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Before we get into eviction defenses, let’s discuss Unlawful Detainers (eviction lawsuit). An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a civil court action brought by a landlord to legally evict or “remove” a tenant from a property. In California, eviction cases are called Unlawful Detainers. In other states, they may be referred by a different name such as, “summary possession,” “forcible detainer,” “ejectment,” or “repossession.” In California, evictions start when the landlord files an unlawful detainer. The unlawful detainer includes a summons and complaint. The summons is the official notice from the court notifying the defendant that they are being sued. The complaint claims the allegations or reasons why the tenant should be evicted. Claims in these types of cases are based on different types of evictions. For example, when a tenant does not pay rent, breaks the lease agreement, creates a nuisance, etc. Once a defendant is served with an eviction, they must file a response to allege or argue their eviction defense. Like other civil proceedings, there are several defenses against an eviction. The following types of defenses are the most commonly used in an eviction case.

  1. Motion to Quash: A motion to quash is used when service of the summons and complaint is not done as required by law. If the tenant was never served or was not properly served with the eviction lawsuit, a motion to quash may be filed. If the motion is successful, the landlord must re-serve the lawsuit correctly.

  2. Motion to Dismiss: If there is a defect with the summons, complaint, or any other additional documents attached to the eviction lawsuit, the defendant can file different types of motions or demurrers to dismiss the case. If the motion is successful, the court may allow the landlord to make corrections or “amend” the complaint, or even require a new case to be filed altogether.

  3. Answer: An answer is used by most litigants as to their only response to an eviction case. An answer is the fundamental eviction defense response, and at some point, it must be filed in every eviction case. It is the single most important part of the eviction defense, aside from the actual trial. Compared to the previously mentioned motions, which attack only specific segments of a UD, this response is used to state all eviction defenses. If a defense is not alleged on an Answer, it can not be raised as a defense at trial.

Remember that regardless of the defenses you decide to use, the court needs evidence in order to decide who wins the case. This evidence can be in the form of witnesses, documents, photos, videos, text messages, and anything else you can use to help you win the case. Defending yourself in an eviction case can be extremely difficult, that is why our dedicated team of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators can help you every step of the way. Call us now for a free consultation or learn more about eviction defenses in our blog.​

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