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3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit

Updated on Fri Aug 12 2022 |

What is this Notice or Pay or Quit used for?

A 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit (blank draft provided at the end) is used in California by a landlord to initiate the formal process of removing a tenant from a leased rental unit. This notice informs a tenant they have 3 days to pay past due rent; otherwise, the landlord will file a case in court (usually an unlawful detainer action in Superior Court).

The State Code has required this new form of Civil Procedure since the 2019 Tenant Protection Act passed, which eliminated the most common previous notice. There was also a temporary 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit, which can still be used for rent owed between September 1, 2020, and January 31, 2021. This could be subject to Covid regulations and limitations.

When Should a Landlord Use a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit?

There's a lot of confusion in California about when to use which notice. The state has outlined five eviction notices to use in various situations. As outlined on that page, the 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit is reserved for instances where the tenant has past-due rent, which is the cause of the eviction.

It's also important to note that various cities in California have their own, more restrictive landlord-tenant laws which govern these disputes. For example, San Francisco requires additional forms, filings, and waiting periods when the 3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit is used. These requirements vary city by city, and if you are located in a large city that has strict rent control laws, your best bet is to contact a local attorney who can guide you through the process.

How should a notice to vacate be given to a tenant?

There are very specific laws a landlord in California must follow to serve any notice to a tenant formally. If these laws are not followed strictly, a subsequent court action may be dismissed, resulting in the landlord needing to start over from scratch (with a new notice being served properly).

In general, a landlord can serve the notice themself but must do so correctly, document how the notice was served at the time of service, and keep accurate paper copies of their records. Many landlords prefer to hire professional process servers to serve the initial notice to pay or quit to minimize the chances of future delays.

Is there an official form for a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit?

The state provides no official form for this notice, and landlords are allowed to write their own documents. The state does provide specific information that must be included in the document:

  • The full names of all tenants
  • The rental property address
  • The exact amount of rent owed
  • A statement that all past due rent must be paid within three days or the tenant must move out
  • The name, address, and phone number of the person to be given payment
  • If the tenant is allowed to pay rent in person, the days, times, and address the rent can be paid
  • Whether or not the tenant is allowed to pay the rent by mail, and the address where they can pay by mail

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