In Santa Rosa, as well as in the rest of Sonoma County, a landlord should always serve what is called a “Prejudgment Claim of Possession” on a tenant. The reason why is simple: if there are people occupying the tenancy, who are legal tenants, and who are not identified in your Complaint for Unlawful Detainer, then they can show up in court on the date of trial and object to the issuance of the Writ of Execution. In other words, they can stop your eviction cold in its tracks simply by telling the judge they never got that form.

The form is served blank and the tenant has ten days to fill it out and file it with the court. Since most of the time tenants don’t understand all the small print, they often give up their rights and end up getting evicted, even if they aren’t named in the complaint. If you are a landlord, I recommend always serving one with your complaint for Unlawful Detainer. If you are a tenant, make certain that your fellow tenants who are not named in the complaint fill it out and file it with the court. If they don’t, they will be evicted with you even though they have not been named in the complaint. Many of the unlawful detainer mills working out of county fail to serve the Prejudgment Claim, and when the trial comes, a tenant not named can show up, object, and the Judge will likely not issue the Writ of Execution. You can read the statute here.