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Before You File

Before Filing an Unlawful Detainer Action

How Mediation Can Help

Before beginning this process, you should try to talk to the tenant, with a mediator if needed, to come up with an agreement. Resolving your action without filing a court case may save you time, money, and damages. A tenant may not cooperate or agree to mediation, however.

Giving Notice

In order to start the eviction process, you, as the landlord, must first give the tenant written notice. If the tenant does not do what the notice asks, you may file an unlawful detainer case in court when the notice period ends.

Sometimes figuring out what type of notice is needed may be difficult. Talk to an eviction lawyer to make sure you are using the right notice and that you are filling it out correctly. Make sure the form you use meets the requirements of current California law, because if there are mistakes in the notice, you might lose the case. The different types of notices can be found online, office supply stores, or some attorney websites that specialize in Unlawful Detainers.

Go to the California Courts Guide For Landlords to learn about:

  • The different types of notices
  • When notice is not required
  • How to give notice
  • After giving notice

The California Department of Consumer Affairs also has information on giving notice.

How to Get More Information

Figuring out the correct notice, completing it, and serving it correctly may be complicated. You may lose your court case if the judge determines that your notice is defective. The court’s Self-Help Center staff can provide you with general information; however, you may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in Unlawful Detainers. The cost of an attorney may be cheaper than the additional rent and damages you lose if your case is delayed or dismissed for a legal defect.

You can find the location of the Self-Help Centers, Lawyer Referral Services, and online resources about landlord-tenant law on the General Information page of the section of the website.

Next Step

Go to the Preparing The Unlawful Detainer Complaint page.

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