Yes, there is a difference. If the summons is not personally served, then there are only two other ways to effectuate service of the 3-day notice.
To effectuate substituted service, the person serving the notice must leave the notice with a person of "suitable age and discretion" at the tenant's home or work and also mail a copy of the notice to the tenant at home. A person of suitable age and discretion normally would be an adult but could be a teenage member of the household. Service of the notice is legally complete when both of these steps have been completed. The three-day period begins the day after both steps have been completed.
For posting and mailing, if the landlord can't serve the notice personally or by substituted service, the notice can be served by taping or tacking a copy to the rental unit in a conspicuous place (such as the front door of the rental unit) and by mailing another copy at the rental unit's address. (This service method is commonly called "posting and mailing" or "nailing and mailing.") Service of the notice is not complete until the copy of the notice has been mailed. The three-day period begins the day after the notice was posted and mailed.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.