This article was posted on Saturday, Jun 01, 2013

Q:  My tenant didn’t pay their rent this month so I want to give him a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.  How can I give him the notice?

The law requires your notice to be properly “served” to be valid.  To serve a notice you must deliver it to the tenant in a specific manner.  There are three permissible methods to serve the notice:

1)  personal

2)  substitute and

3)  post and mail

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Note that method two can only be used if method one was tried and failed and method three may be used only if methods one and two were tried but failed.

To personally serve a notice you must hand the notice to the tenant.  If the tenant is standing in front of you and refuses to take it in their hands you may leave it with them.  If you can’t find the tenant at home and you know where the tenant works you need to serve the tenant at his work address. 

If you cannot serve the tenant personally, then you may attempt to serve someone else at the rental unit other than the tenant.  This is called substitute service.  Before doing this, you must have attempted to personally serve the tenant.  Once you have served this other adult person [over the age of 18] at the property you must then also mail a copy of the notice, by first class mail, to the tenant at his home.

Finally, if you cannot personally serve the tenant and you are unable to substitute serve the notice, you may then serve the notice by taping or tacking a copy to the front door of the rental unit (or some other obvious location where the tenant is guaranteed to see it), and then mail a copy of the notice to the tenant at the rental unit mailing address.  You should mail the notice by first class mail; you do not need to send it certified. 

Q.  I have two tenants that lease my property – do I have to serve each tenant with a copy of the three day notice to pay rent or quit?

No.  UnderCalifornialaw, service of a notice on one of your tenants is considered service on the other co-tenant, assuming that they are both co-tenants on the same rental agreement/lease.

Q:  When does the three day period expire if I serve a three day notice to pay rent or quit? 

The three day period begins on the first day after the notice was served.  If the third day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or court holiday, the three day period does not expire until the following Monday or non-holiday.  So, if you personally serve the notice on a Wednesday, the first day you count will be Thursday, and the notice will thus not expire until the following Monday since it cannot expire on a Saturday.

Q:  What if I want to give the tenant a 30 or 60 Day Notice to Quit? Can I serve the notice just like I would serve a three day notice? 

Yes.  In addition you may also mail the 30 or 60 day notice to the tenant by certified or registered mail. 

Q:  Do I fill anything out after I serve the notice?

Yes, you should fill out a Proof of Service or Declaration of Service.  Some agencies provide notices with the proof of service directly on the form.  On the proof or declaration of service you state what type of notice you served, how you served the notice, to whom the notice was served, the address of the rental unit, and the date and time of service and you sign and date the form.  You can find sample notices and proofs of service at  [AOA members may download these forms for free at]

Attorney Franco Simone, of the Landlords Legal Center and has been doing evictions for 18 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 -no appointment necessary.  Tel: 619-235-6180, website: or email [email protected]. 


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