Often times rental agreements give grace periods of 5 days after the 1st day of the month for the tenant to pay rent before it is deemed late. Review your lease to determine the day rent becomes late. If the tenant has until the 5th to pay rent, you must wait until the 6th before you may serve a 3 day pay or vacate notice. Giving a notice prior to rent being late may make that notice void and thus not allowing a landlord to bring a proper eviction action.
Prepare the Notice
The key to a proper 3 day pay or vacate is for it to contain language that states that the tenant has an option. He or she must pay the rent that is late within 3 days or alternatively vacate the premises. Without alternative language to either pay or vacate the court may not have jurisdiction to hear your eviction complaint.
Serve the Notice
There are 3 possible ways to serve a 3 day pay or vacate notice.
1) Personal Service - You may serve the notice to the tenant personally by handing them a copy of the notice at the rental property.
2) Serve the Notice to a person residing at the property - This type of service is accomplished by handing the notice to a person residing at the property who is of suitable age and discretion AND mailing a copy through the US Mail to the property address. Service of this notice is not deemed complete until you deposit the notice in the mail.
3) Post Notice on the Door and Mail a copy - This type of Service is accomplished by first knocking on tenants door, and after receiving no answer, posting the notice in a conspicuous place (on the door) AND mailing a copy by US Mail. Service of this notice is not complete unless you first knock and receive no answer and deposit a copy in the US Mail.
4) Create an affidavit of when and how you served the notice, you will need this later.
How to Count . . . for Landlords
Depending upon the type of service you accomplished with the 3 day pay or vacate notice, you may have to count the 3 day period in a variety of ways.
1) Personally served the tenant the notice, the proper way to count the days is to skip the day you served the tenant and begin your count the day after. Thus service on a Monday begins the count on Tuesday and the tenant has until Thursday to pay or vacate.
2) If you provide the notice to a person residing at the tenants apartment or if you post the notice on the door and mail a copy . . . counting changes. Again, you must skip the day the notice was served, but also allow for one additional day due to the mailing aspect of the service. Thus, a notice posted on Monday would start the count on Wednesday.
3) A new Washington Case states that Weekends to count towards the 3 days or 10 days notice.
A landlord may not bring an eviction action until after the expiration of the 3 day pay or vacate notice. Using the proper counting technique and service procedures, calculate the last day for compliance with the notice. If the tenant fails to comply on or before this date, you may be able to start the eviction action. Starting the action too early will deprive the court of the power to hear your case and you may have to start the process over again.
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