It is in your best interest to include these unknown or unnamed occupants in the unlawful detainer, or eviction, documents. Even further, it is a best practice to assume other unknown or unnamed occupants are inhabiting the premises, even if you have never suspected this before. Why? Your failure to name an unknown or unnamed occupant on the complaint can be a huge and costly mistake.
When you initiate your unlawful detainer, you name “unknown or unnamed occupants” as defendants on the complaint, along with the other tenants. These “unknown or unnamed occupants” have to be served just as any normal defendant or tenant. Service on these defendants can be effectuated by substitute service, personal service, or posting depending on the means you decide to use for service. Yes, this means you have to spend more time, and maybe money, to serve these unknown occupants, who may or may not be on your property. So maybe you think, I am not going to waste my money. However, what if it turns out there actually is someone living there. What now?
The answer depends on what part of the eviction process you are in. If you find out that someone is living on the property and you did not serve notice to the “unknown or unnamed occupants” and a Writ of Possession has not been issued, seeking legal help will definitely help your situation. You can attempt to remedy this notice requirement. However, what if you have already gotten a judgment against the tenants and the court issues a Writ of Possession of the property? What will happen when the Sheriff shows up to execute the Writ of Possession? The Sheriff will then have absolutely no authority to kick that person or people out, if they claim they lived in the property before the Unlawful Detainer was filed. If that happens, it means your eviction which could all have been avoided, if you served the “unknown or unnamed occupants” initially.
When the Sheriff attempted to execute the Writ of Possession and someone claims a legal right to possession, that “unnamed person” has options, if they were never served with notice. The “unknown or unnamed occupants” can complete a Claim of Right to Possession form, give it to the Sheriff, and file it with the court. If that person also places a deposit with the court for 15 days rent, the court will hear the matter within 5 to 15 days. If no rent is deposited, the court will hear the matter within 5 days. At this hearing, the court will decide whether this new party has a legal right to possession of the property and proceed as appropriate.
To find out more about how to make sure the eviction process is smooth and worry free, contact Bristol, Haynes & Associates for a free consultation at (909) 466-5575.