This page tells you about:
- How much time you have to file your Answer
- Which forms you need to file your Answer
- How much it costs to file an Answer to an unlawful detainer action
- Where you can get the forms to request a fee waiver and file an Answer
- What you do with the forms after you have filled them out
- What happens after you file an Answer
- How mediation can help
- What happens if you lose the trial
- What to do if you lose your trial but still need more time to stay in your housing
- What the process is to ask for a Stay
- Where you can get the forms to file a Stay
- You have five days to file your Unlawful Detainer Answer. You count the first day as the day after you were served the complaint. If the fifth day falls on a Court holiday or weekend, you have until the following day to file. (example, If you were served on Monday the 5th day is the next Monday because day 5 falls on a Saturday)
- If you do not file your Answer in the correct time, you may automatically lose your case.
See the Self-Help Forms Samples page for examples of how to complete the UD Answer form, prepared by the Court's Self-Help Center.
The fee to file an Answer to Unlawful Detainer depends on how much money your landlord is asking for. (See Local Fees page.) If you are low income, you can ask the judge not to pay the filing fee.
In order to ask the judge not to pay, you must fill out and properly file fee waiver forms.The forms are the:
- Request to Waive Court Fees (FW-001) . There are helpful video instructions for this form. See A/V instructions for FW-001 .
- Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) (FW-003) .
- You can get the forms free from your computer at:
- State Form web page
- Right here! Click on the following links to download, complete and print these fillable forms:
- Request to Waive Court Fees (FW-001) (See A/V instructions for FW-001 .)
- Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) (FW-003)
- You can get the Answer paperwork in person (free) at the Self Service Center (click for information on the Self-Help Center) in the Notre Dame Courthouse located at 99 Notre Dame Avenue.
- You might be able to get help with the Answer paperwork at one of the community agencies listed on the UD resources page.
After you have filled out the Answer paperwork, a copy must be served by mail to the other party or their attorney if they have one.
You cannot serve the papers yourself. The papers must be served by an adult (18 years or older) who is not involved in the case. The person who mails (“serves”) the paperwork must also sign the Proof of Service by First-Class Mail.
After a copy of the Answer has been mailed to the landlord or their attorney, file the original Answer and original Proof of Service at the court house where the court case was filed by the landlord.
After you file your Answer, the landlord can request a trial. Since evictions are on “fast-tracks” your trial will be scheduled in approximately 20 days.
At your trial date, you will have a chance to talk to the landlord or their lawyer if they have one.
- If you and the landlord, or their lawyer, come to an agreement, you will tell the judge.
- If you and your landlord or their lawyer cannot come to an agreement you will have your trial.
A mediator can talk to the landlord with you, if needed, to try to come up with an agreement.
You may be able to request a judgment “set aside” (cancellation) in certain cases (for example, you weren’t served the eviction papers correctly).
The set aside process is complicated so you may want to contact:
- the Self-Help Center,
- the agencies listed on the UD resources page, or
- a private attorney (check with the modest means panel of the Santa Clara County Bar Association )
There are strict timeframes to file your set aside or Notice of Appeal. A set aside or appeal will not give you extra time to stay in your housing.
Within a few days after the trial, you will receive a notice from the Sheriff giving you five days to leave your housing. If you cannot leave your housing by the fifth day you can file what is called a Request for Stay of Eviction (a “Stay”).
The Stay allows you to ask the court to remain in your housing for up to 40 more days. You have to be able to pay for each day you want to remain in the housing.
You have to ask for the Stay before the date of eviction in your Sheriff’s Eviction Notice. The Judge will not consider a Stay on the date in your notice.
You have to call your landlord or their attorney before 10:00 a.m. on the court day before you ask for your Stay. "Court day" does not include holidays or weekends. You simply tell them that you will ask for a Stay on whichever day you plan to ask for it.
Next, you have to fill out the proper paperwork to ask for the Stay. The proper format for the Stay is in Rule 3.1200 - 3.1207 in the California Rules of Court .
After you have filled out the correct paperwork, you go to the Calendar office, Room 104 at the 191 North First Street, Downtown Superior Court. You have to get to the office between 8:15 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. The times are critical.
Here is one example: If the Sheriff’s notice says you have to move out by 12:01 am on Tuesday, then:
- Your Stay hearing needs to be heard in Court no later than Monday morning, and
- If the Stay hearing is on Monday, you have to call the landlord or their attorney and give them notice by 10:00 am on Friday.
Here is a second example: If the Stay hearing is on Wednesday, you must give notice by 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday.The clerk in the Calendar Office will give you a pass to see the Judge. You will give your papers to the Judge’s clerk and he or she will give them to the Judge to decide how long they will allow you to stay in your housing. The Judge may ask you some questions about your Request for a Stay.
Payment for the Stay must be made in the Clerk’s Office on the day your Stay request is approved by 4:00 p.m. You have to pay for your Stay with cash, money order or cashier’s check. Personal checks are not allowed!
Stay paperwork is on pleading paper, meaning a customized group of forms. There is no state-approved form.
You can get the Stay paperwork in person at the Self-Help Center (click for information) located at 99 Notre Dame.
You might be able to get help with the Answer paperwork at one of the many agencies listed in the UD resources page.
More Self-Help Tenant/Landlord/UD pages on this website: