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Notices to Pay or Quit

At the top of the unfortunate and uncomfortable situations list is the potential of eviction. Eviction is, by definition, the removal of the tenant and their family from a rental property by the landlord. The act comes as the consequence of many faults, usually after repeated offenses or interminably late rent. Should rent fall behind schedule, one thing precedes eviction, and that is the Notice of Pay or Quit.

What is a Notice of Pay or Quit?

A Pay or Quit Notice is a type of eviction notice that a landlord will give to a renter whose rent is late. Without considering why the rent is late, such a notice may be given to the tenant shortly after the pay date passes. The true nature of the Pay or Quit Notice is not to immediately evict the tenant but rather to assuage the situation and correct the mishap of late rent. However, this notice is just a step prior to true eviction. A Notice of Pay Rent or Quit means that eviction proceedings will begin should the tenant continue to withhold their promised payment.

Eviction in California

For California renters and landlords, the laws are straightforward. Generally, if a tenant has lived on the property for less than a year, the landlord should give a 30-day written notice. For any tenant who has lived on the property for longer than a year, the landlord has to give a 60-day notice.

However, California also has a 3-day notice for specific issues, and one of those problems happens to be nonpayment of rent. Other reasons included a breach or noncompliance with provisions of the lease agreement, creating nuisances, conducting matters in such a way that is harmful to other tenants, or having unlawful dealings while on the premises.

The 3-day notice is actual synonymous with “eviction notice.” A 3-day notice may be also used as a Notice of Pay or Quit in California. The tenant will be instructed to leave the rental unit or comply with the agreements set forth by the lease.

Service of Notice

In California, the 3-day notice or Notice of Pay or Quit (move out), the landlord must personally deliver the message to the tenant or subtenant of a sufficient age—usually the age of a legal adult—and discretion. The notice must also be delivered by mail or given to the tenant at their official place of business. Should such methods prove to be fruitless, the landlord is then allowed to alternatively affix a copy of the Notice of Pay or Quit to the property’s door or live it in a conspicuous place, such as beneath the door or sticking out the renter’s mailbox.

The Notice’s Contents

A Notice of Pay or Quit (3-day Notice to Quit) should have the following conditions stated plainly:

  • The delinquent rental amount,

  • The date the owed rent must be paid

  • The property’s address within the State of California

  • The section of the lease that has been breached

  • Or the law that has been violated

  • Warning that an eviction lawsuit will be filed should the tenant remain noncompliant—this should be cited as California Civil Code Section § 1951.2

  • How to remedy the situation

(listed adapted from

The landlord must also sign the document to make it official. For the landlord, it is their duty to make sure a sufficient amount of time has passed from the due date in order to go ahead with the Notice of Pay or Quit. Otherwise, the notice can be overturned.

Responding to the Notice

For the tenant, how one goes about fixing the situation is vital. The tenant may immediately pay the full amount of owed rent or vacate the unit by the end of the 3rd day. The only way to get around the 3-day notice is to have a legal reason for not paying rent, such as “repair and deduct” or “rent withholding.”

“Repair and deduct” means that the tenant can subtract money from their rent should repairs in the rental unit need to be made. This covers any substantial defects that would harm the tenant(s) health.

“Rent withholding” is similar, except all rent is withheld until the landlord or management fixes issues that make the unit uninhabitable.

It is important to retain experienced and professional attorneys in order to maximize the effectiveness of your claim. Please call Aziz Legal by phone (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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