This month’s article will cover some of the common flaws made by landlords in drafting and serving a three day notice to pay rent or quit in residential tenancies. Getting your three day notice right is crucial to a successful eviction of a tenant that is behind on their rent. If there is a mistake in your three day notice, it may cause you to lose your unlawful detainer case thus forcing you to start all over again. Thus, it is very important for you to try to avoid the common mistakes made by landlords below.
Overstatement of the Rent:
The amount of rent you demand from the tenant in a three day notice cannot be more than the exact sum due. Before drafting your three day notice be sure to go through your accounting records carefully to make sure that the amount you demand is accurate. Before serving the notice, it is a good idea to go over your calculations a few different times to ensure you added (or subtracted) all rent payments properly and that you have the correct amount showing on the notice.
Including Late Fees in the Notice
You should not include late fees in a three day notice to pay rent or quit. Only include unpaid rent in a three day notice to pay rent or quit. Further, you should not include interest, damages, or separate utility charges in your three day notice to pay rent or quit as well. If you include any amounts of money for anything other than unpaid rent your notice will likely be defective and you will have to serve it again and start the process over.
Rent Due for Over a Year
You can ask for up to one year of unpaid rent. For example, if you serve your notice on 8/5/13 you can only ask for rent from 9/1/12 through 8/1/13. You cannot use a three day notice to pay rent or quit to demand rent for a period of more than 12 months.
Correct Property Address
This might seem obvious to you, but unfortunately a common mistake by landlords is to have a typographical error in the address for the tenant’s rental unit. The address must be 100% accurate. You also need to ensure you include the zip code in the address. Always triple-check your three day notice to make sure everything is spelled correctly before serving the notice. Typos in the notice may force you to re-serve your notice and start over.
Naming the Wrong Tenant on the Notice
Typically, you should name all tenants on the notice that you know are currently living in the property. If you are unsure of the names of the people currently living in your rental unit then you can name the last known tenant. If you have a tenant with a co-signer that does not live in the unit you can name the tenant and the co-signer in the three day notice to pay rent.
Serving the Notice by Posting and Mailing
You should first try to serve the notice to pay rent or quit by handing it to the tenant in person at the rental unit. If the tenant is not there and you know where they work, you should attempt to hand it to them in person at work. If your tenant is not at work you can leave a copy with his supervisor and mail a copy to the tenant at his work address. If this fails, try to hand a copy of the notice to another person at the rental unit who is at least 18 years of age and of suitable discretion. If none of these options works, then you may serve the notice by posting a copy on the door and mailing a copy to the tenant by first class mail to the rental unit. If you do not want to serve the notice yourself, you can have someone else do it for you or even hire a process server or an attorney’s office to do it for you. Whomever you choose to serve the notice must fill out a proof of service or declaration of service of the notice. That person should also be available to potentially testify at trial if you are forced to go through the eviction process.
Attorney Franco Simone, of the Landlords Legal Center and has been doing evictions for 20 years. He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego. Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday- Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Walk-in’s welcome from 1:00 to 4:00 PM only – no appointment necessary. Tel: 619-235-6180, website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email [email protected].