Hello, I am John Feely. My office is located in Long Beach, California,
and we handle a lot of evictions (also known as Unlawful Detainers).
We have many clients, residential and commercial who are based throughout
Southern California; mainly Long Beach, Norwalk, Torrance, San Pedro,
Lakewood, Lynwood and other cities in and around Long Beach.
Many of my clients have questions for me regarding the eviction process,
especially regarding the eviction timeline after the tenant has been served
with the Unlawful Detainer complaint. Here are some of the most common
ones with some helpful answers:
My tenants were personally served with the Unlawful Detainer Complaint….
What happens next?
If your tenants were personally served with the Unlawful Detainer Complaint,
they have 5 days to file a response with the court. This information is
stated on the Summons, which was given to them when they were served with
the Complaint by the Process Server. This means that the tenant would
go to court and file a response with the court which is usually an answer.
If they do this within 5 days of being served, your Unlawful Detainer
case is now
contested. After it is contested, I will request from the court a trial date. In Unlawful
Detainers, this happens rather quickly and according to law is supposed
to be set 20 days of the request. The trial date comes in the mail to
my office and to the office or home of the opposing counsel or tenant.
Once we have a date, usually myself or if I’m unavailable one of
my colleagues will go to court for your trial and judgment will be entered.
What happens if you can’t personally serve the tenants?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to locate the tenants. Tenants often hide
out and will not answer the door if they know they have an eviction law
suit coming. If the process server is unable to personally serve the tenants
after “due diligence”, which is usually about 3-4 attempts,
the tenants will be served through substituted service with the Unlawful
Detainer complaint. This means that the process server will leave a copy
of the complaint with someone else at the residence of suitable age and
discretion and then mail a copy to the tenant. In this situation, the
tenant will have 15 days to answer, instead of the regular 5 days. Unfortunately,
there is no way to circumvent and speed up the process on a tenant that
is refusing service. The process server cannot resort to trespassing in
order to effectuate service.
What happens if the tenant cannot be served by substituted service?
Worst case scenario, after the server tries around 6 or 7 times at personal
service they will return to my office with a log detailing their attempts.
If both personal service and substituted service are not options, I have
to take the process servers declaration to the court and get an order
to post the summons and complaint from the judge or commissioner of the
Superior Court where the lawsuit is filed. Once the judge signs this order
the process server is allowed to post and mail a copy of the summons and
complaint. In this case service is completed 10 days after the process
server posts and mails the complaint. If the tenant doesn’t answer
within this 10 day period, I can request that the court enter a default judgment.
What happens if the tenant is served but they do not answer or file a response
with the court after getting served?
If the tenant doesn’t respond or answer, a default judgment may be
entered against them. After a judgment is entered claiming that the plaintiff
(or Landlord) is entitled to the premises, a Writ of Possession will be
submitted to the court. The writ of possession is the document that the
court stamps which is given to the Sheriff to perform the lockout.
Why does it sometimes take so long for the Writ to be issued back from
The courts in California, and especially the Unlawful Detainer courts can
be especially backed up just due to the sheer number of cases that are
filed. Also, many courts in Los Angeles County have actually closed and
consolidated. Evictions are serious lawsuits but budget cuts to the courts
have made it tough. Currently unlawful detainers take longer than they
ever used to and unfortunately there is no current remedy to this problem.