Unlawful Detainer | Eviction Process



An unlawful detainer occurs when a tenant retains possession of property without a legal right to do so. Unlawful detainer actions are more commonly known as evictions. In California,  a landlord must go through the official unlawful detainer process to evict a tenant. 

An eviction proceeding begins with the landlord filing and serving a complaint on the tenant. The tenant usually has five days to respond to the complaint. If no response is filed, the landlord may seek a default judgment from the court and then proceed with the remaining formal eviction procedures. A landlord may not physically evict the tenant on his/her own at this point. A knowledgeable and skilled eviction lawyer can complete the process to avoid any delays or mistakes which only buy time for the tenant. However if the tenant files a response, the landlord can request a trial which is set for twenty days out.

Although eviction may sound simple, the legal eviction process is strictly rule based and involves many small details & complications. This, coupled with the fact that California law is tenant friendly, can send you back to square one if there is even one mistake in your paperwork or procedure. Your tenant then gets extra time to stay on the property, often rent free, despite the fact that you want them out. 

The Law Offices of Lucy Zheng is experienced in landlord tenant law and can help you successfully and smoothly complete an eviction the first time around. Contact us for a consultation and case evaluation to begin the eviction process.