What Is a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit?

By Mike Broemmel
the function, a 3-day notice
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The landlord and tenant laws vary from one state to another, in some instances rather significantly. With that noted, some states utilized the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, or similar statutes, to govern the relationships between property owners or managers and renters. Included within the uniform act and similar legislation is what is known as a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit.


The primary function of a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit--typically referred to as a "3-day notice"--is to provide a tenant an opportunity to pay past due rent or voluntarily vacate the premises. Failing to undertake one or another of these options included in the notice exposes the tenant to an eviction lawsuit filed by the landlord.


A common misconception associated with a 3-day notice is that if the tenant vacates, she is relieved of further liability under the lease. In fact, the tenant typically remains responsible for future rent payments under the lease terms even if she vacates. The 3-day notice issues because the tenant violates the lease terms by not paying rent. She is not rewarded for the violation by being relieved of her lease obligations.


A landlord must serve a 3-day notice on a tenant properly. Three primary methods of service apply to a 3-day notice. The best type of service exists when a landlord personally hands the 3-day notice to the tenant. Service can also be made by delivering the 3-day notice to a person of a responsible age living in the rental property. Reasonable age typically is considered to be a person of the age of 12 or older. Finally, "tacking" the notice to the main door to the rental property is appropriate service of the notice. Certified mail is not effective for a 3-day notice because the laws in each state add additional days to the time frame when this delivery course is used.


If the tenant tenders the past due rent during the three day time period, the landlord must accept the payment. Upon the payment, the threat of eviction for non-payment of rent is eliminated. A landlord possesses the right to file an eviction lawsuit immediately after the expiration of the three-day deadline if not rent payment is made and if the tenant remains on the property. The landlord is not required to provide the tenant any additional time to comply.

Expert Assistance

Eviction cases are complex. Therefore, whether you are a landlord or a tenant--whether you issued or received a 3-day notice--consider engaging the services of an experienced attorney. Local and state bar associations maintain directories of attorneys in different practice areas, including landlord and tenant law. Contact information from these organizations is available through the American Bar Association at:

American Bar Association 321 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60654-7598 312-988-5000 abanet.org

About the Author

Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.