Notice to Tenants

In San Diego and California generally, the Eviction process starts with a Notice to the tenant. The types of Notices are: a Three Day Notice; Thirty Day Notice; and 60 Day Notice.  Without serving at least one type of Notice, you typically cannot cannot file an unlawful detainer complaint (the two exceptions are explained below).

Landlords must pay close attention to the requirements for each type of Notice.  Indeed, it has been our observation in San Diego that most failed unlawful detainers filed by landlords without an attorney are due to defective notices.

Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit

This type of notice is given to a tenant that has failed to pay rent.  The notice must include the following:

  • Then tenant’s (or tenants’) name
  • The address of the rental property
  • A demand for the past due rent be paid within in three days or move out
  • Where and when the tenant can pay the rent
  • That you will pursue legal action and declare the lease forfeited if the entire amount of past due rent is not paid within the three days
  • Some indication that the notice is from the lanlord

The absence of any one of the above things will make the notice defective and potentially cause you to lose at trial.

In addition, the Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit should not ask for anyting esle.  You should not ask for any late penalties that are part of the rental agreement.  You also should not ask for any damages that the tenant may have caused.

Determining that amount due seems straightforward but can be tricky.  For example, if a 30 day notice or a 60 day notice has already been served then the amount of rent due may have to be prorated.

Remember, you cannot serve the Three Day Notice to Pay or Quit on the day rent is due.  You must serve it after that date.

Thirty and Sixty and Ninety Day Notices

When a tenant is staying in your property under a month to month lease and you wish to terminate the tenancy, then a 30, 60 or 90 day notice is the appropriate notice to give depending on the cicumstances.  If the tenant has been there less than a year, then a 30 day notice is typically approproate.  If the tenant has been there for more than a year, then a 60 notice is appropriate.  If the tenant is a Section 8 tenant (or other similar government program) then a  90 notice it typically required.  REMEMBER IN SAN DIEGO, CERTAIN SPECIAL RULES APPLIES TO TENANTS THAT HAVE BEEN THERE FOR MORE THAN TWO YEARS!  CONTACT AN LAWYER TO ADVISE YOU IF YOUR TENANT HAS HAD POSSESSION FOR OVER 2 YEARS!

Three Day Notice to Cure or Quit

Occascionally a tenant will violate a portion of the lease but the breach is curable.  In this situation a landlord can give the tenant a 3 Day Notice to Cure or Quit.  Examples of this are failing ot pay a late fee pursuant to lease, having a dog or cat when the lease does not allow one, and payment of a security deposit (this list is not exhaustive).

Much like the 3 Day to Pay or Quit, the tenant has 3 days to cease whatever they are doing wrong.  If they cease, the issue is resolved and the landlord cannot proceed with the eviciton process.  If the tenant fails to cure, however, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer complaint.

Unconditional Three Day Notice to Quit

There are also situations when the Landlord can use a three day notice that does not give the tenant the ability to cure. Examples include when the a tenant sublets the premises (or part of the premises) in violation of the lease; the tenant is causing a nuisance or the tenant is destroying the home or causing a lot of damage to the home (Again, this list is not ehaustive).  In this situation, the Three Day Notice to Quit is served and if the tenant fails to move out within three days, the landlord can file an unlawful detainer complaint.

We hope this page has helped you understand the different types of Notices required to begin the eviction process.  Please remember, however, that this list is not exhaustive and there are many other considerations to take into account.  Serving the wrong notice or filling out the notice wrong can kill your case leaving you with a tenant you dont want and a lighter checking account from court costs.  As with any legal matter, we suggest you contact a San Diego Unlawful Detainer Attorney.

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