tenant by substitute service. This is a three-step process where someone other than the tenant personally receives a copy of the official Summons and complaint.
- Step 1. A declaration of due diligence showing attempts of personal service made pursuant to CCP §415.20 and Local Rule of Court 2.1.5 should be followed.
Step 2. The first copy must be delivered to someone 18 years or older at one of the following:
- At the tenant's residence - delivered to a competent member of the household
- At the tenant's business office - delivered to a person apparently in charge of that office
- At the tenant's usual mailing address other than a U.S. postal service box
Step 3. A second copy must be mailed to the tenant.
- Order to Post
- An order for posting the official summons and complaint is utilized in unlawful detainer cases when the defendant cannot be officially notified in a reasonable amount of time by personal service or by substitute service.
- A Plaintiff who seeks an order for posting the official summons must submit a declaration and an order to the court along with an original declaration of due diligence signed under penalty of perjury by the person who attempted service (official notification) pursuant to Local Rule of Court 2.1.5.
- Plaintiff seeking an order to post must submit a Declaration and Order to the court along with an original Declaration of Due Diligence signed under penalty of perjury by the person attempting service.
- Once the order allowing service by posting and mailing has been signed by the court, the summons and complaint must be posted at the property and a copy mailed to the tenant by certified mail.
- If the official order is going to be posted on a garage or on a boat, the declaration must state whether the defendant is living in the garage or boat. If the defendant is not living in the garage or boat, the mailing must be to the last known residence or business address of the defendant.
For more information, visit the self help center for the California Courts.