After serving a 3 day notice, then what should I do next

27 Replies

I just served my tenant a three day notice for not paying the rent. But what if she still doesn't have the rent after three days, then what should I do next? She has been always late, but this month she didn't have any money for the rent at all. Plus, she has been giving me the run around.
Should I give her the 30 day notice after the three day periood?

Start marketing for a new tenant.

But what if she doesn't leave and have no rent, then what should I do? Should I get a lawyer?

Sounds like you need to learn California eviction law backwards and forwards. It might also help to join a local REI group so they can point you in the right direction. Every state has a different procedure and that can vary some from county to county. Good luck.

I wouldn't. Attorneys can be quite expensive, and this is a very simple problem.

Usually people do what you want when you reason with them properly. If you already have a tenant in your pocket that wants to move in and she is preventing that, your negotiating position becomes a great deal stronger.

Start the eviction process ASAP. Well here in NJ it is a judgement for posession. Actually it is pretty cut and dry in NJ for non payment. You get a court date and if tenant does not pay judge awards you posession and the tenant has approx. 15 days to get out. worse case you have to get a warrant for removal served but it is pretty standard. You usually meet with a mediator first before going in front of the judge.

For reasons other then non payment of rent it can get trickey and complicated IE. you have to serve a notice to cease then a notice to quit if the tenant is breaking and rules or regulations set fourth in the lease etc......

best advice I can give is to start the process ASAP don't delay it. Longer you wait longer you will be without rental income.

good luck,

Correct me if I'm wrong, I am planning to serve her with the 30 day notice after 3 day notice period ends on Friday. Does that mean I have to wait up to 30 days before I can file the court papers to get her out? Or, can I just go and get a court date after the 3 day notice expires?

After the 3 day notice expires you have to file an "unlawful detainer", the legal term for an eviction.

If you're not sure what to do, you should hire an eviction attorney otherwise a knowledgeable tenant will be able to drag this out for 6 months, living in your property rent free the entire time.

You have little choice. Hire an attorney. There is a process. I don't know what it is in CA, and my knowledge of CO doesn't help you. If you don't follow the process carefully, it can be voided and you'll have to restart. Evictions are lengthy in CA in the best of circumstances.

If you don't have an attorney, you need to find one. Perhaps someone here can give you a reference for your area. If not, if you know other landlords, ask them. The CA bar association may also have a way to find an attorney on their web site or by calling them. Most attorneys specialize and you want one who knows the eviction process backwards and forwards. The firm I use specializes in the type of work. Even if the tenant does pay this time, having a contact is a good thing. This is just part of the business.

Follow Jon's advice, but if you can't get a referral to a good attorney, take a morning off and go down to the courthouse where eviction cases are heard. Sit in on a couple hours worth for free learning and entertainment. You'll notice some attorneys are handling dozens of cases. They're eviction specialists. See who's good, seems to get results, talk to them, see what they charge to handle an eviction, and get going. Delay only hurts you.

If I go to court to file the unlawful detainer or sit in to listen the eviction cases, how do I find the right court house to go to. I know in the Los Angeles county, it's the superior court but where or how do I go from there. Downtown LA has a lot of court houses. Are they listed in the yellow pages?

Nolo publishes a pretty comprehensive guide on DIY evictions. You can probably find a copy at your local library.

Sitting in a a courtroom listening to eviction cases isn't going to teach you the process of how those parties arrived there. You're going to need to learn procedure. That's why you either need a good book, spend several hours on the Internet, or hire an attorney who already knows how to do this. Here is a law firm I've used before:

In a nutshell, after the 3-day notice to pay or quit, you need to file an unlawful detainer with the superior court. This filing is termed a Complaint and once entered into the court, the clerk will issue a Summons. You will need to find a process server to serve this Summons to your tenant (I don't believe you can do it yourself).

After successful service of process, the case can go two ways. One is the tenant does nothing by the deadline provided in the Summons and automatically loses the case in the form of a Default Judgement. Once this occurs, you can usually get a Writ of Possession quickly so the Sheriff can go boot the tenant out. However, if the tenant responds to the Summons, called an Answer, then a court date is set and the process drags on even longer.

Word to the wise, always file a Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession at the same time as the unlawful detainer. This puts EVERYONE who may possibly be residing in your property on notice that eviction proceedings are in process and gives them some time to file their claim as to why they should be allowed to remain. This adds time to the process up front, but can save weeks, even months, in time later should a friend or relative of the tenant "move in" suddenly and claim they're legally residing in your property. This could happen when the Sheriff shows up and he will in fact turn around and go away until resolved. The Prejudgement Claim short circuits all those little tenant tricks.

This is a very elementary overview of the process and I'm not an attorney, but you can see how complex it is. If you plan on doing this yourself, it's going to be a great learning experience. But realize this learning experience may cost you loss in rent for several months if the tenant is well armed with knowledge of the law and attempts to drag it out as long as possible.

Best of luck and please report back with your experience so we can all learn from it.

@Roy Lam If you need a referral for a good attorney, pm me and I will give you their info. Mitch gave you good advice on how the process works, and since frankly it sounds like you have no idea how the process works, your best bet is to hire an experienced attorney. Trying to save a couple hundred bucks can end up costing you thousands in lost rent or damages, so keep that in mind.

