FAQs

  1. Is this tool free?
  2. I am undocumented. Can I use this tool?
  3. What does this tool do? Who can use it?
  4. What if I have not sent a required letter to the landlord about my financial problems caused by COVID-19?
  5. I’m facing eviction, but I don’t have a Summons and Complaint yet. What are my options?
  6. I just submitted my documents through this tool. What happens next?
  7. I didn’t qualify for the fee waiver. What do I do now?
  8. What is a Tenants’ Union? What is a Debtors’ Union?
  9. What will you do with my information? What is your data privacy policy?
  • 1. Is this tool free?

    Yes, this tool is free. But California courts charge tenants $240 to file the paperwork this tool creates. Yes, you read that right: the state charges you money to challenge your own eviction. Changing that ridiculous rule is one thing that tenants can do if we join together. But if you receive certain public benefits or if your income is below a certain amount, you can get that fee waived. We’ll walk you through that fee waiver process in the tool. But using this tool is absolutely, 100%, free. If you’re happy with what we’ve built here, and want to support our efforts, we’d appreciate a donation that will let us help more tenants in more cities and towns across the country. Donate here!

  • 2. I am undocumented. Can I use this tool?

    Yes. You can and should use this tool to fight your eviction. Your immigration status does not affect your right to housing. You have full rights to use the court system regardless of your immigration status. Immigration status is not allowed as a topic of discussion in eviction court proceedings. Even if you fear your landlord wants to use your undocumented status against you, they are forbidden from doing that in the courthouse or in your eviction case.

  • 3. What does this tool do? Who can use it?

    This tool does two important things:

    1. With consent, this tool gathers basic information about your eviction situation in order to link you with legal resources, tenants’ rights groups, and to inform our housing justice work, for example, to: find super-evictor-landlords and slumlords, to negotiate repairs, fight for rent cancellation, and identify winnable legal cases to strengthen tenants’ rights. In order to do this work, we ask for tenant consent to share some information about themselves and their case with organizers, anti-eviction lawyers and researchers.

    2. This tool allows tenants facing legal eviction (who have been served with a Summons and Complaint-Unlawful Detainer) to respond to their eviction by filing what’s called an “Answer” through the court system. If tenants who have received a Summons and Complaint-Unlawful Detainer don’t file a legal response within 5 business days after they receive the Summons and Complaint, they can be evicted within weeks. This tool is designed to keep people in their homes long enough to fight back.

      This tool will work for people who live in LA County, and who have been served a Summons and Complaint-Unlawful Detainer on a pre-printed court-approved form (which will have the code UD100 in the lower left hand corner). If the Complaint-Unlawful Detainer is NOT on a pre-printed form, you should immediately contact stayhousedla.org or call 888-694-0040 for legal help. If you have received other eviction papers - a 60 day notice, a 30 day notice, a 3 day notice - it is likely that you will soon get your Summons and Complaint. When you do, you should come back to this site to use the tool. In the meantime, visit the stayhousedla.org website to connect to a no-fee or low-fee lawyer in your area. And, join the LA Tenants Union to start building the collective power we need to change this unjust system: latenantsunion.org/en/locals or call (213) 986-8266.

    Very soon we will expand the capacities of this tool to help tenants in different situations. Stay tuned!

  • 4. What if I have not sent a required letter to the landlord about my financial problems caused by COVID-19?

    Both the California State government and the Federal government (via the Center for Disease Control, or CDC) have issued eviction protections for some tenants who have financial problems because of COVID-19. In order for these protections to apply to you,you must provide a declaration (a document signed under oath) to the landlord. For the State law protection, if you have not already sent a declaration to the landlord, this tool can file a declaration with the Court. We do not recommend that tenants provide the landlord with a declaration under the Federal law before talking to a lawyer.

    Visit the COVID page of our website for more details.

  • 5. I’m facing eviction, but I don’t have a Summons and Complaint yet. What are my options?

