Before you start
If you haven't already, make copies of the Answer form and Proof of Service form.
You need 1 copy of the Answer for you and every tenant named in the Complaint
1 copy of any other forms you plan to file (like a Declaration of COVID-19-Related Financial Distress)
You only need 1 copy of the Proof of Service
Take the originals and copies to the court clerk's office.
How to file forms with the court
Take your forms to the court clerk’s office
Go to the courthouse address at the top of the Complaint you were served with.
At the courthouse, file the forms you filled out by giving the original and copies to a clerk at the clerk’s office.You have to file your Answer within 5 days of being handed the Summons and Complaint. Because the time to file is so short, it’s best if you go in person.
Some courts allow online filing. You can find out if your court has online filing by visiting its website.
Pay a filing fee
You’ll need to pay a fee of $240-$450 to the clerk when you file your forms.
If you can’t afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver. Each tenant named in the Answer needs to pay a filing fee or ask for a fee waiver. You qualify for a fee waiver if:
There is a range of filing fees depending on how much your landlord is suing for.
You receive public benefits
Your income is less than a set amount
You can’t afford the fee and meet your basic needs
- If your landlord is suing for less than $10,000 the fee is typically $240
- If your landlord is suing for between $10,000 up to $25,000 the fee is typically $385
- If your landlord is suing for $25,000 or more the fee is typically $435
San Bernardino, San Francisco, and Riverside counties have slightly higher fees.
Get your filed forms back from the clerk
The clerk will stamp all the forms, keep the original and return the filed copies to you. Keep 1 copy of the Answer and 1 copy of the Proof of Service for your records. Give the other filed Answer forms to the other tenants.
Now that you've completed the steps to file an Answer in an eviction case, you'll wait for your trial date. A judge will listen to both sides and make a decision