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October 25, 2018

California Adopts Change to Landlord-Tenant Notice Periods

California Adopts Change to Landlord-Tenant Notice Periods

“What a difference a day makes.” That difference can mean a lot to tenants according to supporters of California Assembly Bill 2343. The bill, which was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 5 of this year, will not take effect until September 1, 2019. It modifies the way in which days are counted in the matter of certain notices that landlords are required to provide to tenants.

Specifically, those notices are the ones known as (i) a three-day notice to pay or quit, (ii) a three-day notice to perform a covenant (duty) under the lease, and (iii) a five-day notice to file an answer to an unlawful detainer (eviction) suit. Crucial to such notices, as is the case with performance clauses in contracts, is defining how days are to be counted.

Under current California law, for the notices in question, the days to be counted begin with the first day after the notice is served. However, if the last day for performance is a weekend or holiday, it is excluded from the counting. (California Code of Procedure §12).

Some examples:

1. If, on Monday, I am given a three-day notice to pay, then I must pay within the days Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

2. If I received the three-day notice on Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday are counted, but Saturday and Sunday are excluded from being performance days. The final day for performance would be Monday, provided it is not a holiday.

3. If I receive the notice on Friday, and Monday is a holiday, then my last day for performance would be Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, as well as the Monday holiday, are included in the counting, they just can’t be required as a performance day.

AB 2343 changes current law with respect to which days can be counted when a tenant is given notice. Now, not only are weekends and holidays not days when performance can be required, but also, they are not days to be included in the counting. The only days to be counted are so-called court days, i.e. Monday through Friday, provided that none is a holiday.

When the new law becomes effective, if I am served with a three-day notice on Friday, counting will not begin until Monday. My last day for performance, presuming no holidays are involved, would be Wednesday.

Does this make a big difference? It probably would if you only had Monday to deal with paperwork, perhaps secure a loan, or any of a number of easily-imagined scenarios. Proponents of the bill had stated “Legal services programs throughout the state report that they are visited by frustrated tenants every day who are able to resolve the situations leading to their eviction, but not within the extremely narrow time provided by California law.” This was a particular concern with the five-day notice to respond to an eviction filing.

As it is, the original version of AB 2343 sought considerably more than what survived through the amendment process. The original version had proposed that the three-day notice periods be extended to ten days, and that the five-day notice period be extended to fourteen.

The bill was co-sponsored by the Western Center on Law and Poverty and the California Rural Legal Foundation. It also had the support of a variety of tenants’-rights groups. The bill was opposed by, among others, the California Apartment Association and the California Association of Realtors® (CAR). After the amendments, CAR withdrew its opposition.

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