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My roomates and I recently found out that the house we are renting is in foreclosure. When we asked our landlord about it...

Vallejo, CA |

He told us that it was "none of our business what is happening between him and the bank" and that the house is NOT in foreclosure (we called Solano county and verified it is.) We told him we understood, but that he still needed to fulfill his obligations as a landlord, mainly a major problem with the house flooding in winter (now.) He has not made the necessary repairs and the house has flooded yet again. We have not paid rent hoping this would encourage him to fix what was wrong with the house and yesterday he served us a 3 day notice to pay or quit. The notice was addressed to Stephanie (my name is Tiffany) was backdated FOUR days, listed the rent as $3,000 (it is $1,450) and did not show an address or acct # to send payment too. Is this notice even legitimate? What should we do?

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Attorney answers 5


The requirements for a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit are very particular. The notice must be in writing and accurately state:

The full name of the tenant or tenants;
The address of the rental property;
The exact amount of rent that is due. The notice cannot go back more than 1 year and cannot include anything other rent, e.g., no interest, late charges, utilities or other damages;
The dates the overdue rent is for;
The rent must be paid within three days of receiving the notice or the tenant must move out;
The days and times the tenant can pay the rent he or she owes, and the address and telephone number he or she can pay it at. If the tenant can pay the back rent by mail, give the address the tenant should send the money to. Keep in mind, the law assumes that the rent payment is received by the owner on the date of postmark;
Alternatively, the notice may state the name, street address and account number of the financial institution where the rent payment may be made (if the institution is within five miles of the unit), and if an electronic fund transfer procedure was previously established for paying rent, payment may be made using that procedure; and
Be signed by the landlord or his or her agent, and state the date of the notice.
If your notice fails to comply with any of these requirements, the Court will dismiss an unlawful detainer case because of the improper notice.

You can withhold rent under certain circumstances but I do not have enough information to provide an answer to that questions.

Douglas A. Wright is a licensed California attorney (SBN 239112) who owns and operates The information presented in this response is general in nature under California law and is not intended, nor should be construed as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. Furthermore, if you're a tenant and your landlord hires me to evict you, you expressly waive any conflict of interest based on any response provided herein. For specific advice about your particular situation, you should consult your own attorney.


I would defer to my California colleagues, but there is a right and a wrong way to withhold rent and you should speak to a landlord/tenant attorney right away.


Dear Tiffany, et. al.: I specialize in eviction defense law and other housing issues. I have much experience in helping people in your situation. My office is at city hall in American Canyon. I would like to see if I can help you. We can set up an appointment to discuss options. 707-815-0088


Jeremy V. Reyes


You have very specific rights under federal and California state law as bona fide tenants in a property at risk of foreclosure. The links included with this answer are to the LSC funded legal assistance program that serves your community and a California non-profit that focuses on foreclosure/eviction matters. Contact these agencies immediately. Good luck with this.

This is not a substitute for a consultation with an attorney or advocate with a background in foreclosure related landlord-tenant law.


The Notice to Pay Rent or Quit is fatally flawed. If the landlord files an Unlawful Detainer action based on this Notice, and you file an answer, make sure that your answer reflects all of the above. The 3-Day Notice cannot double to rent due, and must show an address where payment must be made. No matter what, your landlord obviously does not know what he is doing, and once it gets to Court, he will lose his case. If you hire an attorney to represent you, the landlord will have to pay your attorney's fees.

James Coy Driscoll

James Coy Driscoll


The landlord would only have to pay the tenant's attorney fees if the lease called for payment of attorney's fees.

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