Evictions in California can be broken up into several categories. There are commercial and residential evictions. For the purposes of this primer, we are only discussing residential. If you would like assistance with a commercial eviction, please send a request in the form below (I respond within 24 hours). Residential evictions come in different varieties but for the most part, the procedure is the same. The law regarding these evictions may be found in California Code of Civil Procedure section 1161 (most evictions) and California Code of Civil Procedure section 1161(a) (evictions after foreclosure).
This article discusses the process of defending an eviction generally. The defenses herein relate to the process, not to specific claims of retaliation, discrimination, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, etc. To be honest, actual defenses are not always necessary to win an eviction case as a tenant. The onus is on the landlord to do everything required according to code and to do it exactly. One mistake and they could find themselves restarting the entire process 3 to 6 months down the road (if you follow the steps herein correctly).
I will disclose that many courts and many judges are not fond of tenants who are simply delaying the process. The judges already feel like they have too many cases and they tend to see through the process. If you don’t have an actual defense they will probably notice with your first appearance. However, you have the constitutional right to do everything mentioned herein and while the judge may not like it, he must allow it. Hard times fall on the best of us so sometimes an extra few months can be the difference between getting back on your feet and being homeless indefinitely.
If you feel that any of the steps here are too complicated, then please fill out the form below and I can refer you to the attorney who basically wrote the book on eviction defense in California. Most attorneys charge a few hundred bucks per month to represent you throughout this process. The attorney I mentioned above only charges about $700 per month. Don’t ever pay more than $1,000 up front though, even if they claim it’s a flat fee. That wouldn’t make sense because if the attorney charges you a flat fee, he has no incentive to delay the process for months.
All of the information and many of the forms are free and public. If you would like document templates, I have provided some that are licensed so they’re may be a nominal fee for use of those documents (all less than $10).
DISCLAIMER: This article is just a representation of the unlawful detainer process in my experience and some loop holes I’ve noticed along the way. The use of any of this information also does not create any attorney client or other relationship.