So, your public agency has filed a complaint in eminent domain, and has successfully acquired an order for prejudgment possession from the Court. This order typically provides a specific timeframe for the occupants to vacate the property. But what happens if the occupants do not leave by the deadline stated in the court’s order?
Never fear. The court provides a remedy for just this situation. Every court has the power to compel obedience to its judgments, orders, and process, and Section 1230.050 of the Code of Civil Procedure gives the court in which the eminent domain proceeding has begun the exclusive power to enforce the court’s prejudgment possession order “as a matter of right.” The method of enforcement is to obtain from the court a writ of possession or writ of assistance. Once received, the writ is then provided to the county law enforcement agency, who will go to the property and cause the occupants to be removed, similar to what is done in unlawful detainer proceedings. These writs can typically be obtained very quickly from the court.
The issue is more complicated if the occupants entered into a Possession and Use Agreement with the agency, but an eminent domain complaint has not been filed. Under this circumstance, the public agency may be required to utilize more traditional methods of removal, such as an unlawful detainer action. This process is significantly slower and can be quite expensive.