The Different Types of At-Fault Eviction Notices and When to Use Them

California Eviction Notice: The Different Types of At-Fault Eviction Notices and When to Use Them

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As property owners and landlords, issues can arise when you rent out your property. As a result, at times, you may have to evict a tenant. In California, there are a few different eviction notices that all landlords should be familiar with. During an eviction, it is important to make sure that all the steps in the process are done accurately, which includes using the correct California eviction notice. In many cases, executing an eviction notice improperly can land a property owner in trouble and even result in a lawsuit against them. There are three primary eviction notices in California:

  • 3-Day Notice to Quit
  • 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit
  • 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit 

Because most evictions across the state were on hold (due to the pandemic) for quite a while, in recent months our law firm has been getting many calls from property owners who need assistance and information about what the eviction process in California is like and which eviction notice they should use. As lawyers with a wealth of experience with unlawful detainers (also known as an eviction) in California, Forward Law Group seeks to help readers by providing simple, straightforward, and accurate information. In this article, we begin by providing a brief background and the essential details about California evictions, such as the difference between at-fault and not at-fault evictions. From there, our attorneys will cover a few different types of eviction notices, providing a description of each one along with valuable information about when they are used. 

Evictions in California: A Quick Background

In California, having a just cause is a requirement for removing or evicting a tenant who has continuously occupied a rental unit for at least 12 months. There are two types of just cause evictions—at-fault just cause evictions and no-fault just cause evictions. In simple terms, when a tenancy is terminated based on the fault of a tenant this is considered an at-fault eviction. This would be the case if, for example, a tenant does not pay the agreed-upon rent timely. No-fault just cause evictions, on the other hand, are when the property owner or landlord want to evict a tenant at no fault of the tenant, for example, when the property owner or landlord wants to move into the property. In this article, we are focusing on at-fault just cause evictions. 

California At-Fault Just Cause Evictions: Key Details

Due to the fact that the ongoing Covid-19 Moratorium is likely to come to an end in the near future, our attorneys at Forward Law Group have seen an uptick in calls about at-fault just cause evictions because of reasons such as:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Criminal activity occurring on the rental property or use of rental property for illegal purposes
  • A breach of a significant provision or material term of the lease agreement
  • Subletting or subleasing in violation of the signed lease

While the list above presents some of the most common reasons for at-fault just cause evictions, many other things can constitute an at-fault eviction in California as well. For detailed information and to hear how our attorneys can help you with your eviction or unlawful detainer, call Forward Law Group today. Compared to no-fault just cause evictions, at-fault just cause convictions allow the landlord to serve a notice that has a much shorter period which the tenant needs to take action–in many cases the time period being 3-days. In the next section, we discuss some of the different types of California eviction notices.

The Different Types of California Eviction Notices

As mentioned in the introduction, landlords and property owners must go through a legal process before they can ask for a court order that states that the tenant must move out of the rental property. This eviction process begins when the property owner gives the tenant a written notice. A notice is a written warning that a landlord is going to start a court case if the tenant does not move out or fix a problem. This type of notice that the property owner needs to give the tenant depends on the reason for eviction. Before focusing in on a few key notices, here’s a quick, more comprehensive list of different eviction notices. These notices vary, of course, depending on the facts of each case as each case is unique. 

  • 3-Day Notice to Quit–Landlords should use this notice if their tenant is responsible for serious problems at the rental property. 
  • 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit–Landlords should use this notice if their tenant has failed to pay rent.
  • 3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit–Landlords should use this notice if their tenant violated the lease and the problem can be fixed.
  • 15-Day Notice to Pay or Quit–Landlords should use this notice when their tenant has COVID-19 rental debt. (Note: There are two different types of 15-day notices depending on when the rent was due and the tenant's income. More information can be found here.)
  • 30-Day Notice to Quit–Landlords should use this notice if they seek to end a month-to-month tenancy due to a no-fault just cause if their tenant has been renting for less than one year.
  • 60-Day Notice to Quit–Landlords should use this notice to end tenancy for a no-fault just cause when their tenant has been renting for 1 year or more.
  • 90-Day Notice to Quit–Landlords should use this notice if the rental property is Section 8 subsidized housing. 

Below, we focus on three types of California eviction notices that have been popular among landlords in recent months. For each, our Forward Law Group team will provide a more in-depth description (beyond what is outlined above) and information about how to use them. 

3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

As outlined in California Civil Procedure Code § 1161(2), a landlord has a right to serve their tenant with a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit if a tenant fails to timely pay rent. With a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, a tenant has the option of paying the past-due rent owed within three days, not including Saturdays, Sundays, or judicial holidays. If the tenant fails to pay the past-due rent within this time period, a landlord can then file an eviction case (or unlawful detainer action) against the tenant. During the trial, the landlord can request the past-due rent owed, holdover damages, and depending on the lease agreement, attorney fees and costs. It is important to note that the three-day period cannot include Saturdays, Sundays, or judicial holidays. 

3-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit 

This notice is sometimes also referred to as Three-Day Notice to Perform Conditions (Cure) or Quit. The notice should describe in detail how the tenant has violated said lease agreement term, and state how the tenant must cure the violation. One common scenario related to this type of notice is a tenant violating a no-pets policy on the lease agreement. The tenant must remove the pet from the property within three days or vacate the rental property. If the tenant does not cure the violation or move out after three days, not including Saturdays, Sundays, or judicial holidays, the landlord must then serve a Three-Day Notice to Quit (described below). At the expiration of the Three-Day Notice to Quit, a landlord can file an unlawful detainer case against the tenant.

3-Day Notice to Quit

When issues are considered serious and unfixable lease violations, a landlord can serve a Three-Day Notice to Quit in California. Some examples of serious, unfixable violations include the tenant subletting the rental property, causing serious damage to the property, committing criminal activity on the property, using the property for illegal purposes, and so forth. Under these circumstances, the tenant is not given the opportunity to fix the issue. If the tenant does not move out within three days, not including Saturdays, Sundays, or judicial holidays, the landlord can then file an unlawful detainer action against the tenant. 

Understanding California’s Eviction Process

Although eviction notices are a fundamental aspect of the eviction process, they are only the first part of a multi-step process. Below, we provide an extremely simplified version of the typical eviction process for landlords. This process is, however, not comprehensive.

  1. Give the appropriate written notice to the tenant.
  2. File forms in court to start an eviction case if the tenant does not do what was asked of them in the notice by the deadline. 
  3. Ask the court for a trial date or a default judgment. 
  4. Go to trial, in which a judge or a jury will hear both sides (tenant and landlord) before making a decision. 
  5. The judge or jury will decide if the tenant must move out or if the tenant can stay (if the property owner or landlord loses the case). 

Even from this basic list outlined above, it is easy to see how things can get tricky for landlords at certain points in this process, especially if the case goes to trial. Ultimately, if they lose the case, the tenant can stay–completely dismantling a landlord’s plans. To avoid this being the case, it is always highly recommended to secure the assistance of a skilled lawyer who can guide you through the process and achieve the outcome that you want. 

Forward Law Group–The Law Firm Trusted By Landlords in Southern California

No matter how simple or complex an eviction case may be, Forward Law Group can skillfully guide landlords through the eviction process. Our lawyers work to ensure that the eviction is handled lawfully and that the landlord is always protected, and equally, that the case ends with a desirable result for our client. From Los Angeles to Orange County and San Diego, our team of attorneys has successfully helped landlords and property owners across Southern California. Avoid the time, energy, and stress of dealing with an eviction on your own by calling our team today at (818) 471-8389.