Special Announcement

Posted Friday, October 2, 2020

Tenants: The Eviction Trial (Step 5 of 6)

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

Once you have filed and served your Answer on the landlord, the landlord generally will request a trial date by filing a Request to Set Case for Trial - Unlawful Detainer (Form UD-150).  On this form, the landlord will tell the court (and you) what kind of trial he or she wants to ask for, how long he or she thinks it will last, and what issues need to be decided at trial. You can file this form too, either before the landlord does, or in response to the landlord’s filing (and you would check the box for “counter-request” on the form).

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

If you do not agree with the information in the landlord's Request to Set Case for Trial, you can file and serve the landlord with a Counter-Request (Form UD-150) and write in the information from your perspective.

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 landlord 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 to find out more.

Both you and the landlord 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 to have a jury trial and the landlord did not ask for one, you have to file and serve the landlord with a Counter-Request to the Request to Set Case for Trial (Form UD-150) or file a Demand for a Jury Trial (this is not a form so you have to write it up on pleading paper).

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 more 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 you were served with;
  • 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. You can request a sign language interpreter with a Request for Accommodations by People with Disabilities and Response (Form MC-410 | video instructionsvideo icon).

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.

Click for tips on how to prepare for your trial or hearing.

Once your case is called, the court generally has the plaintiff (the landlord) speak first. The landlord will have to explain why you should be evicted. You will then have a chance to explain your 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.

If You Win
The judge or jury may decide you have the legal right to stay in the property. If so, the judge or jury may order the landlord to pay your costs, like filing fees and attorney fees (if this is in the rental agreement). The judge may also decide how much rent you have to pay.

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

  1. The court will give the landlord a Judgment of Possession (Form UD-110). This gives the landlord possession of the property.
  2. Then, the landlord must fill out 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 you out of the property.
  3. The sheriff will serve you with a notice to vacate the property. This gives you 5 days to move. If you do not move, the sheriff will remove you from the rental unit and lock you out.

For Tenants: The Eviction Process