Special Announcement

Posted Friday, October 2, 2020

Landlords: The Eviction Trial (Step 6 of 7)

Eviction for Landlords: Step 6Step 1 - Give Notice Step 2 - Fill Out Forms Step 3 - File In Court Step 4 - Serve Tenant Step 5 - Tenant Responds Step 6 - Trial Step 7 - After Judgment

Once the tenant files an answer, and if you want to keep moving forward, you can ask for a trial date by filing a Request to Set Case for Trial - Unlawful Detainer (Form UD-150). On this form, you can tell the court the kind of trial you want, how long you think it will last, and what issues the judge will need to decide. You will also have to choose if you want to ask for a jury trial (read the section below on jury trials).

Keep reading to find out more about eviction trials.

Remember: At any point during the process of getting ready for trial, or even the same day of trial, you and the tenant may be able to work out an agreement and settle the case. If that happens, you will not need the trial. Read the section on Mediation & Settlement to find out more.

About a week after you file the Request to Set Case for Trial, the court clerk will mail you and the tenant information with the exact date, time and location of the trial. The trial will take place within 20 days.

If the tenant does not agree with the information in your Request to Set Case for Trial, he or she may also file and serve you with a Counter-Request (Form UD-150).

Both you and the tenant have a right to a jury trial. Talk to a lawyer about whether you should ask for a jury trial.

The side that wants the jury trial will have to give the court $150 for jury fees. If you do not have enough money, ask the clerk about a fee waiver.

If you want a jury trial, you must check the box (at item 3) on the Request to Set Case for Trial. If the tenant wants to have a jury trial and you did not ask for one, the tenant has to file and serve you with a Counter-Request (Form UD-150) or file a Demand for a Jury Trial.

The procedures in your local courthouse may be different when there is a jury trial, so make sure you know what the next step is. In some counties, there is a mandatory settlement meeting before a jury trial. Also, with a jury trial, you may need other forms like jury instructions and jury questions. Ask legal aid, self-help center, or your local law library for samples of these documents. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Get all the information related to your case. If possible take your original documents, plus 3 copies of everything you take to court. This may include papers like:

  • The lease or rental agreement;
  • The notice served on the tenant;
  • Letters you wrote or received about the rental unit;
  • Photos that show damage to the unit, if applicable;
  • Photos that show unsafe or unhealthy conditions, if applicable; and
  • Building inspection reports, if applicable.

You may also bring witnesses who have personal knowledge of the facts. If a witness is important for you to prove your case, it is best to get a subpoena issued and served on the witness to make sure he or she comes to court. Even if the witness is willing to come to court, sometimes his or her work requires that a subpoena be served on the employee to allow time off to come to court.

Also, if some emergency prevents the witness from showing up in court, you may be able to get the trial continued if the witness was subpoenaed, but a continuance will generally not be granted if the witness was not. Only a lawyer or the court clerk can issue subpoenas, so get a pre-issued subpoena from the court if you do not have a lawyer.

Remember that if you do not speak English well, you may have the right to a court interpreter appointed by the court. Ask your court if they will provide an interpreter for you AS SOON AS possible. If your court does not provide interpreters in unlawful detainer cases, you will need to bring an adult who can interpret for you. Or hire your own interpreter. If you have to bring your own interpreter, it is very important you bring someone qualified because your rights are at stake.

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, ask the court for a sign language interpreter. Courts must provide sign language interpreters, but it is important to request one at least 5 days in advance of the hearing, preferably as soon as you know your trial date. To do this, fill out and file a Request for Accommodations by Persons with Disabilities and Response (Form MC-410).

Read Going to Court to find out how to prepare for your court hearing.

The unlawful detainer trial will be at the courthouse. A judge or a commissioner will hear the case. There may be a jury if either side asked for one and posted the jury fees or was able to get them waived with a fee waiver.

For tips on how to prepare for your trial or hearing, read the section on Going to Court.

Once your case is called, the court generally has the plaintiff speak first. You will have to explain why the tenant should be evicted. The tenant will then have a chance to explain his or her side. The judge may ask both sides questions at any time and review any evidence that they present.

Listen carefully to what the judge says.

The court clerk will give or mail you a copy of a court order that says what the judge's decision is. The judge’s decision will be based on applying the law to the facts as the court decides them.

For information on how to collect any money the judge orders the landlord or the tenant to pay, read the section Collect Your Judgment.

If you (the landlord) win: If the judge or jury decides you have the right to evict the tenant, the judge will give you a Judgment of Possession. The judge or jury may also order the tenant to pay back rent, damages, and costs, like filing fees and attorney fees (if this is in the rental agreement). You may also be able to get money for the rent that you could have gotten for the rental unit while the tenant was there illegally. If the court finds the tenant only stayed in the unit to be mean, spiteful, or to make you suffer, the court may order the tenant to pay a penalty of up to $600.

  1. The court will give you a Judgment of Possession (Form UD-110). This gives you possession of the property.
  2. Then, you must fill out and have the court clerk issue a Writ of Execution (Form EJ-130) and take the writ to the sheriff. This lets the sheriff remove and lock the tenant out of the property.
  3. The sheriff will serve the tenant with a notice to vacate the property. This gives the tenant 5 days to move. If the tenant does not move, the sheriff will remove the tenant from the rental unit and lock him or her out.

If the tenant wins:
The judge may decide the tenant has the legal right to stay in the property. If so, the judge may order you to pay the tenant's costs, like filing fees and attorney fees (if this is in the rental agreement). The judge may also decide how much rent the tenant has to pay.