What Tenants Can Do To Fight An Unlawful Detainer Action

There are many reasons why seemingly positive tenant/landlord relationships become problematic. While in some cases it may be because of the actions of the tenant, there may also be cases where a landlord simply wants a specific tenant off the property for personal or financial reasons. In these cases if the landlord files and Unlawful Detainer lawsuit against the tenant the tenant has options to fight the eviction.

There are several different ways that a tenant can respond to an Unlawful Detainer action in Los Angeles or in Long Beach. Each option is designed to address a specific issue in the Unlawful Detainer or the way that it was served. These will be provided in your Answer to the Unlawful Detainer action which has to be filed with the court within five days of being served.


The Unlawful Detainer action and the summons must contain very specific language as to the reasons for the eviction. If there is an error in those filings or if the tenant does not believe that the landlord had legal reasons for eviction they can file a demurrer. This is a document that will state why the complaint, the eviction, is not valid under the law.
If the court files in favor of the demurrer motion it will not stop the eviction process, but the landlord will have to start over and refile the Unlawful Detainer forms and repeat the process.


If the tenant has not been properly served, or if the landlord did not provide sufficient or correct notice of the eviction, the tenant can file a motion to quash. When this happens, like with the Demurrer, the judge may find in favor of the tenant or the landlord. Regardless of which party the judge agrees with, the landlord’s original complaint or the motion to quash, the eviction will still proceed but it may need to be served again by the landlord.

These methods don’t stop the Unlawful Detainer action in Los Angeles or Long Beach, but they can delay the proceedings. This may help the tenant to get financial issues in place to allow back rent to be paid, damages repaired or other issues to be correct and ultimately help prevent the immediate eviction from the property.

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