In some areas of California law, a high percentage of lawsuits involve parties trying to represent themselves because of the high cost of legal fees. Eviction lawsuits are one example where this commonly occurs. If a tenant is not paying rent, that person most likely cannot afford an attorney but will often fight an eviction lawsuit with the help of forms available from the local legal aid office. Likewise, some landlords cannot afford to hire attorneys to collect what is sometimes a relatively small amount of rent owed. Some landlords will try to handle the eviction themselves.
Eviction lawsuits are handled much more quickly than most civil lawsuits. To protect the due process rights of the tenants, eviction lawsuits (also called "unlawful detainer" actions) are subject to very strict and technical procedural rules that are difficult to follow without the assistance of legal counsel.
To assist landlords, the California Department of Consumer Affairs has developed a surprisingly informative website discussing the basic procedures of the eviction process. Although it is not meant as a substitute for qualified legal advice, it serves as a good starting part for confused landlords and tenants.
About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.