Paralegal Essentials – Landlord Tenant Law (Part 3)


The unalwful detainer is the exception to just about every rule of civil procedure.  For example, the civil complaint is served and the defendant has 30 days to answer.  The unlawful detainer complaint is served and the defendant has 5 days to answer.  The differences between a general civil action and an unlawful detainer action are significant.  Here are just a few:

  • It is a “summary” procedure (practically the fastest civil trial proceeding)
  • Entitled to Trial Preference
  • Narrow scope of the proceedings (limited to issues of the right to possession and incidental damages resulting from the unlawful detainer action)
  • Different service and response rules for discovery

Unlawful Detainer Complaint

The Unlawful Detainer Complaint is a Judicial Council form which is approved for optional use by the California Judicial Council.  That means that the form is not mandatory or required.  If you wanted to, you could draft your own pleading complaint.

Some things to remember about drafting the complaint are:

  • allege the proper plaintiff
  • allege the proper defendant
  • describe the premises with reasonable certainty
  • attach copy of 3-day or 30-day notice
  • allege oral or written rental agreement
  • allege facts on which eviction claim is based
  • allege rent and damages
  • allege costs and attorneys fees
  • include verification

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