Proper service of an eviction notice can make or break your case. Differing from service of process in litigation, an eviction notice can be served by the landlord or an agent of the landlord. As previously discussed in another blog, certified mail is the best way to serve and eviction notice, however, personal service can still be achieved. There are different tiers to personal service and each tier must be attempted with due diligence before moving to the next tier.
Before we get into the different tiers, let's discuss due diligence. There is no definition of due diligence in the statutes, but we know what works in the courts. It is widely accepted that due diligence means three different days at three different times of day. After you complete due diligence in one tier, you can move onto the next.
The first tier is personal service on the tenant. After you attempt due diligence, you may leave a copy of the notice at the tenant's residence with some competent member of the tenant's family at least 14 years of age, who is informed of the contents. However, it is important to note that if you aren't sure of a child's age you should avoid serving them and wait for an adult who you know for sure is over the age of 14.
If this doesn't work, you can leave a copy of the notice with any competent person who is apparently in charge of the premises. If you choose to do this, you must also mail a copy of the notice by regular mail to the tenant's last-known address. If all else fails, you can affix the notice to the tenant's door and also mail a copy of the notice to the tenant's last-known address.
No matter what option you choose, keep very detailed notes of what you do. Most courts require an affidavit of service for the eviction notice, so it is best to get in the practice of filling one out every time you serve a notice. Improper service of an eviction notice is one of the five permitted defenses to an eviction action. Make sure you eliminate your tenant's ability to raise it as a defense. When all else fails, please contact our office for help with service!