Unlawful Detainers: At the Center of Landlord/Property Manager Challenges

“There are a number of terms within the rental and tenant screening world that can sometimes be confusing and unlawful detainer is one such term,” states Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com.  Often used interchangeably with evictions, unlawful detainers are specifically: “The act of retaining possession of property without legal right.”(1)

One of the great challenges a landlord and/or property manager faces is dealing with the legal aspect of renting.  From the application process and tenant screening through the potential of eviction, the process of renting property can be enormously complex, especially for new landlords.

During the application process landlords and/or property managers go through several steps in the process of selecting a new tenant.  First and foremost is the application.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “Rental applications should be very clear and very uniform among potential renters.  Special care should be taken in regards to specific questions asked on applications.  Recently the Department of Housing and Urban Development put out a guidance regarding the legal and lawful use of Criminal Records during the application process.”

There are a wide variety of public and private records and information points that can be gathered and utilized to verify information collected on a rental application.

One piece of information that is front and center during the vetting process is eviction.  Eviction reports can show information on tenants that were legally removed from a rental property.

It is important to note that many landlords/property managers use the term Unlawful Detainer interchangeably with Evictions.  For the new landlord this can be confusing.

Unlawful Detainer, in regards to tenant screening, can be defined as:

“The term unlawful detainer ordinarily refers to the conduct of a tenant who is in possession of an apartment or leased property and refuses to leave the premises upon the expiration or termination of the lease.” (2)

In short Unlawful Detainer is a legal action landlords use to evict a tenant.

Almeida adds:  “Bare in mind that Unlawful Detainer action in the courts can be complicated and confusing for newer landlords.  The eviction process as a whole is time consuming and expensive.  A best practice is to utilize a third-party tenant screening company in order to prevent the potential of eviction.”

As a tool for landlords Unlawful Detainer can be effective.

From the California Department of Consumer Affairs webpage (dca.ca.gov):

Recent laws designed to abate drug dealing and unlawful use, manufacture, or possession of weapons and ammunition, permit a city attorney or prosecutor in selected jurisdictions to file an unlawful detainer action against a tenant based on an arrest report (or other action or report by law enforcement or regulatory agencies) if the landlord fails to evict the tenant after 30 days’ notice from the city. The tenant must be notified of the nature of the action and possible defenses. (3)

Almeida states:  “In the end a best practice for landlords and property managers is to do the homework upfront.  Conduct the application, review the data, confirm through a tenant background check utilizing a well-qualified third-party tenant screening agency.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party tenant screening company available to provide all the data and information a property manager requires in making a sound decision on a potential tenant.  With a well-trained and highly dedicated staff, TenantScreeningUSA.com can perform criminal background checks, eviction record checks and professional reference verifications.


(1)   legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Unlawful+Detainer

(2)   legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Unlawful+Detainer

(3)   dca.ca.gov

Speak Your Mind