Counsel, Advocacy & Representation for California Tenants

Notice to pay rent or quit

We all want to fulfill our obligations, and paying rent on time is always a priority for every tenant. When a tenant cannot pay the rent on time, there is almost always a reason why. Sometimes financial difficulties or emergencies intervene and the rent money is just not available. Other times the tenant may have a legitimate reason why rent is being withheld such as unacceptable conditions at the property that breach the warranty of habitability.There are many other times, however, when the landlord serves a notice in error.

For instance, by posting the notice even after the rent has already been paid, or the notice demanding rent is asking for more money than is actually owed, or perhaps the landlord made an agreement too accept the rent by a certain date, only to turn around and make a written demand for payment anyway. In California, if an landlord wants to demand the rent from his tenant, then he must make the request with a written notice. The law requires that the form and content of those notices follow very specific rules.

  • The notice must state the actual amount of rent owed.  It cannot include late fees or other charges.
  • The tenant must be given an opportunity of at least three days to pay the rent.
  • The notice must explain how and where the rent can be paid and the contact information for the person who will accept the payment.
  • The notice must have a date and accurately describe the tenant’s address.
  • The landlord must make an attempt to give the notice to a resident personally. If no adult is available to receive the notice, then the notice must by posted on the property in plain view and also sent through the mail.

In order to give you the right advice for your situation, we need to know the facts of your specific case.

Every situation is different, and the advice that applies to one person’s circumstance could be wrong for someone else. That’s why we recommend that if you have received a written notice demanding that you pay the rent, call us immediately. Even if your landlord or property manager told you that the notice is just a formality and not to worry, you need to be aware that serving the notice is the beginning of a legal procedure, and you could very well end up in court if you don’t act prudently.

If you aren’t sure about scheduling an appointment to talk about your rights, feel free to tell us about your situation, so we can learn the details of what happened. If necessary, we can schedule a meeting in our office to review the notice, and discuss your options. If we cannot help, then maybe we can guide you to other sources of information and resources.

Get Representation

If you have a situation that is more than a question, and are already having a dispute with your landlord, then information alone is often not enough to settle the matter to your advantage. What most renters need, but seldom have, is an attorney who knows the law, and the landlord’s duties under the law, and is not afraid to advocate for tenants.

Even the most informed tenants can find the court system overwhelming.  Defending against eviction on your own is more than just challenging.  Fort the unprepared and unrepresented it is an ordeal filled with traps.  Tenants who go to court without an attorney frequently enter into bad agreements and suffer humiliation at the hands of the landlord’s lawyers. Having an experienced attorney on your side will make a difference.

Get Informed

If your situation is not a lawsuit in court, but rather a question, or a curiosity about what the law says, there are many places where you can find educational materials, and  every tenant should become familiar with the legal protections for tenants in California law.

Many times the answer to tenants’ legal questions are more complicated than they may first appear.  It’s important to be careful, and not to rely upon every piece of information posted online, or simply accept the advice of friends and neighbors.  Make sure the source of your legal advice is reliable and up to date.

Look around the website and see if we have information to help you.  If you have a question and you can’t find an answer,  click here to send us a comment.  An attorney that specializes in advocating for tenants will reply, and can direct you to the resources you need. 

Don't go to Trial unprepared

Written notices demanding the payment of rent, notices that threaten the termination of your lease, accusations of illegal activity, and notices of changes in terms and conditions of a lease from a landlord or property manager are often the prelude to legal action.  They must be taken seriously.  It is critical for tenants to respond to notice from a landlord intelligently and prudently.

Before you agree to excessive rent increases, or allow the oppressive actions of the owner or management intimidate you, meet with a professional.

Information, early in time, is the key to success.  Often times becoming informed can help you to avoid being on defense.  If you are not able to avoid litigation, then consult with an attorney who stands with tenants and defends their rights.

Don't Waste Time

When a tenant has a legal conflict with the landlord, there is often only a short period of time to act.  Under California law, landlords are usually required to give notice to tenants before they resort to legal action. However, most of these legally required notices give a tenant only three days to act.  When a tenant fails to act within the three days then the landlord can proceed to court.

Once an action to evict (also called unlawful detainer) is filed against a tenant in court, it can move very quickly.   Landlords enjoy a unique legal procedure, which is known as a summary proceeding.   Once a tenant is sued in court, and then served with an unlawful detainer summons, then he or she has only five days to respond.

If your landlord has sued you or is threatening to sue you, then you must act quickly. Hesitation and uncertainty can lead to a loss of money, loss of security and the loss of your home. Don’t wait.  Schedule an appointment for a consultation  immediately to discuss your case.