Tenants: Landlord Files the Complaint with the Court & Serves the Papers to You (Step 2 of 6)

”One Two - Served With Complaint Three - Decide to Respond Four - File Response Five - Trial Six - After Judgment

Getting Sued

If you have not done what the eviction notice asks by the time the notice runs out, the landlord must file papers in court to get the case started. The landlord will file a Summons and Complaint for an unlawful detainer (eviction) at the court.  If you want to know more about what the landlord has to do to get the case started, read For Landlords.

Once the landlord files the unlawful detainer case in court, he or she has to serve the tenant in one of these 3 ways:

Personal Service

The server gives the tenant the papers in person. If the tenant will not take the papers, the server can tell the tenant that he or she is being served and leave them as close to the tenant as possible.

Substituted Service

If the tenant is not at home or work when the server comes, the server can give the court papers to a competent member of the household where the tenant lives or to someone in charge where the tenant works. The server must also mail a copy of the Summons and Complaint to the tenant at the address where the papers were left.

The landlord cannot use this type of service until the server tries at least 2 or 3 times, on different days and different times of the day, to serve the tenant in person. This is called "due diligence."

The server will have to fill out a form that says what days and times he or she tried to serve the tenant in person and that he or she exercised "due diligence." Service is considered complete on the 10th day after mailing the papers to the tenant.

Posting and Mailing

The landlord can only use this type of service if the court gives him or her permission. To ask the court, the server must first try to serve the tenant in person and by substituted service, and write a declaration for the court explaining that they were not successful.

If the judge lets the landlord serve by posting and mailing, the server has to post a copy of the Summons and Complaint on the property where the tenant will see it and send another copy by certified mail to the tenant at the tenant's last known address. Service is considered complete on the 10th day after mailing the papers to the tenant.

Go to the Next Step

For Tenants: The Eviction Process

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