How to proceed with an unlawful detainer case

Removing someone from your property can be a delicate affair. If you don't follow the proper procedures, you could be violating your tenant's rights, and you'll be the one in trouble. There are a variety of valid reasons to terminate your tenant's right to be on your property. It could be that they aren't paying the rent on time. They could be breaking the terms of the lease by having pets or unauthorized people on the premises. Or they might be conducting illegal activities on the property such as selling drugs.

In all of these cases, you're within your rights to have them evicted. Your first step is to give notice to your tenant that they are in violation. If they don't rectify the situation, you'll need to start what's called an unlawful detainer action. To do this, you'll pay a small fee and file the paperwork with the local court.

In most cases, the court will set a date for a hearing. The tenant may be required to respond to the hearing in writing. If they fail to do so or they don't show up, you can win the case by default. If they do respond and come to the hearing, the tenant will have the chance to defend themselves, and you'll be able to make your case.

If successful, the tenant will be forcibly removed, and you could be entitled to a monetary judgment to cover attorney fees, back rent and more. The eviction process can be complicated, so it may be in your best interests to speak with an attorney before getting started.

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