A UD action has all of the trappings of a regular civil action—filing of a complaint, issuance of a summons, service on the defendant, filing of a responsive pleading, discovery period, and so on. There are some distinct differences, however—primarily due to a compressed timeline, which can result in an unlawful detainer’s being completed in a month rather than the year that is typical for limited civil actions. The main differences are:
- The defendant has only 5 days after service of the summons and complaint to appear and file a responsive pleading, in contrast to the typical 30-day time period. [CCP §1167.]
- The proceeding is given legal precedence over all other civil actions so that it can be quickly heard and determined. [CCP §1179a.]
- The defendant has no right to file a cross-complaint or counterclaim because possession is the only issue being litigated in a UD action. [Vella v Hudgins (1977) 20 C3d 251, 255.]
- The only responsive pleadings that a defendant may file are an answer, a demurrer, and a motion to quash service of the summons. [CCP §§418.10(a), 1170.]
- A motion to quash must be heard within 3 to 7 days after notice [CCP §1167.4] and a motion for summary judgment within 5 days after notice [CCP §1170.7].
- An unlawful detainer trial must be set no later than 20 days after the filing of a memorandum to set trial. [CCP §1170.5(a).] Typically, in a simple UD action, the landlord files a memo to set as soon as the tenant files an answer to the complaint.
- Any extension of time that you grant may not exceed 10 days unless you have the adverse party’s consent. [CCP §1167.5.]
- Unlawful detainer proceedings are exempt from judicial arbitration. [CRC 3.811(b)(4).]
- You have the discretion to issue a stay on appeal. [CCP §1176.]
- Economic litigation procedures affecting limited civil actions do not apply to UD proceedings. [CCP §91(b).]
Click here for a chart of summary procedures for UD actions.
To take advantage of the UD summary proceeding, a landlord must comply strictly with all of the applicable statutory requirements of the action. [See Berry v Society of Saint Pius X (1999) 69 CA4th 354, 363.]