Serve eviction papers by substituted service

If your server has made several attempts to serve legal papers to your tenant, but they're never at home or work, you can use substituted service.

What is substituted service?

Substituted service means your server leaves the papers with an adult who lives at the home or is in charge where your tenant works (like a manager). Then, your server mails a copy of the papers to your tenant at the address where they left the papers.

How to serve by substituted service

  • Your server must try multiple times to deliver the papers

    Your server must try to personally deliver the papers to your tenant a number of times. Generally, they must try:

    • At least 2 to 3 times
    • Different days of the week and different times of the day, at times when your tenant is likely to be home or at work

    Your server will need to write down when and where they tried to serve the papers. 

    A judge can allow substituted service if you can show that the server made multiple attempts. 
  • The server hands the papers to someone else on the last try

    On the last try, your server can leave the papers with someone, at least 18, who seems responsible and lives at the house. Or, your server could leave the papers with someone, at least 18, who appears to be in charge, where your tenant works.

    Your server must tell the person they’re giving the papers to that they are legal documents for your tenant.

    Your server must also write down the name of the person they gave the court papers to. If the person will not give their name, the server must write down a detailed physical description.

  • Server mails a copy to your tenant

    Your server must then mail a copy of the papers to your tenant at the address where the papers were left (either home or work).

  • Server writes and sign Declaration of Diligence

    Your server must write a Declaration of Diligence. This explains every time they tried to serve the papers. It must include the dates they went to the house or work, times of day, and what the result was. For example, “No one answered the door” or “Not in the office."

    Your server has to sign this declaration under penalty of perjury. There is no form for this, but your server can use a Declaration (form MC-030).

  • Fill out and copy Proof of Service form

    Fill out a Proof of Service of Summons (form POS-010). Your server must fill out the information about when and were they served the forms. The server signs the Proof of Service and returns it to you, with the Declaration of Diligence

  • Copy and file Proof of Service

    Make a copy of the Proof of Service and Declaration.

    File the original and copy with the court where you filed the Petition. The court will stamp and return the copy.

    Keep the copy of the Proof of Service form for your records.

Once you've served the Summons and Complaint, you've completed the first part of a your case. The court considers your tenant “served” 10 days after your server mails the Summons and Complaint and other forms. After that, your tenant has 5 days (not including weekends or court holidays) to file a response. If they don't, you can ask for a default the next day.

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