Common types of unlawful detainer notices explained

By Barbara Craig, Attorney at Law

unlawful detainer noticesUnlawful detainer notices, also called eviction notices, are legal documents that a landlord uses to notify a tenant that they have violated the terms of a lease agreement. Before a landlord can file an unlawful detainer case in court and seek to have the tenant evicted, the landlord must prepare the correct type of notice and properly serve the notice upon the tenant. This article takes a brief look at common types of eviction notices, when each type is used, and also discusses requirements for the preparation and serving of unlawful detainer notices.

Three-day notice to pay or quit

The most common notice served in unlawful detainer cases in the Los Angeles area is a three-day notice to pay the rent in full or quit, meaning to vacate or move out of the property. This notice is used when the tenant has failed to pay the rent to the landlord as required under the lease or rental agreement. This notice cannot include a demand for payment of any fees other than the rent that is considered late. This means that late fees, cost of service, unpaid utilities, or attorney fees cannot be included in the amount that is owed.

Three-day notice to perform covenants or quit

This notice is used when a tenant is violating a term contained in the lease or rental agreement and the problem can be fixed. The most common lease violations are having pets in the rental unit without permission, not keeping the rental clean, or interfering with other tenants’ enjoyment of the property. Once the notice is served, the tenant must correct the violation (start living up to the covenants as stated in the lease agreement) within three days or move out.

Three-day notice to quit

This notice is used if the landlord has ongoing problems with a tenant who causes or allows a nuisance on the property, uses the property for illegal purposes, damages the property such that the damage significantly lowers the value of the property, as well as a few other reasons. This type of notice does not provide the tenant with the option to correct the violation.

30- or 60-day notice to vacate

A 30- or 60-day notice to vacate is issued in unlawful detainer cases when the landlord wishes to terminate a month-to-month tenancy and desires that the tenant move out of the property. The landlord is not required to give a reason for terminating the lease unless the property is covered under rent control. A landlord uses 30-day notice to end a month-to-month tenancy if the tenant has been renting for less than a year. A 60-day notice must be utilized if the tenant has been renting for a year or more.

90-day notice to vacate

A 90-day notice to vacate must be used when a tenant participates in a subsidized housing program (Section 8). The landlord must include the reason why he is asking the tenant to leave the property and it must be for just cause.

Unlawful detainer notices for rent-controlled properties

Properties that are subject to rent control have additional rules that must be complied with. The landlord can serve notice to vacate on the tenant but he must have just cause for giving the notice. Reasons that are considered good cause are that the tenant fails to pay rent, violates a lease term, creates a nuisance, refuses to sign a new lease as well as a few others.

Notice compliance requirements

Unlawful detainer notices served to tenants must comply with the California Civil Code. Failure to do so means the notice is defective and the unlawful detainer action should be dismissed for improper notice. To comply with the requirements the notice must be in writing, and include the names of the tenants and the address of the property.

If the unlawful detainer notice has been issued because rent is owed, the notice must list the amount of rent owed, who can accept the payment, and how the payment can be made. It must also state that the rent must be paid in full within the time period specified in the notice.

If the notice is issued because due to a violation of lease terms, the notice must specify what violation the tenant committed and the time period for correcting the issue, if correcting the violation is an option available to the tenant.

Serving the unlawful detainer notice

For the notice to be valid, it must be properly served. Service is considered proper if it is personally served on the tenant. As an alternative, it can be given to someone who is present on the property who is at least 18 years old, and the a copy must be mailed to the named tenants. In  situations where no one is present at the property when service is attempted, the notice can be posted (attached to the door or in some other plainly visible location) on the property, with a second copy mailed to the named tenant. The person who is serving the notice must sign an affidavit stating that notice was served, who was served, when they were served, and how the notice was served.

Do you have questions about unlawful detainer notices, rental property evictions, or other landlord-tenant law concerns? Contact San Pedro Attorney Barbara Craig to schedule a free consultation. Serving clients in the South Bay area including San Pedro, Rancho Palos Verdes, Lomita, Harbor City, Torrance, Wilmington, and other nearby communities.

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