A client told me that she was being evicted. Legally, she was incorrect. She had only received a notice of termination. The landlord has many more steps to take before a tenant is legally evicted.
Here’s an overview of the eviction process:
- Notice of termination.
- Filing and service of the unlawful detainer complaint. This is usually referred to as a UD.
- Defendant’s response. That would be you. If you don’t respond on time, you will be in default, which means that the landlord will be declared the winner by the Superior Court.
- Request to set the case for trial.
- Trial and judgment for possession.
- Issuance of writ of possession.
- Actual eviction pursuant to writ of possession.
How much time do you have to respond?
Evictions lawsuits are a “summary” court procedure, which means that the court action moves very quickly and your time to respond is very short. In most cases, a tenant has only five calendar days to respond unless the fifth day occurs on a weekend or holiday, and then you file your response on the following Monday or non-holiday. Normally, a judge will hear and decide the case within 20 days after the request to set the case for trial is filed.
The writ of possession gives you five days from the date the writ is served to leave your home. The San Francisco sheriff will post the writ of possession for seven calendar days. If you don’t leave, the sheriff will then remove you, lock you out of the unit, and store your belongings left in the unit.
All these are legal waters in which an ordinary person would find difficult to navigate. Consult an attorney who concentrates in tenant rights.