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Your Legal Corner - Client Alert Blog

California Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) Cases Will Now Be Sealed.

Written By: Melissa C. Marsh, Esq., California Attorney, January 2017 Add to Favorites

Under the present law, if a landlord files an unlawful detainer (eviction) action against a tenant, the record of said action is masked (sealed) for a period of 60 days, at which time the record becomes public and is available to credit agencies, landlord registries, and screening companies unless (i) the landlord and tenant enter into a settlement agreement requesting the record to be sealed, or (ii) the tenant prevails and asks the judge to seal the record. The law, as it previously existed, gave tenants with legitimate defenses to an eviction an incentive to promptly file an answer to an unlawful detainer to ensure the record remained sealed.

Effective January 1, 2017, Assembly Bill (AB) 2819, codified in California Code of Civil Procedure 1161.2 and 1167.1., automatically and permanently seals all limited unlawful detainer (eviction) actions, unless the landlord prevails at a trial within 60 days of filing the complaint, or within 60 days of the date a default judgment was set aside. Even if a landlord prevails in a limited unlawful detainer proceeding at trial, if the eviction action takes more than 60 days to conclude, the landlord will need to ask the court to issue an order allowing public access to the record.

The new law also specifically authorizes a court to seal the court record if the parties stipulate to such. Consequently, more tenants will request that the record be sealed as a condition of settlement.

Finally the new law, codified in California Code of Civil Procedure 1167.1, allows a court to dismiss an unlawful detainer (eviction) action without prejudice, if the plaintiff fails to file a proof of service of the summons within 60 days of filing the complaint.

As the majority of unlawful detainer actions take more than 60 days to litigate from filing the complaint to judgment, the majority of all unlawful detainer actions will now be permanently sealed, even if the landlord prevails at trial.

Unfortunately, this new law will have major unintended consequences. Requiring property owners to obtain a judgment within 60 days to unseal an eviction removes one of the primary incentives landlords have relied upon to get tenants to settle their cases before trial. The new law further encourages tenants to file frivolous motions at the onset of the case merely to force a delay in the eviction proceedings, which in turn will force landlords to spend more money and time (lost rent) to oppose and dispel of these motions.

Tags: California eviction, los angeles tenant eviction
Posted In: Real Estate Reporter 

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site was prepared by Melissa C. Marsh for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided in my articles and alerts should not be relied upon, or used as a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney you retain to advise or represent you. Your use of this Internet site does not create an attorney- client relationship. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. You may print or email a copy of any information posted on this web site for your own personal, non-commercial, use, but you may not publish any of the articles or posts on this web site without the Express Written Permission of Melissa C. Marsh.

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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.