Counsel, Advocacy & Representation for California Tenants

What is an unlawful detainer?

If you have received an unlawful detainer summons, then your landlord has sued to evict you.

Responding to the summons

In California, an eviction can only take place through the court with an action called an unlawful detainer.  It begins when you get a copy of the lawsuit, or complaint, and attached to it will be a legal document called a summons. The summons is the court’s invitation to come and defend your case.  Once you receive the summons and complaint, you have a short period of time to respond.

Take immediate action when you receive legal documents from your landlord

You are only granted 5 days to file an answer in court from the date that the summons is given to you, or to an adult member of your household.  These 5 days include the days of the weekend.  If you are served on Wednesday, the landlord can ask for a default on the following Tuesday because your last day to submit you answer will be Monday.

If you have already received a summons for unlawful detainer, then don’t delay.  Click on the button below to schedule an appointment for a consultation and answer preparation with an attorney.

If you don’t file an answer within 5 days, then the plaintiff can ask the court to enter a default against you.  Once the court grants a default, then you will lose your opportunity to defend your case.  If a tenant files the answer before the plaintiff requests a default, then the case will move forward on a fast track to trial.  The plaintiff will request a trial, and the court will grant a trial date within three weeks.

Many tenants are evicted wrongly and very quickly because they take too long to respond to the situation.

In California, renters have significant rights to protect their homes, but your rights are only useful if you are prepared to assert them quickly .  Self-education about renters’ rights is important, but once you have been served with an unlawful detainer summons, there is no substitute for aggressive advocacy from a legal professional.

If you are not sure whether you have a legal defense, it is important to speak with an attorney to learn about your rights. Having a lawyer to assist you from the outset will provide you with the greatest chance of a successful outcome. Even if you are not certain you need to set an appointment just yet, it can’t hurt to reach out for help. Please feel free to send any information concerning your case to us by clicking on the button below, and we will do our best to get back to you promptly.

Additional Information

Fight wrongful eviction

If you are a tenant that is being dragged into court by your landlord for unjust reasons, get legal assistance immediately

Contact Us

If you are still uncertain whether you need an attorney to defend against eviction, then call us today to discuss your case, or fill out the form below in order to explain how we can help, and we will reply to you.

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Get Representation

If you have a situation that is more than a question, and are already having a dispute with your landlord, then information alone is often not enough to settle the matter to your advantage. What most renters need, but seldom have, is an attorney who knows the law, and the landlord’s duties under the law, and is not afraid to advocate for tenants.

Even the most informed tenants can find the court system overwhelming.  Defending against eviction on your own is more than just challenging.  Fort the unprepared and unrepresented it is an ordeal filled with traps.  Tenants who go to court without an attorney frequently enter into bad agreements and suffer humiliation at the hands of the landlord’s lawyers. Having an experienced attorney on your side will make a difference.

Get Informed

If your situation is not a lawsuit in court, but rather a question, or a curiosity about what the law says, there are many places where you can find educational materials, and  every tenant should become familiar with the legal protections for tenants in California law.

Many times the answer to tenants’ legal questions are more complicated than they may first appear.  It’s important to be careful, and not to rely upon every piece of information posted online, or simply accept the advice of friends and neighbors.  Make sure the source of your legal advice is reliable and up to date.

Look around the website and see if we have information to help you.  If you have a question and you can’t find an answer,  click here to send us a comment.  An attorney that specializes in advocating for tenants will reply, and can direct you to the resources you need. 

Don't go to Trial unprepared

Written notices demanding the payment of rent, notices that threaten the termination of your lease, accusations of illegal activity, and notices of changes in terms and conditions of a lease from a landlord or property manager are often the prelude to legal action.  They must be taken seriously.  It is critical for tenants to respond to notice from a landlord intelligently and prudently.

Before you agree to excessive rent increases, or allow the oppressive actions of the owner or management intimidate you, meet with a professional.

Information, early in time, is the key to success.  Often times becoming informed can help you to avoid being on defense.  If you are not able to avoid litigation, then consult with an attorney who stands with tenants and defends their rights.

Don't Waste Time

When a tenant has a legal conflict with the landlord, there is often only a short period of time to act.  Under California law, landlords are usually required to give notice to tenants before they resort to legal action. However, most of these legally required notices give a tenant only three days to act.  When a tenant fails to act within the three days then the landlord can proceed to court.

Once an action to evict (also called unlawful detainer) is filed against a tenant in court, it can move very quickly.   Landlords enjoy a unique legal procedure, which is known as a summary proceeding.   Once a tenant is sued in court, and then served with an unlawful detainer summons, then he or she has only five days to respond.

If your landlord has sued you or is threatening to sue you, then you must act quickly. Hesitation and uncertainty can lead to a loss of money, loss of security and the loss of your home. Don’t wait.  Schedule an appointment for a consultation  immediately to discuss your case.