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What to Do If Your Tenant Does Not Pay Rent

The most common reason to evict a tenant is for not paying rent. Many landlords have to pay a mortgage and other bills with money collected as rent. For this reason, a tenant not paying rent can cause a hardship. If you are unsure about whether or not you have legal grounds for eviction, this guide will be helpful.

Create a 3-Day Eviction or Termination Notice

California landlords have the right to send an eviction notice the day that rent is due. This is called a termination notice and gives a tenant the option of paying rent within three days or moving out. The exception occurs if the rental agreement allows for a grace period. You must abide by the details in the contract that both parties signed.
There are specific rules for preparing a three-day notice. The notice must include the full names of all tenants listed on the rental agreement, the address of the unit, the correct amount of rent due not including late fees, the due date for rent and a demand for rent within three days.
You must also include a statement that you intend to pursue legal action if neither of the two demands is met. You must also include information about how to pay rent. You also need to sign and date the notice.

Serve the Three-Day Notice

There is also a right way to serve this notice. You or anybody else over the age of 18 can legally serve the notice, and it is preferable that you have one for each person on the lease.
If you do not want to personally serve the notice, you can hire a professional service to do this for you. You can also post the notice and mail a second copy, but you cannot simply mail it or post it on its own. No matter how you decide to serve the notice, make sure that you keep track of the details, including method and date.

Await Response to Three-Day Notice

There are several ways in which the tenant may respond to the notice. The tenant may pay the entire rent. If this happens, the landlord is not allowed to pursue further the eviction process any further.
The tenant also has the option of moving out of the unit in the required time span. If the tenant does so without paying rent, you have the right to cover it with the security deposit. You can then sue the former tenant for unpaid rent and other costs associated with the situation.
Finally, the tenant may ignore the message and refuse to pay rent or vacate the premises. In this situation, it is time to file an eviction lawsuit.

File an Eviction Lawsuit

An eviction lawsuit, also called an unlawful detainer, is the next course of action if the tenant fails to move or pay rent within three days. The tenancy is terminated, and you have a legal right to your rental property if you win your suit.
You must wait until the lawsuit is over to have a sheriff or marshal come in and physically remove the tenant. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing charges.

Hiring a Lawyer for Tenant Issues

Of course, there are some issues that become more complicated based on contracts, partial rental payments, and possibly damage to the house. If this is the case for you, you want to hire an attorney to ensure that you undergo the process to the letter of the law. Otherwise, you might be facing your own legal issues.
Do you have additional questions about landlord rights? Canelo Wallace Padron & Mackie may be able to help.