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Getting your Costs and Attorneys Fees in a California Unlawful Detainer Case

Prepared By: Melissa C. Marsh, Los Angeles Landlord-Tenant Attorney
Written: May 2012

In California, a prevailing party in an unlawful detainer case is typically entitled to recover the "reasonable" costs of litigation. See California Code of Civil Procedure 1032 and 1033.5. To recover costs, the prevailing party typically must timely submit a verified (signed under penalty of perjury) Memorandum of Costs (Summary) to the court and may also submit the Memorandum of Costs (Worksheet).

The Memorandum of Costs (Summary) must be timely filed with the court within the earlier of 15 days after the clerk's mailing of notice of entry of judgment or dismissal, or the earlier of 15 days after any party's service of such notice or 180 days after entry of judgment. If the memorandum is not timely filed, it will be denied.

So What Costs in a UD Are Recoverable?

By statute, you can ask for reimbursement of the following costs:

  1. Filing and motion fees;
  2. Jury fees, food and losging;
  3. Deposition Costs
  4. Service of Process Fees
  5. Attachment Costs
  6. Models, Blowups and photocopies of Exhibits
  7. Witness Fees
  8. Expert Witness Fees
  9. Court ordered transcripts and
  10. Court Reporter Fees
  11. Attorney's Fees if provided for by Statute (Rent Stabilization Ordinance) or Contract (Lease)

These costs must be actually incurred. If the other side challenges your request for reimbursement of costs, you will be required to produce receipts.

When Am I Entitled to Attorneys Fees?

In Unlawful Detainers, there is no statutory right under state law for attorneys' fees. That said, if the lease contains an attorney's fee clause, or if you are in a rent controlled unit and your the local rent control ordinance has a provision providing for the recovery of attorney's fees, you may include a request for attorney's fees in your request.

The Reality Check

In most cases, landlords should first focus on getting possession of the property which ultimately is most important. Once possession is had, the Landlord can then decide whether or not it is worth filing the Memorandum of Costs. In making this determination the landlord will need to balance the cost and time to prepare and file the Memorandum of Costs with the likelihood of collecting from tenant.

© 2012 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved.

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Disclaimer: The information presented on this web site was prepared by Melissa C. Marsh for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information provided in my articles and alerts should not be relied upon, or used as a substitute for professional legal advice from an attorney you retain to advise or represent you. Your use of this Internet site does not create an attorney- client relationship. Transmission of this article is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. You may print or email a copy of any information posted on this web site for your own personal, non-commercial, use, but you may not publish any of the articles or posts on this web site without the Express Written Permission of Melissa C. Marsh.

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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.