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Small Claims & Unlawful Detainers




Small Claims Forms:

The most frequently used Small Claims forms, and
information on small claims procedures, are available for download here:

Small Claims Self-Help Packet (ZIP)
- This packet contains these forms (click)
  1. SC - Locate person
  2. SC - Naming
  3. SC - Statute of Limitations
  4. SC-150 - Information For a Small Claims Plaintiff
  5. SC-100 - Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court
  6. SC-100a - Other Plaintiffs or Defendants
  7. SC-103 - Fictitious Business Name
  8. SC-109 - Authorization to Appear
  9. SC-104 - Proof of Service
  10. SC-104b - What Is "Proof of Service"?
  11. SC-104c - How to Serve a Business or Public Entity
Further information on Small Claims, as well as all Small Claims forms,
can be found at the California Courts Self-Help Website.

Unlawful Detainer Forms:

The forms a landlord needs in order to start the Unlawful Detainer process,
AFTER the proper eviction notice has been served on the tenant, can be
downloaded here:
Unlawful Detainer Complaint packet for landlords
- This packet requires these forms (click)

Forms for tenants who wish to file an Answer in response to an Unlawful
Detainer can be downloaded here:
Unlawful Detainer Answer packet for tenants
For assistance with completing these forms, please contact the Civil
Self-Help Center
.

Small Claims Frequently Asked Questions

What is small claims court?

Small claims court is a special court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. The rules are simple and informal. The person who sues is called the plaintiff. The person who is sued is called the defendant.

Who can sue in small claims court?

Any mentally competent person who is:
    18 years old or older, OR
    an emancipated child.

If you are:
    not mentally competent, OR
    under 18 years old (and not emancipated)

a judge must appoint an adult called a guardian ad litem to represent you in small claims court.

How much money can I ask for?

An individual cannot ask for more than $10,000 in a claim. Corporations and other entities (like, government entities) cannot ask for more than $5,000. You can file as many claims as you want for up to $2,500 each. But you can only file 2 claims in a calendar year that ask for more than $2,500.

You can only sue a guarantor for up to $4,000 ($2,500 if they don't charge for the guarantee). A "guarantor" is a person who promises to be responsible for what another person owes.

Do I have to pay to file?

Yes, unless you qualify for a Fee Waiver. The fee is based on the amount of your claim and the number of claims you have filed in the past 12 months: If you have filed 12 or fewer claims in the past 12 months:

Amount of your claim: Filing Fee:
$0 to $1500 $30
$1500.01 to $5,000 $50
$5000.01 to $7,500 $75


If you have filed more than 12 claims in the past 12 months, the filing fee is $100 (for any claim amount). If you are low-income, you may be able to qualify for a fee waiver and not have to pay a filing fee. Fee Waiver forms and information can be found here.

Where can I get help with my small claims case?

o A small claims clinic is held every Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Court's Self-Help Center located in Room 305 of the Eureka courthouse. Individual assistance is provided on a first come, first serve basis. This clinic is for those who need assistance with small claims procedures and small claims paperwork. Assistance with procedures and paperwork for enforcement of small claims judgments is also available. This is not a class for those being sued for consumer debt. Those matters are handled during office hours devoted to civil matters. Please note that the location and hours for self help assistance are subject to change. You may call the Self-Help Center at 707-269-1223 to obtain current information about the time and location of the clinic. You may speak directly with an office staff member every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon during hotline hours at 707-269-1223. Hotline hours are subject to change.



Unlawful Detainer Frequently Asked Questions

What is an unlawful detainer?

An unlawful detainer is a lawsuit that a landlord files in court to evict a tenant. If the judge agrees with the landlord, the landlord can ask the sheriff to physically remove the tenant from the rental unit. If not, the tenant can stay in the property.

Can a landlord evict a tenant without filing an unlawful detainer?

No. It is against the law for landlords to evict tenants on their own. Even if the tenant is months behind on the rent, the landlord cannot:

  • Physically remove the tenant,
  • Get rid of the tenant's personal property,
  • Lock the tenant out,
  • Cut off the utilities, like water or electricity,
  • Remove outside windows or doors, or
  • Change the locks.

How long does the unlawful detainer process take?

Usually about 30 days, but it can take much longer if the parties do not complete and file the proper paperwork in a timely fashion. The tenant has 5 days to file a response after being served with the landlord's lawsuit before the landlord can file a request for a default judgment. If the tenant files a response, the landlord must then request a hearing date. The clerk will then schedule a trial within 20 days (or less) of the landlord's request. The trial usually takes one hour or less.

Do the landlord and tenant need a lawyer?

The landlord and tenant do not have to get a lawyer. But, there are strict court rules and court forms you have to fill out, file and serve. The rules and forms are complicated. And if you don't do things correctly, you may lose your case.

Can a tenant file a counter-suit against the landlord in an unlawful detainer case?

No. A tenant cannot file a counter-suit against the landlord in the unlawful detainer case. But, if the tenant has claims against the landlord for personal injury or damage to the tenant's personal property, the tenant can file a separate lawsuit.

Where can I get help filing or responding to an unlawful detainer?

o An unlawful detainer clinic is held every Friday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Court’s Self-Help Center located in Room 305 of the Eureka Courthouse. Individual assistance is provided on a first come, first serve basis. The clinic is for those who need assistance with unlawful detainer procedures and unlawful detainer paperwork. Please note that the location and hours for self help assistance are subject to change. You may call the Self-Help Center at 707-269-1223 to obtain current information about the time and location of the clinic. You may speak directly with an office staff member every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 noon during hotline hours at 707-269-1223. Hotline hours are subject to change.

For assistance with unlawful detainer paperwork you may also contact Legal Services of Northern California at 707-445-0866. Their office is located at 123 3rd Street, Eureka, CA. They may assist only tenants and certain income qualifications may apply.



Contact Information:

The Civil Division of Humboldt County Superior Court handles all Small Claims, Small Claims Appeals and Unlawful Detainer cases.

Address: 421 I Street, Eureka, CA
Office hours: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Phone: (707) 445-7256

(Send mail to 825 Fifth Street Eureka, California 95501-1153)

© 2014 Superior Court of the County of Humboldt