Your best scenario is if the defendant doesn't respond within the five day time frame from date of service. You can then get the summary judgement, but you will still have to wait for the sheriff to post the door and notify you of the lockout date. Bottom line in all this is to expect things to take six to eight weeks start to finish.

Lastly, if your tenant is on a lease, don't serve them with a 30 day. The three day is all you need. You can still talk to the tenant about moving out (you should still get a civil judgement for rent/fees, etc.) to minimize what they owe you and not end up with an eviction on their record.

Here in Florida the process is very easy and you can resume it to 4 steps:

1.- Draft and Serve Three-Day Notice.
A landlord must serve a Three-Day Notice demanding payment of rent or possession of the premises within three (3) days. The date of service and weekends and legal holidays are excluded. After the expiration of the Three-Day Notice the landlord may proceed with the summons and complaint.

2.- Complaint and Summons
Complaint: The landlord must file the original Complaint and sufficient copies of the complaint for each tenant with the Clerk. The landlord must also file a copy of the Three-Day Notice and a copy of the lease, if one exists, and attach a copy of the notice and lease to each copy of the eviction complaint. The complaint must be signed in the presence of a deputy clerk or must be notarized by a notary public.
Summons: T court clerk will issue an Eviction Summons/Residential after the eviction complaint is filed and the fee paid. A copy of the complaint, three-day notice, and lease (if one exists) will be attached for service on the tenant. The Sheriff or a private process server can serve the summons.

3.- Hearing or Defualt
Hearing: The tenant has five days (exclusive of
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) after service of the Summons to file an answer. If an answer is filed and money deposited the landlord must contact the Court to schedule a hearing.
Default: If the tenant fails to answer the Summons, the landlord may file a Motion for Default and proceed with obtaining a Final Judgment for Possession and a Writ of Possession.
The Clerk is authorized to enter a Default at the end of five days after service upon the tenant. Upon the default being entered by the Clerk the Judge will then review the file and enter the Final Judgment for Possession and direct the Clerk to issue the Writ of Possession.

4.- The Sheriff
After entry of the Judgment the Clerk will issue a Writ of Possession describing the premises and commanding the sherif to put the landlord in possession after 24 hours. The Writ must be served by the Sheriff.

If you need more information please let me now. Good luc

Analou Manent

I like the 30 days process.
In Georgia I have to serve a 60 days notice prior to proceeding with eviction.

I'm in the middle of an eviction now.
I hired an attorney to handle it for me due to concerns regarding the 3 day pay or quit notice. My understanding was after the 3 day pay or quit notice, the next step was filing for the eviction, but upon further investigation, I found that a 'Notice to Vacate' had to be delivered to tenant first.

I had done the 3 day pay or quit, but not a Notice to Vacate.
To be safe, since this is my first eviction, I hired an attorney to handle the process for me.

Here's the process for Collin County in TX.

Notice it specifically states a 'pay rent or quit' or 'quit notice' is NOT a valid 'Notice to Vacate'

This is for TX and you're in CA, but if you're unsure of the process, like I was, hiring an attorney may be the best solution.

This stuff is state specific. The process in Texas, Florida or Colorado is absolutely irrelevant to Roy.

I just went through one too and it was a lot easier and faster than some of your situations, especially @DavidWedemeir !

I guess the one question I haven't seen asked is do you have it in the contract that the tenants are responsible for legal fees and what type of deposit do you have?

Right after I served them the three day notice, I was basically told that I had to retain a lawyer because he had to file the paperwork.

Is it feasible to hire a local property manager to handle an eviction and pay less than you would a lawyer?

I just spoke to the attorney that Mitch referred.Thank you Mitch. If I don't get the rent by this Saturday when the 3 day notice expires, then I will start the eviction.
On the rental agreement there is a clause that the tenants will be responsible for the legal fees. Even though I don't thinki I can collect it.

Roy, I highly recommend you being the eviction process right away. Evictions can take quite some time here in Cali if you have a "smart" tenant.

Regarding attorney fees, here is something talking about a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling:

Originally posted by Roy Lam:
I just spoke to the attorney that Mitch referred.Thank you Mitch. If I don't get the rent by this Saturday when the 3 day notice expires, then I will start the eviction.

By law, the 3-day notice cannot expire on a weekend or holiday. It must be a business day, so if you posted the 3-day notice yesterday, today counts as day 1, tomorrow as day 2, and MONDAY will be day 3.

Good point Mitch!

Hi Roy, my wife and I have thirty years in LA property management.
1. Is this property subject to RSO?
2. Did you allow this tenant to pay rent past the expiration of previous 3 day notices?
3. The 30 day notice you mention cannot be used on a rent control bldg at all
4. 3 day notices have specific valid dates, ie. banking holidays and weekends cannot be counted. Also the day you serve it doesn't count either. The clock starts at midnight that day.
5. Service of a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit is only the first step in an Unlawful Detainer Action, don't be a fool. Even with 30 years in this business we never attempt unlawful detainers ourselves, let an attorney do it.
6. Have you paid all your SCEP and RSO (if it's rent control) fees?

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