Often times clients will wonder why I recommend settlement in their unlawful
detainer case. This post is to clarify why, in most cases, I believe professionally
it is usually the best case to settle an unlawful detainer rather than
take the case to trial.
Settling cases saves my clients money and time in th majority of evictions
that I handle. On the day of trial my clients have already (usually) paid
me for one half day of trial. If I don't settle the case before trial
begins my clients as well as myself may be stuck in the court all day
waiting to be heard. If trial begins, in certain instances, it could last
well over a day. My client is often times missing valuable work time and
I must bill for an entire day of trial being that I have spent an entire
day of my time waiting to be heard by the honorable judges presiding in
our over crowded court system.
With a settlement of the case I can ask for a larger money judgment than
a judge can allow and I can give the defendant tenant an incentive to
pay the back rent over time. This ensures that my client gets their rent
back as well as the premesis. If I take the case to trial the judge will
issue a judgment and getting a tenant defendant to pay will take extensive
Sometimes the tenants want to stay an extra week. Great! They can pay for
it. The sheriff NEVER comes in a week or even two these days. Call any
sheriff department in Los Angeles or Orange County and ask how long it
is taking perform lockouts. They won't lie. The courts are crowded
and so are the Sheriff's departments who serve this great state. Unfortunately,
even in the worst eviction the Sherriff's department does not have
enough deputies to process the number of evictions coming in. Settlment
does NOT delay the eviction at all with how backed up the sheriffs are
at enforcing the judgment by going out to post and then remove the occupants.
Also, settlment lets me get back to my office to prepare the application
for writ and writ of possession. This is the document that I send to the
sheriff to enforce the eviction. By settling I can have it prepared the
same day and enforce the eviction much quicker. If I get back to the office
once court has closed. Lockout will be delayed another day. In my large
commercial cases this one day delay could equate to a loss of thousands
When a case settles it prohibits continuances. Few things are worse than
when a judge allows a tenant a continuance. Continuing the case costs
time and money. I never ask for a continuance. Tenants always ask for
a continuance based on the "evidence" they left at home. Some
judges grant them. By settling, everyone can go home knowing that no further
court hearings are necessary.
Settling the case also stops motions for new trial, appeals, and stays
of execution. If I settle a case for my client the defendant tenant has
agreed to leave by a certain date. If I take it to trial the tenant likely
will either move for a new trial or ask the judge to stay the execution
of a judgment (delay the eviction based on hardship). I have personally
had a judge stay execution of a judgment after the sheriff had already
posted for one entire month without having the tenant pay any rent. In
that case the tenant was a convicted felon who was damaging the property.
Neverthless, when the judge decides your case he or she can do what he
wants. If you don't like that, you can appeal it but that of course
would cost you more time and more money.
Settling also prohibits bizarre jury or judges verdicts. I had one case
where the tenant raised the implied warranty of habitability as a defense.
When it was her time to testify she showed a broken light bulb to the
trial court. My client and I looked at each other and laughed, both logically
believing that the light bulb did not constitute a substantial breach
of the implied warranty of habitability. The couort however disagreed!
The judge ordered a rent reduction of $50 based on the alleged breach
and ordered the tenant to pay the reduced back rent of over $2000 in open
court in 5 days. My client and I came back to court five days later. The
tenant failed to appear because the real reason the tenant was being evicted
was because they couldn't afford to pay the rent in the first place,
the residence was pristine. After the tenant failed to appear and pay
the judge reversed the ruling and my client won. Neverthless, it was a
waste of time and another 5 days delaying the lockout costing my client
valuable rent money.