What Happens after the Tenant is served with the Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit?
The Uncontested Case = No Court Appearance
In about half of the cases, the tenant will not respond to the unlawful detainer lawsuit so that the landlord can have a judgment for possession entered by the Court. Once the court clerk enters the judgment for possession, the case is sent to the Sheriff's office for lockout proceedings.
The Sheriff goes to the property and posts a 5-Day Notice To Vacate on the front door. If the tenants fail to vacate within that period of time, the Sheriff will return and physically lock out the tenants and possession will be restored to the Landlord. Change the locks so that the tenant cannot get back into the property.
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The Contested Case = Court Appearance(s)
Some tenants may have legitimate defenses to an unlawful detainer action. In those cases, the tenant should win the case against the landlord if there are glaring deficiencies in the landlord's paperwork or serious habitability problems with the premises.
The majority of tenants however, have little or no defenses to the unlawful detainer case and use the Court system to delay the eviction process to buy them more time.
Unfortunately, there are many eviction delay services available to the unscrupulous tenant and, for a nominal fee; the tenant can file various frivolous motions with the court to temporarily halt the eviction proceeding. Many times, the tenant will not even bother to mail a copy of the answer or other motion to the Landlord's attorney in an effort to "sandbag" them. It is frustrating to be involved with a tenant who pulls these legal tricks and maneuvers but the California court system allows tenants to file the following response / motions regardless of whether there is any merit or truth in them.