5-day notice

5 Replies

What has been an acceptable way to serve a 5-day notice while the tenant is still living at the property? I understand delivering to tenant is the best way. However, if tenant does not come to the door, there have to be other methods. Has any one sent a 5-day notice via certified mail that tenant does not accept even if post office tries multiple times, and you get a notice of non acceptance of mail from the post office. Does this non acceptance notice hold in court? Also, has anyone posted the notice to the door if tenant still lives there but does not come out or is not home and has that worked. Please state your experiences with the 5-day notices which were accepted and which were not? Location or State you are in does not matter, just want to get the feel of law on this topic.

I deliver the pay or quit notices to my tenants myself, and sign the bottom of the notice which states such. None of my tenants has said they didn't receive it.

I think the problem with sending it certified with a return receipt is most of the mail which is delivered by the USPS, deliver during the day when most people are at work.

If my tenant doesn't respond to the pay or quit and I go to court to file the paperwork for summons for unlawful detainer, I have to raise my hand and swear that all notices were delivered to the tenant in accordance with the law.

I hand delivered my notices to the Tenant. Don't know what I would have done it they chose not to accept. Probably would have just let my Lawyer handle it.

The answer to your question is location specific. You must follow the landlord-tenant laws for the jurisdiction in which the property is located.

For Washington State we have 24-hour, 48-hour, 3-day, 10-day, 20-day, and 30-day notices which serve different functions. We must follow the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) or we risk judgement against us.

Pay Rent or Quit is a 3-day notice for us. Here is an example of how it must be served taken off of the "Proof of Service" section of our notice. One method must be checked.

[ ] On ________, 20_____, I handed the notice to tenant(s), as per RCW 59.12.040.

[ ] On ________, 20_____, after attempting personal service, I handed the notice to a person of suitable age and discretion at the tenant's residence, AND I deposited a true copy in U.S. Mail, in a sealed envelope with postage fully prepaid, addressed to the tenant(s) at his/her place of residence on the same date, as per RCW 59.12.040.

[ ] On _______, 20_____, after attempting service in both manners indicated above, I posted the notice(s) in a conspicuous place at the tenant's residence, AND I deposited a true copy in the U.S. Mail, in a sealed envelope with postage fully prepaid, addressed to the tenant(s) at his/her place of residence on the same date, as per RCW 59.12.040.

Executed on; Dated this _______ day of _______, at the City of _________, County of _________, State of _________.

Served by ______________.


The latter method is sometimes called "nail and mail", but we actually tape the notice to the front door, using brightly colored painters tape which doesn't harm the door finish yet stands up to the weather. The blue, green or yellow tape makes it stand out conspicuously. Then we take a photo of our posting with the unit number visible in the picture if possible.

We mail by regular first class mail and purchase a "certificate of mailing" from the postal clerk which gives us a postmark that shows the date we mailed it. Return Receipt Requested is not a good idea, as it requires the postal carrier to make personal contact with the tenant, who might not be home or might refuse to open the door or might refuse to sign anything.

Thanks again. I used to get return receipt which as you say is not a good idea because no tenant will receive it even if he is home. Again good insight and good answer.

@Marcia Maynard is exactly correct, you need to check your state/local laws regarding serving notices. The options she listed for serving a pay or quit notice in Washington are basically the same options we have here in CA. Check your state/local landlord tenant law to see what info needs to be on your notice, and how it can be served. If you are using the pre-made notice forms that realtors use, it might say right on the form what the options are for serving the notice. The pay or quit notice that realtors use here in CA does.

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