Real Property Law

Cal. Real. Prop. Journal 2018, VOL. 36, NO. 2

Handling Evictions of Unknown Occupants Before Trial

Steven J. André

Steven J. André graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Political Science and Legal Studies. In 1987, he received his law degree from UC Hastings and was admitted to practice law in California. He presently maintains a general practice in Carmel, California with an emphasis upon litigating real property issues. Steve’s other publications are available at https://

What happens when you are a new property owner after a foreclosure, a landlord seeking possession, or someone wrongfully dispossessed of real property, and you find you have occupants or subtenants who you did not know about and who refuse to identify themselves? You bring your common law ejectment or statutory eviction action (unlawful detainer, forcible entry and/or detainer) against your known defendant(s). But what about unknown occupants?

In 1991, the state legislature helped you out by enacting California Code of Civil Procedure section 415.46,1 resulting in a new Judicial Council form called a "Prejudgment Claim of Possession" that assists with the eviction of unknown occupants.2 This article explains how that Judicial Council form and the associated procedure works, discussing how to serve process, use default procedures, get a judgment, and obtain a writ that will be effective against unknown occupants of the premises.

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