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Beware of Unexpected Delays in Unlawful Detainer Proceedings

Unlawful detainers are already fraught with procedural pitfalls and now due to budget cuts and an increase in “pro per” litigants, landlords face additional delays and difficulties in removing tenants that refuse to pay. The old saying “time is money” holds especially true in unlawful detainers where the amount of time a property sits with an unpaying tenant directly impacts the owner’s bottom line.

In several recent unlawful detainer cases, including several handled by this firm, defendants have declined to appear at hearings and instead requested continuances based on feigned sickness or injury. Without a competent attorney available to argue against such a delay, these continuances are often summarily granted resulting in a delayed eviction process. Such requests are even more prevalent with pro per litigants who are often granted much more leniency in the courtroom and are not as likely to be sanctioned for inappropriate conduct.

Recently, there has been an increase in “removal actions” by pro per litigants to stall the unlawful detainer process. In such a scenario, the defendant will file a motion to remove the case from state court to federal court. Even if the removal action is completely baseless, the case in state court is completely halted until the federal court can review the action, and “remand” or send it back to the state court. It is important to have an attorney who is familiar with these removal actions and can assist in expediting the remand process to get the unlawful detainer action back into state court where it will ultimately be resolved.

Budget cuts and lack of funding at the trial court level has substantially increased processing times even for expedited filings (e.g., Judgment or Writ of Possession). Regardless of whether you are a commercial or residential landlord, it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with the local court timelines and will follow-up with court staff to expedite the process on your behalf. The attorneys at The Loftin Firm have a wide range of experience dealing with the delay tactics tenants use to avoid eviction and are prepared to execute unlawful detainer actions in the most efficient way possible.

Liam Perry is an Associate Attorney at The Loftin Firm. For questions relating to this blog post or any other California real estate, land use, corporate, or estate planning matter, contact The Loftin Firm at 760-814-9649.