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Preparing Your Defense Against An Unlawful Detainer

A notice to quit the premises is nothing to mock at. A tenant should never ignore it, particularly if he or she feels the landlord is at fault. If, after receipt of the notice, followed by the filing of an unlawful detainer in Los Angeles court, you wish to contest the assertions and actions of the landlord, you will have to do so in person and in court. It is important you are prepared to present your case when the day arrives.

Preparation Is The Key

If you are serious about contesting your eviction, it is essential you be completely prepared. You need to prepare your case or allow a lawyer to help you do so. There are many things you need to comply and compile before you have your hearing. Take them one-at-a-time but make sure you cover every possibility.

Before You Go To Court

The preparation work begins as soon as, if not before, you receive the summons to the hearing and an explanation of the complaint. At this point, it is critical you understand the shortness of the period between the serving and the hearing. It is, in fact, only five days. During this time you must:

  • Read the specifics – including time of the hearing and place. If you are in Los Angeles, the courtroom assigned will differ from that for Long Beach.
  • Pay Attention – read the specifics of the complaints very carefully. It will summarize why the landlord is evicting you. You need to understand this in order to be able to refute it
  • Consult a professional – you can turn to legal aid, a housing specialist, a clinic on tenant rights and defenses. Ask questions about possible defenses against an unlawful detainer and how to address the issues supplied by the landlord
  • Act professionally – request discovery the evidence the landlord is submitting, prepare a brief, compile any additional material – visual, audio, witnesses, photographs, cell phone texts or other related items to help support your defense. Make copies of the material to hand out in court. Be sure the original is reserved for the judge
  • Legal Defense – if you have arrived at a legal defense against your landlord’s claims e.g. demurrer, you need to record it and file it by the final day of your five day grace period. Failure to do so will not allow you to entertain them in court

If you wish, you can always forgo a judge for a jury. Make sure this is the right mode for your case before you request it. Usually, if you do not have a lawyer, this is not recommended. If you do, you can still opt for a judge. Whatever your decision, make sure you come prepared to face the complaints filed in an unlawful detainer in Long Beach or Los Angeles. Being prepared is the best way to give you a fighting chance against a disagreeable landlord.