Ask for a default judgment for rent owed

If your tenant owes you past due rent and doesn’t file an Answer form with the court on time, you'll file a set of default judgment forms with the court to ask the judge to order your tenant pay you the past due rent (a default money judgment). 

For COVID-19 Rental Debt, 

the judge can only order your tenant to pay COVID-19 rental debt rent if you listed nonpayment as a reason for the eviction in your Notice and Complaint. If you did not, then you can't collect it as part of your eviction case. Starting November 1, 2021, you can sue them for the unpaid rent in small claims or civil court. 

When to ask for a default money judgment

You can ask for a default money judgment as soon as the tenant's time to file an Answer runs out. Your tenant has 5 days from when they were handed the Summons and Complaint (not including Saturdays, Sundays, or court holidays) to file an Answer. If they don't, on the 6th day you can ask for a default judgment. 

You need the money judgment to try to collect the past due rent from your tenant's paycheck, bank account, or in other places they have money.

If your server handed the forms to your tenant (even if they didn't take them and your server had to leave the forms near them), your tenant has 5 days to file an Answer. Day 1 is the day after they were handed the forms.

Your tenant gets more time to file an Answer if your server

  • Gave the forms to someone else at your tenant's home or work and then mailed a copy to your tenant (this is called substituted service)
  • Posted a copy at your tenant's home and then mailed a copy to your tenant (this is called service by posting

If your server used substituted service or service by posting your tenant has 15 days after the server mailed the Summons and Complaint to file an Answer.

  • The mailing date is the postmark date. 
  • Day 1 is the day after the server mailed the Summons and Complaint.
  • For the first 10 of the 15 days, count regular calendar days (every day, including weekends and holidays). The 10th day is the day you're considered served.
  • Then you count 5 court days. For these 5 court days do not count Saturdays, Sundays, or court holidays. The 5th day is the deadline to respond to the Complaint.

If they don’t file an Answer by the deadline, the next day you can file forms asking the judge to order your tenant to move out.

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Your tenant can file an Answer any time before you ask for a default. This means the longer you wait to ask for a default, the more time they have to file an Answer. Once there's a default, your tenant can not file an Answer to fight the eviction.

Use a different judgment form to ask the judge to order your tenant to move out

If you also want the judge to order your tenant to move out, you file a different judgment, called a default judgment for possession. Usually, the judgment for possession is done first and on separate forms, because the clerk can process these forms can be processed more quickly. Then you can start the process of getting the sheriff to move your tenants out if they don't move voluntarily.

How to get a default judgment for money a tenant owes you

  • Fill out and make copies of forms

    • Request for Court Judgment (form CIV-100)

      This is the same form used to ask for the Clerk's Judgment of Possession. To ask for the rent you're owed, check the "Court Judgment" box.

    • Declaration for Default Judgment by Court (form UD-116) 

      This is a form where you prove the amount of money you're asking the tenant to pay.

    • Writ of Execution (Money Judgment) (form EJ-130)

      This is the form that the court "issues" that you give to the Sheriff. It gives the sheriff permission to take the money the tenant owes you from their paycheck, bank account, or other places. 

    If you are asking to evict your tenant for unpaid rent or other money due under the lease, you must also fill out and file a Verification by Landlord Regarding Rental Assistance - Unlawful Detainer (form UD-120).

    Make a copy of each form.

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    For past due rent, you can only ask for what you listed in your Complaint.

     On the Judgment, you're asked to write in how much past-due rent you're owed. You can only write in how much you listed in the Complaint, even if your tenant now owes more.


  • File the forms

    Take all 4 forms and the copies to the court clerk's office. Usually, the clerk will keep the forms and then mail them back to you after the judge signs them.

    There's a fee to issue the Writ of Execution. If you can’t afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver. You qualify for a fee waiver if:  

    • You receive public benefits  

    • Your income is less than a set amount 

    • You can’t afford the fee and meet your basic needs 

  • Start the collection process

    After you've received the forms back from the court, take the Writ of Execution form to your county sheriff's office. This allows the sheriff to go to the other side's bank or employer and get money to send you.

    Before you take the Writ to the sheriff's office, call them or visit their website to find out what instructions they need from you to get started. For example, if you want them to collect money from your tenant's bank account you'll need to know what bank they use and the account number. The sheriff will need other information, too.

    Learn more about collecting a judgment


    Return to an overview of the eviction process for landlords

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