One of the hardest parts of being a landlord is making sure you choose the right tenant to rent your property. This means carefully screening applicants, performing background and employment checks, and paying close attention to any possible red flags.
Of course, no matter how hard you try, there is always the chance you will accept a seemingly good tenant who turns out to be a bad one. There is also the chance that a good tenant may run into a situation that prevents him or her from paying rent.
Whatever the situation, if you have a tenant who is not paying rent, it’s important that you know about California’s 3 day notice to pay or quit.
This is an important first step in the complicated legal process surrounding an eviction, as well as an intimidation tool a landlord can use when a renter is not paying rent on time.
When to Use the 3 day notice to pay or quit in California
The 3 day notice to pay rent or quit isn’t something you want to use lightly. For example, if a tenant is having an issue with his or her bank or has been ill and has asked for a grace period of a week or two, you’re better off waiting to see if he or she pays.
This is especially the case if your renter normally pays their rent on time. However, if the renter is consistently late or owes you several months’ worth of rent, it may be time to use the notice.
Be sure to communicate with your tenant before issuing the notice, as well. There may be an emergency situation that you are not aware of, some type of misunderstanding between you, or the two of you may be able to come to some sort of agreement.
In many cases, when you do issue the notice, the tenant will pay up, and you can both go on about your business. However, if the tenant refuses or is unable, you can officially start the California eviction process.
How to Issue the Notice
There are some important rules to follow when issuing the 3 day pay or vacate notice to your tenant. Missing one could make it null and void.
First of all, the landlord must personally deliver the notice to the tenant or post it on the premises of the rental property. It is acceptable if the landlord is using a property manager or another agent for him or her to deliver it as well.
The other rules include:
- Titling the notice “Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit” (Using this specific wording is very important.)
- Filling out or writing the notice with your own handwriting or that of your property manager
- Being very specific about the name of the tenant, the address where the tenant resides, and the amount of money owed, as well as when that money was due — if this information is not on the paper, it is not considered official
- Reinforcing the idea that the tenant has three days to pay the rent, and if they have not paid within that time frame, they must move because they have broken the lease agreement
- Signing and dating the notice
- Not asking for back rent that is older than 12 months
- Not asking for anything but rent, such as late fees, utilities, or damages
- Not asking for more than the actual amount of rent owed to you
- Using language that is clear and direct
- Providing information as to where the tenant can contact the landlord or property manager, as well as an address where the late rent payment can be made
After the Notice is Issued
You may be wondering what happens after a 3 day notice to pay or quit is issued to the tenant. First of all, as mentioned above, the tenant may go ahead and pay the rent within the three days because he or she knows you are serious and close to an eviction.
However, if the tenant does not pay or communicate with you in an acceptable manner, the next step in the state of California is to file a document called an Unlawful Detainer with your local county courthouse.
You may be required to pay a filing fee. You can file this once the three-day period is over. This initiates court proceedings, and a process server will then serve the tenant with a summons and complaint.
The eviction process is not a quick one. Never assume the tenant will pay or be out of your property within the three days. That’s why it’s important to know as much as you can about 3 day notice to pay or quit tenant rights.
First of all, you must always provide the tenant with information about where and how to pay the past due rent, whether it’s an in-person visit to your office, a bank account where they can make a deposit, or an address where they can mail a check. It is against the law to request that the rent is paid in cash.
You must follow all the rules mentioned above when filling out the notice, especially when it comes to the amount of rent past due. If you tack on any additional fees or rent that is over a year past due, the notice becomes null and voice.
You must also allow the tenant the chance to correct the behavior when issuing any kind of notice in California — in this case, paying the back rent. If the tenant remains in the property, but pays the rent after the three days is up and you accept it, you waive all rights to an eviction or lawsuit.
It’s also important to know how to count the three days to ensure you are giving the tenant adequate time to pay or move. The three day period begins the day after you or your property manager serves or posts the notice on the property. If the third day falls on a weekend or holiday, the tenant has until the next business day to take action.
Disclaimer: The information in this article may not reflect the law in your jurisdiction, and is not intended to replace the guidance of an attorney. This article is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice from Vision Property Management or the Author of this article. You should seek legal advice from your attorney for more information.