The purpose of this page is to demystify the Unlawful Detainer process for Riverside landlords. We knew this would be helpful because the most common question that we get from landlords calling about evictions is: how does the eviction process work? Here is the answer.
The most common Riverside Eviction calls we receive are for unlawful detainers for non-payment of rent. So the explanation will be based on an getting rid of a tenant that is not paying their rent.
The first thing a landlord needs to do is serve the tenant with a three day notice to pay rent or quit.
If the tenant pays the rent within the three days, the tenant gets to stay and the process is over until the tenant fails to pay the rent again. If the tenant does not pay, it is time to file the eviction lawsuit. In California, the lawsuit is called an unlawful detainer. You file at the appropriate Riverside Courthouse (which courthouse depends on the zip code of the rental property).
Once the Unlawful Detainer Case is Filed:
The tenant (now the defendant) must be served with the summons and complaint. Important point here so pay attention. The landlord (now the Plaintiff) cannot serve the summons and complaint on the defendant. The person doing the service cannot be a party to the lawsuit. The best way to do this is to have a registered process server because the defendant cannot just say I was never served if a registered server does the service.
Once the defendant is served:
They have five (5) days to file some sort of responsive pleading (usually an answer) with the Riverside Court. What happens next depends on whether or not the defendant actually files an answer or not.
If the defendant (remember this is the tenant) does NOT file an answer within the five days:
You then request the court enter a default against the defendant and request the court enter a default judgment for possession.
If the defendant does file an answer:
You the request the Riverside Court to set a trial date. The Court is supposed to set the trial day within 20 days of your request.
On the day of your Riverside Eviction trial:
You will put on your case and if you win, the Court will enter a judgment against the defendant and award you possession of the premises. This is an order from the Court saying that the tenant must leave.
Once you have a judgment (whether after a trial or by default):
You get the Court to issue a Writ of Possession in order to enforce the judgment. This is basically an order from the Court to the Riverside Sheriff telling the Sheriff to lockout the tenant. The Court charges $25.00 for the writ.
Once you get the writ:
You give it to the sheriff with instructions to lock out the tenant. The sheriff will then post a notice on the door of the premises letting them know that if they are not out by a certain date (minimum of five days), that the sheriff will lockout them out. If the tenant is still there on the date the Sheriff’s notice says, the Sheriff will lock the tenant out and return possession to you.
That is the basic overview of the process.
Our costs page explains the costs for an unlawful detainer.
To find out the most common mistakes that Landlords make that cause them to lose Unlawful Detainer cases, download our free guide to the right.