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3-Day Notice to Quit

Updated on Fri Aug 12 2022 |

What is the 3-Day Notice to Quit used for?

A 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit (blank draft provided on left) 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 violated a requirement of the lease, and have three days to pay past due rent; otherwise, the landlord will file a case in court (usually an unlawful detainer action in Superior Court).

These violations usually need to be major for a court to consider them just cause for an eviction. Common examples of these include:

  • Moving in a pet when the lease specifies no pets
  • Moving in additional people (family or friends) when the lease specifically states the tenant cannot do this
  • Causing significant damage to the property
  • Endangering others at the property, neighbors, or the community
  • Dealing drugs or being involved in gang activity at the property

Immigration status, sex, race, religion, and other demographic reasons are generally not just causes to evict someone as they are protected under discrimination laws.

When Should a Landlord Use a 3-Day Notice Quit?

The 3-Day Notice to Quit is reserved for instances where the tenant has broken a lease or rental agreement rule, been served a Notice to Perform or Quit, and failed to fix the issue. At that stage, a landlord can inform a tenant that they now have no other options and must vacate the property within three days. Remember, weekends and court holidays do not count as part of the three days.

Serving a Notice to Quit does not actually guarantee that a landlord may evict a tenant. In some California cities there are additional local laws in place to protect tenant rights, and additional processes before a landlord is given approval to evict a tenant. As an example, San Francisco has multiple additional forms, filings, and hearings that must be followed and the process can take one or two years of additional time.

How should a notice to quit (vacate) be given to a tenant?

There are very specific laws a landlord in California must follow to "serve" any notice, including a 3-Day Notice to Quit, to a tenant formally. If these laws are not followed strictly, a subsequent court action will likely be dismissed, resulting in the landlord needing to start over from scratch (with a new notice being served properly) while the tenant continues to occupy the property.

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. Most landlords prefer to hire professional process servers to serve the initial notice to pay or quit to minimize the chances of future delays.

Where to get the 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
  • A statement of the behavior or action that the tenant has done to violate the lease that this notice to quit to be given
  • A statement that the tenant must move out in 3 days

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