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Resolving Your Eviction / "Unlawful Detainer" Case in California Courts - Chapter 3

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If you are served with an unlawful detainer complaint, you should get legal advice or assistance immediately. Tenant organizations, tenant-landlord programs, housing clinics, legal aid organizations, or private attorneys can provide you with advice, and assistance if you need it.

You usually have only five days to respond in writing to the landlord's complaint. You must respond during this time by filing the correct legal document with the Clerk of Court in which the lawsuit was filed. If the fifth day falls on a weekend or holiday, you can file your written response on the following Monday or non-holiday. Typically, a tenant responds to a landlord's complaint by filing a written "answer."

You may have a legal defense to the landlord's complaint. If so, you must state the defense in a written answer and file your written answer with the Clerk of Court by the end of the fifth day. Otherwise, you will lose any defenses that you may have.

If you don't file a written response to the landlord's complaint by the end of the fifth day, the court will enter a default judgment in favor of the landlord. A default judgment allows the landlord to obtain a writ of possession, and may also award the landlord unpaid rent, damages and court costs.

The Law Offices of James V. Sansone is located in Santa Rosa, California and litigates numerous landlord tenant disputes including evictions, contract and lease disputes, evictions after foreclosure, and problem tenants, throughout Sonoma County, Mendocino County, and Lake County, including Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma, Kenwood, Glen Ellen, Windsor, Bodega Bay, Ukiah, Willits, Clearlake, Lakeport, and Kelseyville.

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