3 day pay or quit california

Updated May 2020

It’s well known that every state has differences between their rules for both landlords and tenants, but keeping those rules straight can get confusing in no time. In fact, some states have rules so different than another that you might believe you’re misunderstanding them.

The 3 day pay or quit California law is one such stipulation that many people don’t understand when they first come across it. Is eviction really handled in as quick as three days? Do you have to do anything more than post a notice to make it happen?

While the 3 day notice to quit California rules are a bit faster than in other states, there are still some levels to how this rule works that you need to understand before you start believing your real estate will be vacated within three days.

Understanding this rule’s complexities will help you be a more efficient landlord in California. If you don’t know how to handle these cases appropriately, you could wind up keeping the tenant for even longer due to mistakes made during the eviction process. Take your time to learn this process today and avoid future delays.

A Table Of Contents For 3 Day Pay Or Quit In California

What Is The California 3 Day Pay Or Quit?

What Is The California 3 Day Pay Or Quit?

The 3 day pay or quit is a specific type of eviction notice that is used in some states, including California. While the state does have the more common 30-day or 60-day style eviction notices for some situations, the 3-day notice to pay rent is used more often than most landlords would want to believe.

If a tenant rightfully receives a pay or quit notice in California, they will have three days to pay up if rent is owed or leave the property.

While some landlords might want to turn to this rule all the time, it can only be used in very specific cases. If used in the wrong cases, the tenant could win the unlawful detainer suit, and that would mean you need to start over from the beginning of the eviction process.

Keep reading to find out when you can and when you cannot use the CA 3 day pay or quit notice to start an eviction.

When Can This Notice Be Used?

As mentioned, the 3 day pay or quit notice is not valid in all situations, and landlords should always be careful to only serve notices that they are sure can be used. The situations and lease between you and your tenant must have reached a certain point before this pay or quit rule can be used.

A required 3 day pay or quit notice in California must be used in the following cases only. The tenant must:

  • Owe rent
  • Break a lease provision
  • Have trash & debris building up on property
  • Behavior that is risking health of others
  • Breaking laws on the property

If any of these things are happening on the property or has happened during the current lease, the landlord has the right to serve a 3-day eviction notice at any time. Serving the notice sooner rather than later is preferred to prevent excessive damages or losses on your part.

Curable vs. Incurable

When it comes to lease violations and similar issues, these topics must be classified as “curable” or “incurable” by the landlord. Curable problems are those that have a potential solution. If the tenant follows through with the solution, they can stay. With incurable problems, there are no potential solutions, so the tenant must leave.

If you are struggling to keep up with the rules, using a property management company to navigate your properties can be useful. With their experience in these types of situations, they can help you ensure you serve the right notices on the right timelines.

What If The 3 Day Eviction Notice In California Doesn’t Apply?

What If The 3 Day Eviction Notice In California Doesn’t Apply?

If you are in a situation that doesn’t fall under any of the 3-day notice to pay rules for California, don’t worry. There are still legal ways that you can go about evicting a tenant from your real estate investment property.

If you are working with an expired lease and the tenant hasn’t lived there for more than one year, you can use a 30 day notice. If they have lived there for more than one year, however, you must use a 60 day eviction notice.

Eviction notices are not one-size-fits-all; research which eviction notice is right for your situation before you serve any type of notice to a tenant.

A Note About Rent-Controlled Properties

When it comes to evictions, there are some properties that will need to be given special consideration. In particular, rent-controlled property laws are something you will need to pay attention to if you work with this type of property.

Tenants can be evicted from rent-controlled properties for the violations above, such as breaking a lease provision, but the eviction rules for other reasons can be more strict in some areas. You cannot, for example, evict a tenant to do a very small remodel and then raise the rent.

To be sure of rent control rules in your area, connect with your local housing organizations.

CA 3 Day Pay Or Quit: How To Serve The Notice

Serving an eviction notice to a tenant is not as simple as just sending it to them in the mail. Because it is possible that the mail could get lost, it is your responsibility as a landlord to ensure that the notice could not possibly be missed.

When serving a 3-day notice, be sure to at least do the following:

  • Deliver it personally to tenant
  • Give it to a reasonable subtenant
  • Mail it (pay for a certified receipt)
  • Serve it at their workplace

If for any reason it is not possible for you to carry out any of these methods, you can ensure that the tenant has a good enough chance to both see and address the notice by doing both of the following:

  • Attach it to the door in a very visible place
  • Mail a copy

Remember that the 3-day period does not start counting until the tenant has confirmed to have received the notice. The notice is giving time for the tenant to pay, but that time is not unlimited, so you need to let them know what the time frame looks like.

If this is all too much for you to take on yourself, hire a professional process server!

