Another Eviction Trick

Unlawful detainers are frequently used to evict tenants. Sometimes, a landlord will be tricky and serve you with a forcible detainer. What’s the difference?

Forcible detainers are a form of eviction

Forcible detainers can be used when the landlord alleges you have stayed in your apartment without permission. Suppose you gave notice to your landlord that you are moving and then, for some reason, you can’t. If the landlord wants to evict you, he must first serve you with a demand that you surrender your home within five days from the date of service. Then the landlord can serve you with a complaint for forcible detainer.

The legal process moves quickly

Like an unlawful detainer, forcible detainer action moves quickly through the legal system. You must file a response within five calendar days after being served. Unfortunately, there are very limited defenses in a forcible detainer action.

If you are moving, be clear about your plans and then stick to them. Keep documentation about the notices you send to the landlord about when you are vacating your home. If your plans change, make sure you have the landlord’s response in writing that you can stay longer in your unit.

If there are misunderstandings, you might consider talking to an experienced tenant attorney that can help you with your eviction problems.

Source: California Civil Code 1160.


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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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