    First, we want to let you know that you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of households in LA county and 30 million households across the country are facing eviction right now. Alone we are vulnerable, but together we are powerful. We want to work with you to stop all evictions, cancel rent, lower rent going forward, and improve our living conditions.

    If you have received other eviction papers - a 60 day notice, a 30 day notice, a 3 day notice - it is likely that you will soon get a Summons and Complaint from your landlord. When you do, you should come back to this page. In the meantime:

    Very soon we will expand the capacities of this tool to help tenants in different situations. Stay tuned!

  • 6. I just submitted my documents through this tool. What happens next?

    First, congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step in fighting your eviction. Please consider telling your neighbors and other family members about this tool, sharing it on social media, and in your church, mosque, or local community center.

    Now you have more time to find legal help in your case. Please visit stayhousedla.org and use their tenant-lawyer matching tool as soon as possible. This will link you to a no-cost or low-cost anti-eviction lawyer in your area.

    Now that you’ve filed your Answer, you will be notified about the next steps in your eviction case by mail. It is very important that you check your mail regularly, and open everything that comes. A few legal documents might come next:

    (1) If you did not send the landlord a declaration before you got the Summons and Complaint, you may get a notice setting a hearing for you to explain why you did not send the declaration.

    (2) You may get a Request for Trial Setting, which is a document the landlord files to get a date for a trial in your case. If you get this document, and you have not yet been matched with a lawyer via Stay Housed LA, please send us an email: evictiondefenseLA@debtcollective.org

    (3) You may get forms that are called “discovery.” These are usually forms titled "Interrogatories" and/or "Requests for Admission". PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE THESE FORMS. YOU HAVE ONLY FIVE DAYS TO RESPOND TO THEM. If you get these forms, and you have not yet been matched with a lawyer via Stay Housed LA, please send us an email: evictiondefenseLA@debtcollective.org

    Now is also the time to start working together to fight our evictions collectively. To do this, you should connect with the LA Tenants Union! Organizing with your neighbors and a tenants union can help you:

    Get educated about your rights.

    • Form a tenants’ association in your building or on your block.

    • Negotiate with your landlord to make repairs, cancel rent debt, or rollback rents.

    • Put public pressure on your landlord to meet your demands.

    • Block illegal lockouts and protect against harassment.

    • Connect with other people experiencing the same crisis.

    • Join a chapter near you: latenantsunion.org/en/locals or call (213) 986-8266.

  • 7. I didn’t qualify for the fee waiver. What do I do now?

    Anyone who lives in LA County and has been served a Summons and a form Complaint-Unlawful Detainer can use this tool, regardless of income level. If your income is too high to qualify for a fee waiver, then you will have to pay the $240 filing fee a separate fee if you want a jury trial, if you requested one. This tool cannot (yet!) pay that filing fee for you, so that means we also can’t file your Answer electronically. You can prepare your answer with this tool, print it out, and then submit it to the court yourself.

    Here are instructions on how to do that:

    1. Download the forms you made using the tool and print two copies. (We have also sent these forms to the email address you provided).

    2. Sign one copy of the forms labeled "Unlawful Detainer--Answer" and "Request for Jury Demand" (if you agreed to request one).

    3. Discard the fee waiver forms (FW001, FW002, and FW003), unless you want to apply for a discretionary fee waiver. You may still qualify for a fee waiver by filling out the financial questionnaire on FW001. More information about filling out a discretionary Fee Waiver can also be found here.

    4. The copies of the forms that you did not sign should be "served" on your landlord. This means they need to be mailed to the address your landlord provided on the "Unlawful Detainer--Complaint" form. But there is another wrinkle here: Somebody other than you, who is over 18 years old, will have to mail these forms to the address your landlord provided. This can be a friend, a family member, or an LA Tenants Union organizer!

    5. Once that person has mailed the forms to your landlord, they will have to fill out a "Proof of Service" form which you can download here.

