Your Eviction: Have You Been Properly Served?

An eviction is an unlawful detainer lawsuit. As with any lawsuit, the court requires you have proper notification that  legal action is being taken against you. This gives you the opportunity to respond and protect yourself. In an unlawful detainer lawsuit, you are protecting your tenant rights.

For an eviction, the 3-day notice that the landlord gives you must be properly served. There are three ways to give you notice:

  • Personal Service: To be personally served, the person giving you the notice must hand it to you. If you refuse service, she can leave it with you.  If you are personally served, the three day period begins the day after you are served.
  • Substitution Service: If the person trying to serve you can’t find you, she can serve someone who “is of suitable age” and has discretion. This could be an adult or a teenager over 18 years old. Substitution service can be at your home or at your work.  The three day period begins the day after the substitution service.
  • Posting and Mailing: This is also known as “nail and mail.”  If the person serving the papers cannot find you or someone else to substitute serve, they can affix the notice to a conspicuous place on your unit, like a door. Then they must mail another copy to you at your home address. The three day period begins the day after the notice has been put on your front door AND mailed. It does not begin on the date you receive it.

The rules to give you proper notice must be followed by the landlord. Sometimes the landlord will make errors in how you are served. However, you may want to consult an attorney knowledgeable in tenant law to ensure that you are best defending your renter’s rights.


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Mary Catherine Wiederhold

Real Estate Attorney
1458 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Mary Catherine Wiederhold
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Courtney Brown
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