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Legal Q & A Serving the 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit – by Franco Simone, Esq.

Posted on 01. Oct, 2016 by in all, Magazine Articles

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Q:  I served my 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit and accidentally made it for the full amount when they paid $50 this month. Does it matter what the amount says? They still owe me the rest of the month.
A: 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.  

Q: My tenant owes me rent and the late fees for the last three months. Can I add the late fees to the rent owed?
A: You cannot include late fees in a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit.  Only include unpaid rent in a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit.  Further, you should not include interest, damages, or separate utility charges in your three day notice to pay rent or quit.  If you include any charges for anything other than unpaid rent, then your notice will likely be defective and you will have to serve it again and start the process over. 

Q: My tenant has been paying me partial payments lately but still owes rent from last year. How far back can I ask for the rent?
A: You can ask for up to one year of unpaid rent.  For example, if you serve your notice for the month of August 2016, you can only ask for rent from September 2015 through August 2016.  You cannot use a three day notice to pay rent or quit to demand rent from a period of more than 12 months before the notice.
Q: I served a notice and accidentally put the “Avenue” instead of “Boulevard” on my notice. Do I have to reserve it?

A: Unfortunately, you must reserve the notice. 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.
Q: I am serving my tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. The tenant that I signed the contract with left and his old roommates stayed. I don’t know the roommates. Who do I name on the notice?

A: 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.
Q: I am a landlord and need to serve my tenants with a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. I don’t want to serve my tenants personally because they are hostile. Can I just post and mail the notice without attempting to personally serve them?
A: You must try to serve the notice to pay rent or quit by handing it to the tenant in person at the rental unit.  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.  Posting and mailing a notice should only occur if you cannot serve an actual person on the property. If you cannot serve someone of suitable age and discretion at the property, 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 and willing to potentially testify at trial if you are forced to go through the eviction process.   

Attorney Franco Simone, of Simone & Associates and The Landlords’ Legal Center has been doing evictions for over 20 years.  He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego.  Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday- Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.-  Tel: 619-235-6180, website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email info@simonelawfirm.com.