I consult with many landlords who are surprised to learn that they can't obtain a judgment against a tenant for property damage to the subject rental unit. This is because the statutory primary purpose for an unlawful detainer action is possession, nothing more.
In addition, but only incidentally, the landlord may obtain:
1) A declaration of the forfeiture of the lease (tenancy agreement);
2) The amount of any rent due and unpaid (together with interest), if the ground for eviction is nonpayment of rent;
3) Damages for occupancy during a holdover period (up to the date of entry of the judgment); and
The landlord can obtain other relief for other causes of action arising from the landlord-tenant relationship--for instance, damages for breach of a contract to pay for alterations to the premises in a separate ordinary civil action. The judgment in the unlawful detainer proceeding will not bar such an action but will have only the limited res judicata effect of barring relitigation of the few issues that actually were determined by the judgment.
If you are dealing with a problem tenant you should consult with an experienced eviction attorney. Many landlords attempt to evict their own tenants only to be surprised when the tenant prevails at trial due to some procedural defect the landlord either overlooked or was unaware of.
Evictions may seem "simple" but that is deceptive. They are highly technical. The law may favor the landlord but they procedure favors the tenant. The Law Offices of James V. Sansone offers a full range of landlord tenant legal services. We are located in Santa Rosa, California and serve clients 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.