What is the best way to serve unlawful detainer complaint and summons to tenants?

8 Replies

Does anyone have a good recommendation for the method of serving unlawful detainer complaints and summons to my tenants?  There is a husband/wife and friend, 3 people, on the lease.  I understand if all tenants and not served in person that they get an additional 10 days to respond (instead of the 5).  I really want to get default or to court ASAP.  The sheriff would have the best impact to serve but my concern is that the courthouse sheriff dept. may simply be a 8-5 operation and that all tenants may not be home.  Will the sheriff serving them simply try up to 3 times at his/her convenience or will the sheriff consider the best time to approach when everyone is home?  I'l appreciate other landlord's experience here and whether they use the sheriff or other serving person, one who may be more strategic in serving all tenants in person.

thanks for any advice.


unlawful detaining of an individual sounds like kidnapping... definitely get the authorities involved.



Good link here; Unlawful Detainer http://www.scscourt.org/self_help/civil/ud/ud_home...

California related, but great information for folks buying occupied homes at auction.

Get a publishers clearing house banner and attach it to your car , show up with a camera and knock on the door ,  When everyone comes out have them on tape ask them their names and then hand them the court papers .

The best way is to use the sheriff They have 3 times to try to serve if not they use substitute service I assume you served the 3 days notice to quit Any mistakes can delay your petition. Best to use a lawyers service If you are an LLC or corporation use must use a lawyer The cost with fees is about $850-1000


I used the Sheriff and they were awesome!  They went early in the morning to get the couple at  home and went to the third persons, who already moved out, at their place of work.  I later spoke to the Sheriff and he really thought about the best way to get them served and went out of his way to get it done.  

I won the unlawful detainer by default because nobody countered it.  The Sheriff posted the home with the notice to vacate within a certain date.  The Sheriff gave me a date a few days after that to meet them at the home with keys.  At that date if they were still there the Sheriff would physically remove them and I had to be there to secure the home.  I didn't need to meet the Sheriff because they vacated on their deadline.

So it was a victory getting my house back but I still have the chore of getting paid for the missed rent, legal fees, and lost income (time it took to rent again).  It's been over 6 months of paperwork attempts with the court system for them to go after my money since I won by default.  This is where the court system is letting me down with endless trivial paper corrections one after another.  I think if I want to pursue this money I will have to start over with a small claims case.  

Does anyone have experience with this whole process to the end of getting paid through the court system?

The whole process was a pain but a good experience to have gone through being a landlord.  The biggest lesson for me was to getting into this situation by not following the rules when screening.  

@Ron Takeda My preference: delegate all U/D matters to a law firm specializing in same. 

I use a law firm in Glendora, CA who sends  3 Day NTQ and/or Summons+Complaint via attorney service over their letterhead. It lets the recipient know I'm "locked and loaded" and have already spent $150 for the service. 

Your local apartment owners association will have names of eviction law firms that serve Santa Barbara county and surrounding area. Referrals are always preferrable to blind advertisements. 

Unless you think your time is only worth $15/hr, hire it out. 

Rick, what does the entire process cost you?  NTQ, Serving, Hearing and Writ?

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