Importance of Proper Service of Notices

When it comes to an eviction action, a landlord rises and falls on its notice. In other words, if the landlord’s notice complies with the law and is served properly, the landlord should prevail. However, if the landlord’s notice fails to comply with the law, then the landlord may be forced to start an eviction case over from the beginning. Losing an eviction case can mean more than just lost time and rent. In some instances, it may mean the landlord is responsible for payment of the tenant’s attorney fees and costs. Now, more than ever, it is critical to have an experienced landlord-tenant attorney draft or review any notices or letters that are served on a tenant. In many cases, a properly drafted notice or letter may resolve any potential dispute thereby avoiding any need for an eviction or other litigation.

Authorized Methods of Service

For residential tenancies, service of a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, Three Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit, Three Day Notice to Quit, or a Notice of Termination of Tenancy may be made by any of the following methods: (1) Personal Service: Service may be made by delivering a copy to the tenant personally, (2) Substitute Service: If the tenant is absent from his or her residence and usual place of business, service may be made by leaving a copy of the notice with a person of suitable age and discretion at either place and mailing a copy to the tenant at his or her place of residence, or (3) Post and Mail: If the tenant’s place of residence and business cannot be ascertained, or a person of suitable age or discretion cannot be found there, service may be effected by affixing a copy of the notice in a conspicuous place on the property rented to the tenant, and delivering a copy to the person residing there (if such person can be found), and mailing a copy to the tenant at the residence. (See, Code of Civil Procedure § 1162)

Service of a 30 or 60 Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy

A landlord may serve a 30 or 60 Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy by the methods described above.  Additionally, a landlord may serve a 30 or 60 Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy by certified or registered mail. (See, Civil Code § 1946 & 1946.1)

Actual Receipt

The law does not require that the tenant actually receive the notice. It is enough that the landlord properly served the notice.  On the other hand, proof that the tenant received actual notice will normally cure any defects in service.

Service On Cotenants

Proper service of a notice to terminate on one cotenant named in the rental agreement is proper service on the other named cotenants.

Presumption of Proper Service When Made By Registered Process Server

The return of a registered process server creates a presumption of proper service.