    6. All of your signed forms, plus that Proof of Service form, then need to be filed with the court. To file them, you will need to include a check to pay the filing fees. If you did not request a jury, the filing fee is $240. If you did request a jury, the filing fee is $390.

    7. To file all of these forms, including the Proof of Service and your check, you have to go to the courthouse in person. The court (and address) where you should go is listed on the Summons.

  • 8. What is a Tenants’ Union? What is a Debtors’ Union?

    If you are facing eviction alone, your landlord has power over you. But if you are facing eviction with everyone in your building, and everyone in all the other buildings your landlord owns, then you have the power to make demands: Cancel Rent! Lower rent rates! Make repairs! Tenants unions build collective power over landlords.

    Organizing with your neighbors and a tenants union can help you:

    • Get educated about your rights.

    • Form a tenants’ association in your building or on your block.

    • Negotiate with your landlord to make repairs, cancel rent debt, or rollback rents.

    • Put public pressure on your landlord to meet your demands

    • Block illegal lockouts and protect against harassment.

    • Connect with other people experiencing the same crisis.

    • Join the LA Tenants Union! Read their Tenant Handbook!

    The Debt Collective organizes debtors’ unions. Debtors’ unions work to turn our individual debts (our rent, our student debt, our medical debt, our bills) into a form of collective power. Debtors’ unions work a lot like workers’ unions. Individually, workers are at the mercy of their bosses. But workers can come together in a union to change the conditions of their work: fighting for better wages, benefits, and improved working conditions.

    As individual debtors we are at the mercy of our creditors - for our housing, medical care, education, utilities, and more. In a debtors’ union, we come together and fight for better conditions in our financial lives: cancellation and renegotiation of debts. Since the economy is dependent on all of us paying our bills, we have collective power by threatening to stop paying our debts - a debt strike! We can use our power as debtors to fight for public goods including housing, medical care, and education, and to repair ongoing racialized harm (ie, reparations and redress). Learn more about Debtors Unions here!

  • 9. What will you do with my information? What is your data privacy policy?

    The Eviction Defense Tool is made by the Eviction Defense Collaborative When using this tool, you will be asked for some information about yourself and what is happening to you. This tool will start by asking for basic information about your eviction situation in order to link you with legal resources, tenants rights groups, and to inform our housing justice work, for example, to: find super-evictor-landlords and slumlords, negotiate repairs, fight for rent cancellation, and identify winnable legal cases to strengthen tenants’ rights. In order to do this work, we ask for your consent to share some of the information about yourself and your case with organizers, anti-eviction lawyers and researchers.

    If you have been served a Summons and Unlawful Detainer, and are using the tool to file an answer in the court system, we will use the information you provide to file an Answer in your eviction case. We will only use your data to create the documents to file in order to contest your eviction, to file those documents with the court, and to follow up if those documents get rejected by the court.

    By using this tool, you will grant the EDC support team access to your information in order to file your legal paperwork, and support you through the process. If the court rejects your legal paperwork, we will also share your file with volunteers who have agreed to help tenants with rejected cases. We will keep a copy of your data to fight your eviction for the duration of time required to conclude the case.

    Beyond your individual legal case, we would also like to use your information to connect you with social justice groups like the LA Tenants Union or free legal service organizations that may be able to help you with your situation. This will provide you with additional resources to fight your eviction and inform housing justice work to fight all evictions, cancel rent, lower rents going forward, and improve our living conditions. We ask for your consent to do this.

    Finally, with your consent, a smaller subset of your data will be shared without your identity, with researchers working to challenge inequality, and guarantee housing for all. You have the opportunity to set your consent levels in the tool itself.

    At any time, you may request that we delete your file and data by emailing evictiondefenseLA@debtcollective.org.

    Your data will be stored in a secure and encrypted database on an EDC server. We will not share your data without your consent.