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For many landlords, the amount of time they can expect a residential eviction to take is the foremost question on their mind when a tenant overstays their lease or when other serious issues arise. This is a common question for which the answer depends on a number of factors including the fact that the landlord’s bottom line can be significantly affected by tenant who refuses to respect the terms set forth in the lease. The California landlord tenant lawyer of the NewPoint Law Group can work to remove tenants who fail to pay rent, create a danger for other tenants, who destroy the premises, or who engage in a range of other unwanted behaviors.

What Are the Steps in a California Unlawful Detainer Action?

The first step in the timeline is the duration of the notice, whether it is a 3-Day Notice, a 30-Day Notice, a 60-Day Notice, or some other notice in excess of 60 days. The amount of time may vary in terms of when a decision is made to provide the notice, and the date by which the notice is actually prepared and served to a tenant.  In addition, landlords must wait a certain period of time before their tenants’ failure to comply with the notice is reason enough to file an unlawful detainer lawsuit.  Each facet of the process depends on length of time, even after a landlord has filed a suit: the wait for a sheriff to post a writ of possession, and the countdown before the tenant ultimately leaves, either on their own or by force after a certain number of days.

Each of these “How long?” questions depend on how quickly or aggressively the landlord and his/her attorney take action while they still have the advantage, whether the tenant takes certain actions to buy more time, and to a certain extent, how quickly the court and the sheriff process the paper.

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How Long Can It Take to Remove a Residential Tenant Through an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit?

In a best-case scenario for the landlord, the tenant may surrender the keys and voluntarily move out once the notice is served. Thus, the tenant would be out in three days or the period stated in the notice.  If the filing of an unlawful detainer lawsuit becomes necessary, it is timely processed and served, the tenant does not respond to the lawsuit, and a clerk’s judgment for possession is entered and a writ of possession is immediately issued and served by the Sheriff, the landlord might expect to receive possession within approximately 16 days from when the 3-Day Notice was originally served on the tenant. Slight delays of a day or two in these steps may give the tenant an additional five days.  If the tenant is timely served with the summons and complaint, and timely files an answer and the landlord timely requests a trial date, the process, including trial, usually takes an additional three to four weeks.  Thus, it often takes four to six weeks to lawfully gain possession with an eviction based upon a 3-Day Notice.

Under one common scenario, it can take more than six weeks to take possession if the tenants evade personal service of the summons and complaint. If the process server is unable to personally serve the summons and complaint after a reasonable number of attempts, the landlord must apply to the Court to obtain an order authorizing services of the summons and complaint by posting (on the front door), and mailing the summons and complaint. This process may consume an extra 20 to 25 days. Under this scenario, it will likely take in excess of two months to legally remove the tenants through the process.

The bottom line is that the landlord cannot control certain factors in this process affected by the tenant’s conduct. However, the landlord does have control over certain aspects when she or he has time or circumstance in their favor. We have found that landlords will achieve lawful possession sooner if they have an experienced unlawful detainer attorney guiding them through the process. That is to say, the sooner the landlord obtains possession, the sooner he will be able to rent the property out from a paying tenant.

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Work with a Strategic and Aggressive Sacramento Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Landlords should engage with a careful and strategic attorney who can minimize the risk that a mistake or some foreseeable factor under the landlord’s control derails an unlawful detainer action. The landlord tenant law attorneys at NewPoint Law Group, LLP are experienced in unlawful detainer matters and will employ all reasonable steps and measures to take possession sooner rather than later. To schedule a confidential consultation, call our firm at 1-800-358-0305.

Be sure to check out our Unlawful Retainer Blog Series for further information: