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Defend Yourself in Court

At this time, we are receiving far more requests for legal services than we can assist. But you can still protect your rights! Below are some things you can do yourself to handle your eviction case.

IMPORTANT - Evictions have very fast deadlines.

If you miss the deadline, you may automatically lose your case and be evicted. 

If you receive an eviction lawsuit (called a Summons and Complaint–Unlawful Detainer), YOU ONLY HAVE FIVE (5) BUSINESS DAYS TO FILE YOUR RESPONSE WITH THE COURT. The response is called an Answer. If you do not file your Answer on time, your landlord may automatically win the eviction lawsuit against you without a trial.



1. Complete your Answer online*: 

Go to This website is a free public tool that will help you fill out the Answer paperwork. It will also submit your Answer to the court if you are low-income and qualify for a court “fee waiver.”

*Please note that Stay Housed LA did not make the Debt Collective website. We cannot guarantee this Answer Tool will work nor do we make any claims as to the quality of services. “This Tool is provided as a free public service and we have done our best to ensure that it works for all users as they intend. However, we cannot guarantee that the documents this Tool generates and that we may attempt to file electronically on your behalf will be accepted by the Court before the deadline for filing (5 business days after service of the Summons and Complaint - Unlawful Detainer). If your documents are not accepted by the Court as timely filed, you are at risk of losing your case by default. By using this Tool, you agree to assume the risk that your documents will not be timely filed or accepted. If you do not want to accept that risk, you can print out the documents and file them with the Court in person at the courthouse identified in the Summons and Complaint before the courthouse closes on the 5th business day after you were served with the Summons and Complaint.”

2. Go in-person to the Self-Help Access Center inside one of the courthouses for help filing your answer.

Staff in the Self-Help Center can give you the Answer paperwork and tell you how to file it. They may even help you complete it. Visit for Self-Help Center hours and addresses.

3. You can check the workshops page to see if there are any Answer workshops scheduled.

Remember, you have only 5 business days to file your Answer. Day 1 starts the day after you receive the eviction lawsuit. Weekends and court holidays don’t count. If there are no holidays, the Answer is due the same day the lawsuit was served in the following week. If you were given the lawsuit on a Tuesday, the Answer is due the following Tuesday.

If you don’t file the Answer by day 5, the landlord may submit  a request for “default” to the court, which means you automatically lose your case. It is very difficult to get the court to cancel or set aside a default once it is granted.

Understand the eviction process and signup for a free workshop

For more self-help assistance from SHLA partner Eviction Defense Network:

  1. Go to and watch “How to get help from the Eviction Defense Network;”
  2. Then watch "From Zoom to Victory;"
  3. If you have a notice from the landlord watch “How to respond to a notice from your landlord;"
  4. If you have a letter, notice or packet from the court watch “How to respond to a Summons from the court;"
  5. Fill out an intake application as instructed on the website;
  6. Follow the Steps to prepare and review the Answer, Exhibit Notebook and Trial Notebook;
  7. Come to the Tenant Empowerment Program Classes on Zoom on Mondays, Wednesdays at 5:30PM and Saturdays at 8:30AM. Find links
  8. Watch the rest of the videos and follow the directions.


More Information on the Eviction Process

  • Click here for frequently asked questions about the eviction process
  • Click here for an overview of each step of the eviction trial process

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