Unlawful Detainer: Definition, Example, And Process

All landlords who rent out their properties have the complete authority of removing the tenant if they violate any terms of the lease by legal process. Nowadays landlords do not have the authority to just order people off their property. They have to go by the law. 

This entire process called the unlawful detainer. In this way, the tenant also has the opportunity of taking defensive legal actions. In the law of unlawful detainer, the landlord has the liberty of charging the tenant for compensation regarding property damage or any unpaid rent.

The term unlawful detainer mainly refers to the entire court proceedings that can help the landlord get back their premises. 

Unlawful Detainer hearings come after the expiration of the lease or in cases where the tenant has been notified about eviction but does not comply.

Example: If you are renting property to someone, when the lease ends you will have to provide the tenant with the option of either leaving the premises or to enter the new lease. You can also include new rules in the new lease including any rent increase. 

So if the tenant or the person living on your premises is not signing the new contract and their contact has already ended, then you will have to take necessary actions to make them evacuate the place. So you will need to follow the eviction proceedings of property properly, and it will be registered under the label of unlawful detainer. Now the court will take actions needed if you win.


Depending on the jurisdiction of different places the steps for filing the unlawful designer case will vary. The basic actions and the steps will be similar in most states. To start the process of eviction, the owner of the property will have to provide the termination notice to the tenant. This notice will have a lifespan of 3 days, and within this time the tenant will have to either quit or pay or you can provide them with the notice of one month for vacating the premises. After the expiration of the notice, if the tenant has not moved out, the landlord will file the cases in the court that deals with civil cases.

Now the court will look into the case of the tenant and will try to provide you with the needed justice. The tenant will now need to file the written report against the complaint that has been filed in the court. If the tenant fails to provide a justified reason, then the property will be awarded back to the owner. If the unlawful detainer is providing the answer, then it will be accepted by the court, and the hearing will be scheduled, which both the parties will have to attend.

If the judgment is in favor of the landlord, then they will get the opportunity of making the tenant move out from the house. The tenant can choose to move out voluntarily, and they will get a duration of 1 to 5 days for evacuating the place. If the tenant still refuses to move out, then the judge will send deputies who will physically remove the tenant from the house.

There is a definite process that the landlord must follow for removing the tenant. Even if the person is unlawfully staying in a house, still you are not getting the right of breaking into their house without the permission. In such cases, you could be subjected to legal consequences if the other party is filing a case against you related to misplacement of their personal belongings.

About Dwight V. Bartholomew

View all posts by Dwight V. Bartholomew →