Unlawful Detainer

From time to time, a dog attack leads to an unlawful detainer case, otherwise known as an “eviction.” The Web contains much good information for tenants and landlords who are involved in (or are considering) eviction.

For example, the Ventura Superior Court has published a good checklist of requirements for a California eviction, entitled Intake Assessment/Triage in Unlawful Detainer Cases.

It is important to note that evictions require perfection on the part of the landlord. Using the wrong forms, filling them in incorrectly, failing to serve the paperwork on the tenant properly, and a host of other defects can make the eviction fail. Therefore landlords and tenants are advised to retain a good attorney when the prospect of an eviction arises.

For example, the three-day notice to pay or “quit” (i.e., surrender the premises to the landlord) must be served on the tenant exactly as provided by statute. The California statute (Code of Civil Procedure secton 1162) states the following:

The notices required by Sections 1161 and 1161a may be served, either:

1. By delivering a copy to the tenant personally; or,

2. If he or she is absent from his or her place of residence, and from his or her usual place of business, by leaving a copy with some person of suitable age and discretion at either place, and sending a copy through the mail addressed to the tenant at his or her place of residence; or,

3. If such place of residence and business can not be ascertained, or a person of suitable age or discretion there can not be found, then by affixing a copy in a conspicuous place on the property, and also delivering a copy to a person there residing, if such person can be found; and also sending a copy through the mail addressed to the tenant at the place where the property is situated. Service upon a subtenant may be made in the same manner.

If the landlord knocks on the tenant’s door and there is no answer, section 1162 requires that the notice be affixed in a conspicuous place and also mailed. Leaving it on the door is insufficient. The three-day period to pay or quit begins running from the first day that the notice was mailed (if it was posted before it was mailed), or the first day that it was posted (if it was mailed before it was posted). Walters v. Meyers (1990) 226 Cal.App.3d Supp. 15, 19-20 [277 Cal.Rptr. 316, 318-319] (service of a three-day notice is effective from the date the notice is mailed, not from the date the tenant received it). See California Practice Guide, Landlord-Tenant, Paragraphs 7:186-7:188.2 (Rutter Group 2005) (mailing three-day notice does not extend time to respond).