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When a tenant fails to pay rent in California, the landlord has three days to either pay the rent or resign.

When Is Rent Due in California?

Most leases and rental agreements require renters to pay rent on the first of every month, even if it is a weekend or holiday. Landlords are not compelled by California law to provide renters a grace period before collecting a late charge or terminating the lease.

There is, however, no rule prohibiting landlords from making rent due on a different day of the month or from offering renters a grace period for paying rent. A lease or rental agreement, for example, may say that if the first of the month is a holiday, rent is due the next business day. Alternatively, a lease or rental agreement may require the landlord to wait three days after the rent is due before charging a late charge. All agreements between landlords and renters should be written down and signed by both sides in a lease or rental agreement.

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California Rent is due in three days or you will be evicted.

The landlord may send the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or vacate if the rent is late (and the grace period, if any, has expired). The notice must tell the renter that if the tenant does not pay rent or vacate the premises within three days of receiving the notice, the landlord will initiate eviction proceedings against the tenant. (See California Civil Procedure Code 1161(2) (2022).)
The information that must be included in the three-day notice to pay rent or quit

The written three-day notice to pay rent or resign must contain the following information:

the amount of rent owed information on how and where rent should be paid (for example, the name and address of a person who can receive it or the details of a financial account it can be paid to)
The date the demand was served on the tenant, the tenant’s name and address, and a declaration that the tenant owes rent and must pay it within three days or the landlord will file an eviction case in court.

(See California Civil Procedure Code 1161(2) (2022).)

How to Deliver a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

A landlord may provide a three-day notice to pay rent or vacate by using the following methods:

Personal delivery is available. The landlord may deliver the notice to the tenant in person at the rental unit or at the tenant’s place of business.
Mailing and delivery to a third party. If the landlord is unable to locate the tenant at either the rental unit or the tenant’s place of business, the landlord may serve the notice on someone of sufficient age at either the rental unit or the tenant’s place of business. If the landlord chooses this option, the notification must also be sent to the renter.
Posting. If the tenant or someone of sufficient age cannot be located to physically deliver the notice, the landlord may post it in a prominent location on the property, such as the front door of the rented unit. A copy of the notification must also be sent to the renter.

(See California Civil Procedure Code 1162(a) (2022).)

Tenant Choices Following a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

A renter might reply to the three-day notice in a number of ways.

The renter had three days after getting the notice to pay the rent. If the renter decides to do so, the landlord will be unable to continue with the eviction.
The renter had three days after getting the notice to vacate the leased apartment. If the renter fails to pay the rent, the landlord may utilize the security deposit to cover the rent costs and sue the tenant for any overdue rent.
The renter has the option of not paying rent or moving out of the leased property. At the conclusion of the three-day period, the landlord may continue with the eviction.

The Eviction Case

California landlords cannot use self-help techniques to evict renters, such as changing locks or shutting off the power. Rather, after providing the required termination notice, the landlord must launch a “unlawful detainer” (eviction) action. The landlord must submit a summons and complaint with the superior court of the county or district in which the rental unit is situated to begin the illegal detainer proceedings. The court will schedule a date for a hearing before a judge, and the landlord must serve the court documentation on the renter (a summons and a complaint).

To assist the renter, the landlord may do the following:

Hire a professional process server to deliver the papers to someone at the tenant’s home or work and send a copy to the tenant, or post a copy at the tenant’s house and mail a copy to the tenant.

The renter has five days to react to the summons and complaint (or 15 if they are not served in person). If the renter answers, the court will hear all sides of the tale. If the tenant does not answer, the landlord might request a “default judgment,” in which the court would issue an order granting the landlord the right to reenter the property.

When both the tenant and the landlord appear in court, most courts will order the parties to mediate the disagreement in order to reach an agreement. If that fails, the court will rule whether the tenant is allowed to continue in the property or if the landlord is entitled to a writ of possession.

The only legal option for a landlord to evict a tenant is to obtain a writ of possession to hire the sheriff or another law enforcement official to physically remove the tenant and his or her things. If a landlord tries to wrongfully remove a tenant, the tenant may sue for damages.

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