At the Law Offices of James Coy Driscoll, we help tenants who may be facing evictions. Our firm is located in San Francisco, and we serve neighborhoods throughout the cities and in nearby communities.
Contact our experienced San Francisco eviction defense attorney today for a free confidential consultation.
Act Early To Assert Your Rights
The key to the successful defense of an eviction lawsuit (called an unlawful detainer) is to act early. A tenant hiring a lawyer as soon as she gets a notice to quit (a landlord's eviction notice) has the advantage of having up to 60 days for her attorney to investigate the matter and try to settle the case.
Often, settlements can exceed the monetary limitations imposed by rent control. For example, we have settled several cases in excess of $100,000.00. There is no guarantee as to your results. The settlement amount will vary with the facts and circumstances of a particular case. You should hire a skillful attorney to represent your interests in any settlement discussions.
Responding To A Lawsuit Against You
Here is a brief overview of the steps in an eviction proceeding. The first thing the landlord must do is give the tenant notice to move out (a three-, 30-, or 60-day notice). If the tenant does not move out, the landlord must then file a lawsuit (an unlawful detainer) and serve a copy of the lawsuit on the tenant. The tenant then has only five calendar days to respond to the lawsuit. If the tenant does not respond in time and in the proper written format, she can be evicted without ever being heard in court.
The response to a summons and complaint must be filed with the court. The response must be either a properly drafted pleading (legal document) or a properly completed form answer. A letter or phone call will not be enough.
Tenants who are not familiar with this process can harm their chances of winning their cases. By simply filling out a form answer at the court clerk's office, a tenant may give up various defenses to the eviction lawsuit. In addition, other responses such as a demurrer or a motion to strike may end the litigation or give the tenant's attorney time to complete their investigation.
Preparing Your Defense
Once the tenant's attorney files the response to the complaint, the attorney can request written discovery (send questions and requests for documents to the landlord to be answered under penalty of perjury). The tenant's attorney can also require the landlord to appear for a deposition (answer questions under oath) regarding the case. This helps the tenant's lawyer prepare a defense to the eviction lawsuit.
The tenant has a right to have the case heard by a judge, and if she wants, by a jury. Trial by jury means that ordinary people get to hear the tenant's story and decide who wins. Many tenants feel this is better than just having a judge hear the case.
Contact A Bay Area Landlord Tenant Attorney
For more information about how we can help you with your eviction defense case, call the Law Offices of James Coy Driscoll at (415) 523-5591 or contact our tenants' rights attorney online. The initial telephone consultation is free of charge.