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Unlawful Detainer

Unlawful Detainer Information

For a helpful tutorial on Unlawful Detainer (Eviction), click here.

Resolving Unlawful Detainer

For information on Free Self-Help Services and Clinics available for Landlord-Tenant Cases.

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An Unlawful Detainer lawsuit is a suit brought by a landlord to obtain possession of the rented property and receive payment of back rent. In order to legally evict a tenant (remove and lock the tenant out of the property), the landlord must file an Unlawful Detainer lawsuit.

Unlawful Detainer Court Location

1130 O Street
Fresno, CA 93721-2220
Telephone: (559) 457-1900
Hours: Monday through Thursday – 8AM to 3PM and Friday 8AM to 12PM

For a map to the B.F. Sisk Courthouse location, click here.

Responding to an Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit

If you are served with an Unlawful Detainer complaint, the complaint will show the court location where you should file your answer. You have five days to respond in writing to the landlord's complaint. After you have filed your written answer to the landlord's complaint in the clerk's office and an At Issue Memorandum is filed by the plaintiff, you will both be notified by mail of the time and place of trial. There is a filing fee when you file your written answer. However, it is possible to obtain a waiver of the fee if you cannot afford to pay. In order to obtain a fee waiver, you must file an Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs at the time you file your answer. The Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs form may be obtained from the Clerk's Office.

Writs of Possession and Notices to Vacate

If the case goes to trial and the landlord wins the Unlawful Detainer lawsuit, the court will issue a judgment for possession. To enforce the judgment, the landlord will then obtain a Writ of Possession that directs the Sheriff to enforce the judgment for possession of the property. This legal document authorizes the Sheriff to physically remove and lock you out of the property. The Sheriff's cost from the eviction may be added to the judgment, which the landlord can collect from you.

The Sheriff will serve you with a Notice to Vacate the property before enforcing the Writ of Possession. After the Sheriff serves the notice, you have five days to move. If you fail to move within the five days, the Sheriff will physically remove you and turn over the possession of the property to the landlord.

Failure to respond to the Unlawful Detainer Lawsuit

The court may enter a default judgment in favor of the landlord and issue a Writ of Possession after the 5th day if you fail to respond. There is no trial if you do not file a written response to the Unlawful Detainer complaint. This default judgment allows the landlord to obtain possession of the property through a Notice to Vacate.

The Right to a Jury Trial

Both parties have the right to a jury trial. To request a jury trial, the requesting party must file a document entitled At Issue Memorandum. If one party files an At Issue Memorandum and does not request a jury trial, the other party has five days from the mailing date of the At Issue Memorandum to file a Counter At Issue Memorandum requesting a jury trial. All appearing parties will be mailed a Notice of Calendar Setting informing them of the trial date. The party requesting a jury trial will be responsible for paying the jury fee deposit which must be posted with the court five days before the trial date.

Changing a Trial Date

To change your trial date, you need to file one of the following:
  • Motion for Continuance
  • Written Stipulation (agreement by both parties) along with a declaration showing a good reason for the continuance and an order
  • A Declaration showing a good reason for the continuance and an order

The paperwork must be filed as soon as the need for a continuance is known. A filing fee is required.

Preparing for Trial

If you are not represented by an attorney, you can represent yourself. If you are representing yourself, you may want to obtain legal advice or additional information from:

Central California Legal Services, Inc.
2115 Kern Street, Suite 1
Fresno, CA 93721
(559) 570-1200

Centro La Familia Advocacy

302 Fresno Street, Suite 102

Fresno, CA 93706
(559) 237-2961

Attorney Referral & Information Service of the Fresno County Bar Assn.

2444 Main Street, Suite 125

Fresno, CA 93721
(559) 264-0137

Fair Housing Council of Central California
333 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 14
Fresno, CA 93704
(559) 244-2950

Better Business Bureau Landlord/Tenant Mediation Services
1130 O Street, Room 104
Fresno, CA 93724
(559) 457-2174

Fresno County Small Claims & Civil Advisory

2600 W. Shaw Lane

Fresno, CA 93711

(559) 457-2174

Witnesses you feel are necessary for your case should be subpoenaed for appearance in court. The subpoena must be personally served. The person served must be given reasonable notice of the date and time of trial. You should bring the proof of service to court with you. There are costs to subpoena each witness, including mileage to and from the trial location.

When you come to court on the trial date

  • Bring any letters, documents, inspection reports, photographs, or any other exhibits with you.
  • Review Unlawful Detainer Trial Exhibit Rules (located under additional links on this page).
  • Submit UD Court Trial Exhibit Form (PCV-75) (located under additional links on this page).
  • Have at least two copies of all documents: An original for the court and a copy for the opposing party to review if the parties are personally present.

For information on obtaining an interpreter, please contact the Interpreters' Office at (559) 457-4910.


If the landlord obtains a judgment against you, you will have to move. The landlord may enforce the judgment. The judgment may include the landlord's court costs and attorney fees plus any proven damages. You may appeal the judgment; however, an appeal does not automatically suspend or delay proceedings upon the judgment.

Failure to Appear at Trial

If you fail to appear for the trial, the court may enter a default judgment in favor of the landlord. The landlord will obtain a Writ of Possession that will legally authorize the Sheriff to evict you from the property.

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