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How to Properly Serve a Residential Eviction Notice in California

Posted by attorney Douglas Wright

Once you’ve prepared the eviction notice, you need to make sure you serve the notice properly. There are a few options: first, you can do it yourself or have a friend to do it. These are the least expensive options. Second, you can hire a process server. This service will cost you money. The only hard and fast requirement is the person who serves the notice must be at least 18 years old.

If you’re serving a three-day notice, there are 3 ways to serve the document:

  1. Personal service: You give the notice directly to the tenant in person.
  2. Substituted service: If the tenant is not home, you can leave the notice with a member of the household, at least 18 years old, where the tenant lives. You then need to mail a second copy to the tenant at the property.
  3. Posting and mailing ("nail and mail") service: If no one is home to properly serve the notice, you can tape or nail the notice to the front door or somewhere where it can be seen easily. You must send a copy by mail to the tenant at the property.

If you’re serving a 30, 60 or 90 day notice, you can utilize any of the methods described above, or in the alternative, you can send the notice via certified or registered mail, with a return receipt requested. Keep in mind, using this method can delay the eviction process if the tenant refuses or fails to sign for the notice in the mail.

Additional resources provided by the author

Douglas A. Wright is a partner with Wright, Ryan & Anderson, A Professional Law Corporation. Doug owns and operates, an online eviction service representing property owners and managers throughout California. Contact Mr. Wright at (530) 243-7500 or visit

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