Unlawful Detainer defendants whether it be for a commercial unlawful detainer or a residential unlawful detainer in California should prepare the following documents when responding to an unlawful detainer complaint:
1. Answer or Responsive Pleading: This document must be filed within 5 days of being served with the complaint. If the complaint was substitute served you may have more time. This is the most important documents because it protects you from losing your case by default.
2. Request to Set Case for Trial: I always recommend that even if you are the defendant you file the request to set the case for trial. Otherwise, you have no control over the scheduling of the unlawful detainer. If you take the affirmative step of requesting the court set the matter for a jury trial you not only preserve your right to a jury trial but you also protect your schedule.
3. Pay Your Jury Fees: I suggest you pay your jury fees at the same time you file your answer. The deadline for doing so occurs later in time, but the best practice is to pay your jury fees at the outset to keep your right to a jury trial. If for some reason the case settles before you call a jury, you can request a return of your jury fee deposit. The defendant should also give notice to the plaintiff that you have paid the jury fee deposit and that you are demanding a jury trial.
4. Serve Discovery: Even if all you serve is form interrogatories, serve some discovery on the plaintiff so that you can better understand the plaintiff’s reason for trying to evict you. Form Interrogatories are found on the California Court’s Forms website and they are even form interrogatories specific to unlawful detainer actions. All that the defendant needs to do is check boxes.
There are many other strategic steps a defendant in a commercial or residential unlawful detainer can take in California. Contact Schorr Law, APC for more information.
posted by Zachary D. Schorr, email@example.com, 310-954-1877