Forcible Entry and Detainer Definition

The statutes defining forcible entry (Code Civ. Proc., 1159) and forcible detainer (Code Civ. Proc., 1160) reflect a policy, with deep roots in English law, barring the use of forceful self-help to enforce a right to possession of real property and requiring instead the use of judicial process to gain possession. ( Daluiso v. Boone (1969) 71 Cal. 2d 484, 490-491 [78 Cal. Rptr. 707, 455 P.2d 811].) The statutes may be traced to an original forcible entry and detainer statute enacted in England in 1381. "The purpose of the statute was to preserve the peace by preventing disturbances that frequently accompanied struggles for the possession of land. This early prohibition against self-help extended to persons having a right to possession and thus fostered recourse to orderly court process." ( Jordan v. Talbot (1961) 55 Cal. 2d 597, 603, fn. 2 [12 Cal. Rptr. 488, 361 P.2d 20, 6 A.L.R.3d 161].) The leading decision in the field of forcible entry and detainer, Jordan v. Talbot, supra, 55 Cal. 2d 597, indirectly affirms the policy favoring use of orderly legal process by broadly construing the statutory language prohibiting forceful self-help by the landlord. During the plaintiff's temporary absence from her apartment, the landlord unlocked the door of the apartment and, together with storage company employees, entered without the plaintiff's consent and removed her furniture to a storage warehouse. When the plaintiff returned to the empty room, she asked the defendant's apartment manager what had happened and was told: " 'Get the hell out of here. You're out . . . .' " ( Id. at p. 607.) Finding a forcible entry within the meaning of subdivision 1 of Code of Civil Procedure, section 1159, which refers to "breaking open doors, windows, or other parts of a house," the court explained, "Defendant violated this section when he unlocked plaintiff's apartment without her consent and entered with the storage company employees to remove her furniture, even though there was no physical damage to the premises or actual violence." ( Jordan v. Talbot, supra, 55 Cal. 2d at p. 605.) Similarly, the court found an unlawful detainer within the meaning of subdivision 1 of Code of Civil Procedure, section 1160 referring to a person who " 'by force or by menaces and threats of violence, unlawfully holds and keeps the possession of any real property . . . ." ( Jordan v. Talbot, supra, at p. 608, italics omitted.)