In order for certain documents to be enforceable, you have to be able to prove that you delivered them to your tenants. The most likely documents that a landlord typically has to deliver include a formal “Change in Terms of Tenancy,” a “3-Day Notice for Nonpayment of Rent” or a “Termination of Tenancy” that gives the tenant 30 or 60 days to vacate the property. These are important documents that need to be delivered correctly in order to be enforceable. In order to have the support of the legal system, representatives of the court need to be confident that your tenants were properly notified of their responsibilities.
As much as we love technology, it is simply not appropriate for this particular process. You cannot provide some information, including the notices listed above, by text or email. You have to provide a written letter and it has to be “served” properly. There are three ways you can make this service.
You can personally hand deliver the document to the person(s) named in the document.
You can hand deliver the document to another person at the property. This is called “sub-service.”
You can “post” your document at the property if the person(s) named in the document is absent.
Prior to serving the notice, make sure you’ve named all tenants on your document. Include any additional adults that you believe are living at the property, even if they’re not actually tenants. As a measure of best practices, we also include the phrase “all other occupants and Does 1-99.” In addition to the notice being served, you certainly should create a supplemental document – a “Proof of Service” – that concisely identifies what document was created, how it was processed, and how it was served. Procedurally, service to one named individual is considered service to all individuals. Accordingly, on our proof of service, we account for HOW we delivered the doc, WHO we delivered it to, WHEN and WHERE we delivered it. Regardless of the method of delivery, we create this proof of service for all important documents.
Any time you sub-serve or post a document (as opposed to personal service), you must also deliver a copy of the same notice by USPS first class mail. Please note, the mailed copy should strictly be first class, not “certified” or “return receipt requested.” At DeDe’s Rentals, we mail a copy EVERY time we deliver something important, even if we ultimately hand-deliver the document to our named tenant. Again, we consider this to be an instance of “best practices.” We make a photocopy of the addressed envelope, with all necessary identifying features. Since our agency regularly uses a metering system for our mail, that photocopy is automatically “date-stamped” to identify when we put it in the mail. It is important to be precise on when the document is both mailed and physically served, because most notices have a time-sensitivity and an “expiration date” – either 3, 30 or 60 days. The date you complete ALL steps of proper process service becomes “Day Zero,” and is not included in your count of 3, 30 or 60 days.
The court system will support you in enforcement only as long as everything is done properly, so make sure you document and handle this entire process correctly.
If you have any questions about proper and acceptable service to your tenants, I strongly recommend that you contact an attorney or hire a process service company, either of which can handle this very precise process for you. Few property managers are also attorneys, so need to be careful that they refrain from practicing law. However, many proficient professional property managers are typically able to handle this process in the regular course of providing their other management services.
Landlord Education How to Properly Deliver Important Documents to TenantsPlease feel free to contact us at DeDe’s Rentals if you need any assistance or have questions on this or any other topic. We’d be glad to help.