Before a legal action is filed

The landlord must begin the eviction process by giving you an appropriate written notice. This notice may either be a 3-day, 30-day or 60-day depending on the reason for eviction. If you do not move out by the end of the period stated in the notice, the landlord can begin the legal process by filing a Complaint with the court.


After the landlord has filed the paperwork with the court, you will be served with the Summons and Complaint. Usually this involves a process server or a deputy sheriff personally handing you this paperwork. There are, however, other means of service. If you have questions regarding service contact a legal advisor.

Once you have been served, you normally have only five (5) calendar days to file a response with the court located at A. F. Bray Courthouse. This may be an Answer or other legal pleading. Forms are available at no charge through the Judicial Council - external link or in the lobby of the Unlawful Detainer Department. You will need to pay the appropriate filing fees. You may apply for a waiver of court fees and costs if you cannot afford to pay. Failure to take timely action will result in a default judgment being entered against you and the eviction process will move forward.

If You File a Response to the Complaint

You should seek legal advice to determine the appropriate response which you should file with the court. After the response is filed, the landlord will file additional paperwork with the court and a trial date will be set. The court will mail you a notice about the trial date once it has been scheduled.

If You Do Not File a Response to the Complaint

If you fail to respond to the Complaint the landlord may Request to Enter Default; obtain a Clerk's Judgment for Possession, and request a Writ of Possession be issued for the premises. After the documents are filed, the landlord must have the Writ of Possession served by the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department, Civil Division to complete the eviction. The landlord cannot evict you without the sheriff.

Preparing for Trial

Gather all of the information that relates to your case. This may include witness or paperwork such as the following:

  • A copy of the lease or rental agreement
  • Any letters you may have written or received about the property
  • Any receipts you have
  • Any inspection reports such as reports from the building inspector or health department
  • Photographs
  • Police reports
  • Any other documents that you think will help you convince the judge that you should not be evicted.

You will need to bring three copies of each paper with you: one for the judge, one for the landlord and one for yourself. Copies submitted to the judge will not be returned. Organize your paperwork prior to arrive to court so that you can easily find what you need when you are in the courtroom. You may want to make notes for yourself so that you don't forget to tell the judge something that you think is important.

Presenting Your Case in Court

Unlawful Detainer cases will usually be heard in the A. F. Bray Courthouse. Try to arrive a few minutes before your case is scheduled to be heard. Several cases will be set for the same time period, so you may have to wait your turn.

The clerk will take roll to see who is present before the judge comes into the courtroom. You will be given an opportunity to meet with a mediator who may help you reach an agreement with the tenant without having to wait for the judge.

The judge will usually tell you what the court's decision is at the end of the trial. If you do not hear what is said or do not understand something, you may want to ask, "Your Honor, could you explain what you just said?"

Sometimes the judge will want to think about your case or research the law before making a decision. In this case, the judge may take the case under submission. When a decision has been made, the court will send a written decision to all of the parties.

Post Trial Procedures

After court trial, the court clerk will prepare a formal judgment and mail notices of entry of judgment to all parties.

The landlord may request a Writ of Possession to be issued from the court and deliver the Writ to the Sheriff's Department to proceed wit the lockout. A deputy will post notice, giving you (5) days to vacate the property. At this time you may seek legal advice if you feel you need additional time. There are a number of resources available in the community which may be able to assist you in finding new housing. These agencies are listed in the Community Resources section of this site.

Appealing a decision in an Unlawful Detainer action must be filed at the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse.


There are a number of resources available in the community which may be able to assist you. These agencies are listed in the Community Resources section of this site.

The court provides interpreters for Unlawful Detainer matters. Please contact the Bray Court to make the necessary arrangements.

The court provides accommodations for persons with disabilities upon request.