LEGAL UPDATES / THREE DAY NOTICES

Arithmetic changes for three day notices beginning September 1

A small child can solve how to count to three, but the arithmetic now gets a little trickier for landlords beginning September 1, 2019, when AB 2343 becomes law. In an effort to give tenants more time to respond to a looming eviction, weekends and court holidays will no longer count toward the three-day window by which residents have to respond,

As an illustration, a three day notice served on a Friday would ordinarily afford the tenant three days to take action and Monday would be the deadline. Under the new law, this is bumped up to Wednesday. Saturday and Sunday is erased off the calendar, as if the tenant is Bill Murray in the Groundhog Day movie.

Let’s assume, though, that Monday is a court holiday. That non-working day, too, doesn’t count toward the expiration of the notice and so the tenant now will have until Thursday to respond - he or she has nearly a full week to stay implanted without doing anything.

As one of the most prolific authors of tenants’ rights bills, it’s with little surprise that our own Assemblymember David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco, was the chief architect of the measure.

“Legal aid attorneys across California have reported incidents in which tenants are presented with a notice on a Friday before a holiday weekend and are essentially barred from correcting a breach of a lease or responding to a court summons because courthouses are closed or they cannot secure legal representation over a long weekend. AB 2343 will restore some fairness to the process and give tenants a chance to stay in their homes.”

~ Assemblymember David Chiu

Although landlords will have to wait longer under the new law, it is not eternity. The original proposal was to allow tenants 10 days to pay back rent and have 14 days to respond to an unlawful detainer action, so it’s not as long as it could have been.

The takeaway for rental property owners

We have said in many venues that time is not on the side of landlords. Unlawful detainer actions can take 6-8 weeks on average, but this deliberate process can drag on longer with clever smoke and mirrors used by tenants' attorneys to delay an inevitable eviction, many of whom are appointed to represent the evictee at no cost to the tenant. The new calculus in three day notices can prolong this process further.

Translation: Landlords should get the ball rolling early on. From our hard-won experience, many owners and property managers are conflict avoiders and kick the can down the road but we dissuade our clients from the wishful thinking that the problem will resolve itself on its own.