In a recent Los Angeles County Appellate Division decision, the Court found that a landlord must put a physical address for a tenant to pay rent on a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. Foster v. Williams provides some insight into how a landlord must comply with the Code of Civil Procedure when filling out a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
Plaintiff, Landlord, filed an unlawful detainer action based upon a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. The Notice was served on Defendant, Tenant. The 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit stated that rent was to be paid on a website and provide instructions on how to make a payment on the website. At trial, Tenant argued that the Three Day Notice was defective because it did not comply with Code of Civil Procedure Section 1161(2), which requires an “address.” Landlord argued that a web address falls within the term “address” while Tenant argued that “web address” did not fall within “address” because a physical address was required. Tenant had been paying rent for about one year online through the website.
At trial, the Court agreed with Landlord, so Tenant appealed. On appeal, the Court found that a web address does not constitute an address for a 3 Day Notice. Section 1161(2) did not intend to include web addresses because an address is listed in order for a tenant to pay rent physically to a person, not via a website.
Although 1161(2) allows for electronic payments or payments made directly to an account, it does not account for web payments. Further, 1161(2) also allows for mailing of rent payments if physical delivery is not available. Again, it does not provide any criteria for web payments.
A web payment is not an electronic payment under Section 1161(2) because the 3 Day Notice did not provide for the language that states an electronic procedure has already been established. Without that statement, a web payment option would be invalid in a 3 Day Notice.
Since the Court found that the 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit was defective, tenant ultimately won the case. This case provides important reasons why a 3 Day Notice must be properly drafted and served because if it is found to be defective, the entire unlawful detainer is defective.
Further, within the City of Los Angeles, a landlord cannot require a tenant to pay rent electronically or online. A landlord must provide an alternative option to paying rent online or electronically.