The restoration and lockout process in Los Angeles County
It should go without saying, but we have to remind our clients that transitioning tenants out of rental units is a carefully choreographed series of legal steps that must be followed to the letter, and so landlords should resist the temptation to change the locks, shut off utilities, remove doors and windows and other “self-help” eviction measures that harass tenants or obstruct their access to the property.
These heavy-handed tactics are illegal and can invite significant liability – we will not expound on the penalties, but suffice it to say you do not want to defend against the number of actions that could result.
With those prefatory comments out of the way, let’s assume that the unlawful detainer (trade word for eviction) process has played out, and it’s now time for the landlord to recover possession of the property. We caution our clients that now is not the time to time to relax or be haphazard. In fact, restoration and lockouts are a critical part of the eviction process and if not performed correctly, rental property owners can lose their hard-fought case and have to reset the process.
It’s obvious that eviction can be an emotionally charged event and can even become violent when tempers reach a boiling point. Indeed, several peace officers and even locksmiths or creditors’ agents have tragically paid the ultimate price while performing evictions.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has modified its eviction instructions to assist with threat assessment, relocation, access entry issues. As a stickler for details, MT Evictions can guide you along this process so that there are no surprises.
We’ve put together some “do’s” and “don’ts” come the regrettable day when you usher the tenant out of your property.
• Arrive 30 minutes early
• Make contact with the deputies when you see them arrive. Get their attention and identify yourself as the authorized agent to take possession.
• Provide the deputies with a mean of entry to the premises. Generally, a locksmith, passkey or other means of accomplishing entry is used. The deputies must enter the premises first and they will NOT kick open the door or crawl through a window.
• Call the civil office prior to the restoration/lock-out date if you have any updated officer safety information that was not included in the eviction instruction form.
• Call the civil office if unforeseen circumstances prevent you from making your scheduled restoration/lock-out time.
• Keep the ‘Eviction Restoration Notice’ which is your proof that a lawful eviction has taken place. Contact local law enforcement agency to report any violation by the former tenant.
• Do NOT park in front of the premises or make contact with the occupants.
• Do NOT go inside the premises before the deputies’ arrival. If you do, you will be deemed to have taken possession, the restoration/lock-out will not take place, and you will not receive an ‘Eviction Restoration Notice’.
IF YOU OR YOUR AGENT DOES NOT APPEAR AT THE SCHEDULED TIME, LEAVES PRIOR TO THE SHERIFF’S APPEARANCE OR IF YOU CANNOT PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE PREMISES, THE RESTORATION LOCK-OUT WILL NOT TAKE PLACE.