Nothing beats experience. Having litigated more than 100,000 eviction actions throughout the State of California, our attorneys have developed a particular expertise in all aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship and recovering possession of residential and commercial real property. Our unlawful detainer department includes many of the most experienced landlord-tenant and eviction attorneys in California. Based on this expertise, many of the nation’s largest landlords, property management companies and banks rely on us for legal representation. As many of the firm’s attorneys have practiced exclusively in the landlord-tenant area, we are able to provide our clients with an accumulated depth of experience and attention to detail that larger and more diverse law firms may be unable to match. We pride ourselves on providing the best eviction timelines, customer service and quality of legal representation in the industry. Our customer service representatives eagerly assist our clients and provide our property management clients with detailed weekly status reports.
Types of Evictions
We handle all types of evictions including residential evictions, commercial evictions and foreclosure evictions.
If the tenant fails to file a written response to the unlawful detainer complaint within the time permitted by law (5 days for personal service, 15 days for substitute service), the landlord is entitled to a clerk’s judgment for possession of the premises. After entry of judgment, a Sheriff lockout should occur roughly two weeks later. If the landlord desires, the landlord may obtain a money judgment by filing a declaration with the court. The money judgment will include unpaid rent, holdover damages, attorney fees (if the lease contains an attorney fee provision) and court costs.
If the tenant files an answer to the complaint, the landlord is entitled to a trial within 20 days after filing of a memorandum to set the case for trial. Most cases settle on the date of the trial. If the parties agree to a settlement, they may enter into a Stipulation for Entry of Judgment. Normally, the stipulation provides that judgment will enter in favor of the landlord against the tenant for restitution of the premises, forfeiture of the lease, past due rent, holdover damages, attorney fees (if the lease contains an attorney fee provision) and court costs. If the case does not settle, the court will hold a trial. Most unlawful detainer trials are short, taking 10 to 15 minutes. However, it is possible for cases to take several days. Although most cases are tried by a judge, either party has the right to request a trial by jury. Tenants sometimes request a jury trial in an attempt to delay eviction or make the case more expensive as a negotiating tactic.
Motions to Quash
Tenants sometimes file a motion to quash, which challenges service of the summons and complaint. Such motions are required to be heard within 3 to 7 days after filing. If such a motion is filed, the court will hear testimony regarding service of the summons and complaint. If the motion is denied, the Court will normally order the tenant to file a response to the complaint within 5 days. If the motion is granted, the summons and complaint will need to be reserved.
A demurrer is an objection to the complaint. Virtually all demurrers filed in unlawful detainer actions are filed for the purpose of attempting to delay the eviction. When a demurrer is filed, we request that the court advance the hearing on the demurrer and deny it immediately to avoid delay.
Motions to Strike
A motion to strike is a motion seeking to strike out a portion or all of a complaint. Like demurrers, virtually all motions to strike filed in unlawful detainer actions are filed for the purpose of attempting to delay the eviction. When a motion to strike is filed, we request that the court advance the hearing on the motion and deny it immediately to avoid delay.
Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession
If the landlord desires, the landlord may serve a Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession with the summons and complaint. If this procedure is used, then anyone not named in the complaint is required to complete and file a Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession with the court within 10 days of service of the complaint or be barred from objecting to enforcement of the judgment. If this procedure is not used, then anyone not named in the complaint may file a post-judgment claim of right to possession (known as an Arrietta claim), which will delay the Sheriff lockout until the claim is resolved.
Differences Between Residential Evictions and Commercial Evictions
There are significant differences between residential and commercial evictions. For example, with regard to residential property, a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit cannot overstate the amount of rent due. For commercial real property, the landlord has the option of estimating the rent due. As long as the estimated rent is within 20% of the actual amount due, the notice is valid. For residential property, acceptance of a partial payment after service of a notice to pay rent or quit will waive the notice. For commercial real property, the landlord may accept a partial payment and continue with the eviction provided certain language is included in the notice. Additionally, for residential property, there is an implied warranty of habitability. For commercial property, there is no implied warranty of habitability.
The purchaser of real property at a foreclosure sale is entitled to evict any occupant of the real property after service of a Three-Day Notice to Quit, except any tenants or subtenants. Tenants or subtenants of commercial real property are entitled to 30 days’ prior notice to quit.
For residential property, a tenant or subtenant residing with a borrower on the loan that was foreclosed is entitled to 30 days’ notice to quit. A tenant or subtenant who does not reside with a borrower on the loan is entitled to 90 days’ notice to quit unless the tenant has a fixed-term lease entered into before the transfer of title that meets certain legal requirements, in which case the lease survives the foreclosure sale and the parties are bound by the lease. Even where a lease survives the foreclosure sale, the purchaser is entitled to terminate the tenancy with 90 days’ prior written notice if the purchaser or a successor in interest will occupy the housing unit as a primary residence. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the property is subject to a rent or eviction control ordinance, the tenant may be entitled to continue renting the premises unless and until good cause to terminate the tenancy exists as defined by the local rent or eviction control ordinance. (See, Code of Civil Procedure §§ 1161a & 1161b)