Creating The Eviction Notice

If it is your first time dealing with a 3 day notice to quit California style eviction, you may still be feeling a bit confused or overwhelmed after learning all of this information. Thankfully, there are some forms available, which can help you to work through a California eviction with ease.

Over time, you may want to make adjustments for your specific situations, but starting with a base template from a reputable worker is a great way to initially learn any trade.

What’s In The Notice?

Are you still curious about the specifics of this type of eviction notice?

We knew you would be, so we gathered up information about what is most commonly posted on a 3-day notice to pay for California evictions:

  • Amount of rent owed & date it must be paid by (for a 3 day notice to pay)
  • Leave provision that was violated & when it must be remedied by (for a 3 day notice to fix or quit)

Additionally, you must be sure that the grace period for rent has passed and that the notice is signed. Make it clear that should the tenant not follow one of the instructions given, an eviction suit will be filed.

3 Day Pay Or Quit California: What Happens Next?

What will happen if the tenant doesn’t comply with payment of rent or by remedying any lease violations? After a 3 day notice to pay rent goes ignored, more actions will need to be taken.

No landlord wants that situation to happen on one of their properties, but it is possible! If that happens, you will have to escalate the case to a full-blown eviction. These cases are handled quickly in California, especially if the tenant doesn’t respond to the suit.

The court case for an eviction case is known as an unlawful detainer in California. Once you file for eviction, the court will request more information from both parties. Both you and your tenant will have a chance to provide more information and defend your argument.

If the tenant does not respond, a Writ of Possession can be executed by the local sheriff to regain control of your real estate. If they do respond, a trial will be scheduled within 20 days during which the eviction case will be settled and decided. From there, the court will let both parties know how they want you to proceed.

FAQs About California 3 Day Pay Or Quit

What Happens After A 3 Day Notice To Pay Or Quit In California?

A few things can happen after you serve a three day notice to pay or quit in the state of California:

  • Tenant cures the situation: The tenant pays rent or otherwise fixes the problem; things go back to renting as usual.
  • Tenant contests your claims: You may have a conversation and strike some sort of agreement.
  • Tenant does not cure the situation or the situation was incurable: You file for eviction at the end of the three days. From here, the court will set up a court date, and you should prepare to defend your case.
  • Court decides in your favor: If the court decides in your favor, you’ll be awarded a writ of possession and can work with a sheriff to have the tenant removed if they do not leave on their own.

Does 3 Day Notice To Pay Or Quit Include Weekends In California?

The 3 day notice to pay or quit eviction rules in California do not include weekends or holidays. This means that if you deliver an eviction notice to the tenant on Friday, Saturday and Sunday do not count towards those three days. Keep this in mind as you cannot move forward to file for eviction until three business days have passed.

Here’s how to calculate the three day period in California:

  • Do not include the day that you delivered the notice.
  • Do not include any weekends.
  • Do not include any court holidays.

How Do You Serve A 3 Day Notice To Pay Or Quit In California?

To serve a 3 day notice to pay or quit in California (or any other type of eviction notice, for that matter), you must make sure that the notice is received by the tenant either directly or through registered mail. Preferably, you would ensure the tenant receives the notice in more than one way.

We recommend that you do the following:

  • Personally deliver the notice
  • Pay for certified mail delivery
  • Deliver it at their workplace if you cannot deliver it at home

If those methods are not possible, you can also attach the notice to the door where it is visible or mail it via regular mail, but it is preferable to be able to prove that the tenant received the notice at a certain time.

How Long Does The Eviction Process Take In California?

There is no specific timeframe that must be met when filing for eviction in California; the process could take as little as a few days if the tenant chooses to move out immediately, or it could take up to a few months if the courts need to get involved.

Whether you are using a 3 day, 30 day, or 60 day notice, there is not a set time period that eviction will always follow.

The final timeline will depend on how long it takes tenants to reply to any served notices and how long it takes to deal with the court system, if necessary. The potential delays involved in eviction are a big part of why all landlords should have security funds set aside to help cover expenses.


As you can see, California is a state that takes the stress of being a landlord in cases like these relatively seriously. The 3-day notice offers a quick solution to landlords who are trying to get paid rent or to fix lease violations quickly.

In other states, these eviction notices have to be much longer than the ones in California, so it can be very frustrating for a landlord.

Here’s what you need to remember:

  • 3-day notices are only valid in certain situations
  • Specific information must be included on the notice
  • The case will need to be escalated to a court case should they not remedy any problems in the allotted 3-day period

Knowing everything that you can about the local laws when it comes to things like the 3 day notice to quit California rule is important for landlords who want to remain in control of their property, no matter who is staying on it!