What are the necessary steps for a California eviction and how long does the process take?  Here is a brief procedural overview which includes general time estimates for completing each required phase.  As discussed below, there are many factors to consider when estimating the time it will take to complete an eviction, including the length of the initial notice, whether the eviction is contested, and the court’s workload to name a few.


The time frame for an eviction depends heavily on the type of initial notice which will be served on the tenant.  The most common Notices include the 15 Day Notice To Pay or Quit, the 3 Day Notice to Vacate, the 3 Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit, and the 30 or 60 Day Notice to Terminate the tenancy. The Notice must be served on the tenant which could add several days to this time frame, depending on difficulty involved in effectuating service.  Further, weekends and judicial holidays are not counted when computing when the Notice expires, potentially adding more days to this time periods. 

Estimate Completion Time:  3-75 days


The next phase of eviction proceedings involves filing and prosecuting an Unlawful Detainer action after the initial notice period has expired.  These proceedings commence when a copy of the lawsuit is served on your tenant.

If the Unlawful Detainer is personally served, the tenant has 5 business days to contest the case. Contesting means they are willing to go to court and fight their case. If the lawsuit was sub-served, the tenant has 15 business days to respond. If you cannot serve your tenant on 3 separate attempts, then an order to post must be obtained by the courts. You can then post a copy of the lawsuit on their front door and mail copy via certified mail. The tenant has 15 calendar days to respond.

Estimated Completion Time:  10-25 days.

Resolving An Uncontested Case By Default

If your tenant (defendant) does not file a response to the lawsuit, a Request for Entry of Default/Default Judgment will be filed and the court clerk will process that Request as soon as the court’s work load allows.

Estimated Completion Time:  5 to 10 days

Resolving A Contested Case By Trial

A tenant can contest an eviction lawsuit by filing an answer to the complaint.  Contesting the lawsuit adds substantial time to your case. Many tenants and tenant advocate groups contest their case just to try to buy time or leverage cash for keys situations.

Contested evictions are very inconvenient because you have to schedule a court date that can be anywhere between 10 – 21 days from the time of your request.

Estimated Completion Time:  10-25 days


If you (landlord/plaintiff) win your case, you will receive a signed Judgment which is required to file for the Writ of Possession. A writ of possession is a document issued by the court that gives the sheriff permission to forcibly remove the tenant from your property if they don’t abide by the time frame given to vacate.

Once the writ is issued, it is then handed to the sheriff’s department to follow their procedure of serving the notice to the tenant. If the tenant still refuses to peacefully move out, then the sheriff will forcibly remove the tenant.

Estimated Completion Time:  5-25 days.


California landlord/tenant laws heavily favor the tenants. There are tactics and tricks tenants and tenant advocate groups will deploy to make evictions even longer. Some tactics include filing demurrers, motions to strike and other motions in court to cause delays. Filing for bankruptcy protections is another tactic heavily used by tenants trying to gain leverage.  All of these tactics can add significant delay to resolution of the case.

Lynx Legal knows that time is money so we work exceptionally hard to get you through the process as fast as possible. If you have any questions about this or any other eviction matter, please call us at 1-888-441-2355 or email us at

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