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Commencing unlawful detainer actions against tenants

Some landlords in California will have tenants who fail to pay their rent or vacate their properties when their leases are up. When these situations happen, landlords may file unlawful detainer petitions in order to secure the tenants' evictions.

In order to file unlawful detainer cases, landlords must obtain and complete the civil complaint and summons together with the civil action cover sheet. After these are completed, the landlords must file them with the court that holds jurisdiction either electronically or in person. Once the documents are filed, the court will give a hearing date on the summons. All three documents must then be properly served on the defendants.

Effecting proper service can be complicated, but it is important for landlords to do it correctly or the judges might rule in favor of the tenants. Service may be properly effected by using a process server to deliver the documents personally to each defendant. The defendants are unable to avoid proper service by refusing the paperwork. If they try to do so, the process server simply has to leave the paperwork as close to the defendants as possible. The process server could also use substitute service, which is serving an adult who is in charge of the residents with the documents and mailing another copy to the defendants at their last known addresses. Substitute service is not effective until 10 days after the documents have been mailed.

Landlords might want to get help from attorneys who are experienced in landlord-tenant law when they want to evict tenants. The attorneys may prepare the documents and make sure that they are properly served on the defendants. They may then litigate for their clients at the unlawful detainer hearings.

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