Jul. 30, 2014
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Unlawful Detainer – Landlord Tenant Disputes



Landlord (Plaintiff) Information

Notice to Tenant:

You must give the tenant an appropriate written notice prior to initiating a case with the court.  There are several types of notices available at office supply stores and if you are uncertain as to what type, you should obtain legal assistance or check www.courts.ca.gov.  You may be required to provide proof of service to the judge if you go to trial. 

Summons and Complaint:

All unlawful detainer forms are available at www.courts.ca.gov/forms or at the Civil Division of the court for a nominal fee.  Before filing with the court, you must make a copy for yourself and a copy for each party named in your complaint.  Bring all originals and copies to the clerk for filing with the appropriate fee. (link to fee schedule)

Service of Complaint and Summons:

A copy of the Summons and Complaint must be served on each defendant (tenant).  You cannot do this yourself but may be done by the sheriff, a legal process server or someone over the age of 18 who is not a party to the action.  A Proof of Service must be completed and filed with the court.

Default Judgment:

If the defendant fails to file an answer within the statutory time allowed, a default judgment that includes possession of the premises may be prepared and presented.  These forms are available at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.  After filing and the payment of appropriate fees, (link to fee schedule) you will need to take the writ for possession to the sheriff’s department for service.

Defendant Answers:

If a defendant files an answer, a Request to Set Case for Trial is required for the matter to go forward to trial.  These forms are available at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.  Once filed, the court will mail you notice regarding the trial date.  

Preparing for Your Trial:

You should start gathering all the information that relates to your case, including witnesses and paperwork.  You will need to bring three copies of each paper with you: one for the judge, one for the defendant and one for yourself.   

Children are not allowed in the courtroom so do not bring them with you.  The court does not provide interpreters for this type of case.  If you need an interpreter to help you in court, you must bring one with you.  The court also does not provide a Court Reporter and if you desire to have one present, you must make arrangements to hire one yourself.

Trial:

During the trial, the bailiff will take any exhibits from you and give them to the judge.  You will need to speak clearly and only when asked to do so.  Be sure you speak to the judge, not to the other party.  Do not argue with or interrupt the judge, the other party, or attorney.  Each side will be given an opportunity to be heard.  Try not to raise your voice but speak in a calm, clear way and do not engage in name-calling or make demeaning comments.

Judgment and Writ of Execution:

If the court orders judgment for you, it will be your responsibility to prepare the judgment for the Court’s signature and writ of execution for issuance by the clerk.  You may find these forms at www.courts.ca.gov/forms   After paying the appropriate fee and issuance by the clerk, the writ must be taken to the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department for service on the defendant.  

Legal Assistance:

If you have any legal questions, you must contact an attorney or go to www.courts.ca.gov/self-help

TENANT (Defendant) INFORMATION

Before a Legal Action is Filed:

The landlord must begin the eviction process by giving you an appropriate written notice.  If you are uncertain whether you have received the appropriate notice, you should obtain legal assistance or you may try www.courts.ca.gov/self-help   If you do not move out by the end of the period stated in the notice, the landlord can begin the legal process by filing a complaint with the court.

Service of Complaint and Summons:

After paperwork is filed with the court, you will be served with a copy of the Summons and Complaint.  If you are uncertain whether you have been properly served, you should contact a legal advisor.  You normally will have only five calendar days to file an answer with the court and pay the appropriate fee.  

Answer to Complaint:

The answer forms are available at www.courts.ca.gov/forms or at the Civil Division of the court.  Once completed a copy of the answer must be mailed to the plaintiff and the original filed with the court along with the appropriate filing fee. (link to fee schedule).  If you fail to answer the complaint within the allotted time, the plaintiff may obtain a default judgment and a writ will issue for possession of the premises.  If you answer, the plaintiff will file a Request to Set Case for Trial and the court will mail you notice regarding the trial date.

Preparing for Your Trial:

You should start gathering all the information that relates to your case, including witnesses and paperwork.  You will need to bring three copies of each paper with you: one for the judge, one for the plaintiff and one for yourself.

Children are not allowed in the courtroom so do not bring them with you.  The court does not provide interpreters for this type of case.  If you need an interpreter to help you in court, you must bring one with you.  The court also does not provide a Court Reporter and if you desire to have one present, you must make arrangements to hire one yourself.  

Trial:

During the trial, the bailiff will take any exhibits from you and give them to the judge.  You will need to speak clearly and only when asked to do so.  Be sure you speak to the judge, not to the other party.  Do not argue with or interrupt the judge, the other party, or attorney.  Each side will be given an opportunity to be heard.  Try not to raise your voice but speak in a calm, clear way and do not engage in name-calling or make demeaning comments.

Judgment and Writ of Execution:

If the court orders judgment against you, the plaintiff will prepare the judgment and writ of execution for possession of real property to be issued by the clerk.  This writ will be taken to the Sutter County Sheriff’s Department for service upon you and you will have to vacate the premises.  If you do not move out during this period, the Sheriff will remove you from the property.

Legal Assistance:

If you have any legal questions, you must contact an attorney or www.courts.ca.gov/self-help

© 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Sutter