Technically any landlord under the unlawful detainer statutes may serve a three-day notice to a tenant who fails to comply with his obligations under his lease or rental agreement. Most often these three-day notices are served when a tenant does not pay rent. But the law also permits such notices when the tenant does not comply with other covenants in the rental agreement or lease as well.  

Particularly in rentals that are governed by rent control, courts will not look favorably at a notice and later attempt to evict if the notice appears to be pretext to conceal the true purpose of the eviction. In a recent case, a landlord served a tenant a three-day notice to perform or quit on a tenant (over a three-day weekend) to demonstrate that he had renter's insurance, which he was required to do under his rental agreement but which the landlord had never insisted upon. The trial court agreed with the landlord and the tenant was evicted.  The Supreme Court disagreed and held that the covenant to procure renter's insurance was not a material one since it did not benefit the landlord. And the court looked askance at the landlord's motives.  

The moral of this story is that landlords who rent property subject to rent control need to be very careful when they evict tenants for reasons other than non-payment of rent. Rest assured this landlord  is now being sued for wrongful eviction and retaliatory eviction, claims that carry the right to sue for punitive damages. This landlord is no doubt ruing the day he served his three-day notice to demonstrate that the tenant had renter's insurance.

M. Laurie Murphy