Unlawful Detainer Eviction

An eviction, or unlawful detainer, is the legal process a landlord must follow to ask a court to restore their possessory right to a rental unit. It is illegal for a landlord to attempt to evict a tenant without going through an unlawful detainer eviction. Actions like changing the locks, removing tenant's belongings, or disconnecting utilities are all strictly prohibited.

Before the court process can begin, the landlord must first give you a notice. The notice may attempt to end your rental agreement for just cause, collect late rent, or enforce the rules of your rental agreement. See types of notices. If you fail to comply with a valid notice, the landlord can then proceed with an unlawful detainer, which is an eviction lawsuit.

The landlord must attempt to serve you a court document called a "Summons and Complaint" that explains they are asking the court to evict you in an "unlawful detainer" lawsuit and states the reasons why. It is extremely important that you seek advice from a qualified attorney immediately after receiving a "Summons and Complaint." The document will contain a deadline for your response. If you do not respond by that deadline, you might be evicted by default. Contact an attorney through the 2-1-1 Community Information Line or visit the Housing Justice Project.