Before a landlord files an action for unlawful detainer (eviction), the tenant must be in a state of unlawful detainer first. Otherwise the landlord risks not only having his action dismissed by the court but also having to pay the tenant’s attorney’s fees.
In most cases, a written notice must be served on the tenant to place that tenant in unlawful detainer. The most common is the three day notice to pay rent or vacate. Other common notices are the notice to terminate a month to month tenancy and the ten day notice to comply with a lease provision or vacate.
Notices are critical for the tenant because they provide a time period for the tenant to avoid unlawful detainer. Unfortunately this time period can be quite short. The worst thing a tenant can do when receiving any written notice from their landlord is to ignore it because filed unlawful detainer actions are public records and can be found by those conducting rental history checks. Even if the notice is correct and the tenant is unable to comply with the notice, it is better for the tenant to communicate with the landlord and attempt to reach an agreement that avoids the filing of an unlawful detainer action.
For the landlord, the notice requirements are absolutely critical because the court will not even address the merits of the case without proper notice to the tenant. The notice needs to be correct in form, content and in service. A landlord also needs to provide to the court proof of service of the notice through a written declaration. A landlord’s failure to correctly give his tenant notice can increase his costs in both time, his attorney’s fees and potentially paying the tenant’s attorney’s fees.