Once you receive the summons and complaint the clock starts ticking but it doesn’t meant you have to start packing. You have a very short amount of time to file a response, and if you don’t file a response your landlord will automatically win and you’ll have just a few weeks before the Sheriff comes to lock you out. You can file the response at the courthouse yourself and find an attorney latter, but it’s usually better to let them handle the whole thing. As long as you respond in time, you’re OK. Typically, in your response you’ll demand a jury trial, which is your write in California and will make the process really expensive and time consuming for your landlord. That’s part of your strategy!