Our Los Angeles unlawful detainer attorneys are very familiar with trial setting in unlawful detainer or eviction actions. The California Unlawful Detainer statutes mandate that a trial can be set as soon as the case is “at issue”. At issue is defined generally as answering or filing a demurrer. (Code of Civil Procedure section 1170, 1170.5).
In our experience, however, few plaintiff’s counsel actually request a trial after a demurrer is filed. This is true because some judges think that filing a demurrer (which is an attack on the allegations in the complaint) does not really put the case at issue. So what does this mean? It means that if you are a defendant you should not overlook the opportunity to file a demurrer if you have a valid legal basis for filing one. Filing a demurrer can test the validity of the plaintiff landlord’s allegations which is generally not a bad thing. It may also delay your trial date. Note, you should never file a demurrer for the sole purpose of delaying the trial date, you should only file it if you have a valid legal basis for doing so.
If you plan to file a demurrer, the timing is key. A demurrer must be filed at the outset of the case. That means that you must file at the time your answer would otherwise be due – which is just 5 days after service. This is very quick so if you plan to hire an unlawful detainer lawyer you would need to contact someone immediately. For a greater discussion of this issues and other ways to defend your unlawful detainer consider buying our ebook.