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Breaking your lease in cases of violence

A resource for survivors of violence

Credit: CNN

As a tenant you absolutely have the right to walk out of your lease if you’ve experienced any type of violence in your home, which is honored under California Civil Code 1946.7. The types of violence this typically covers include: domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, stalking, elder abuse, and dependent adult abuse. Many cases of harassment, abuse or violence are covered and considered, and there are many definitions that must be delved into further.

The person affected may be the tenant, co-tenant (another person on the lease) or a household member (someone related by blood or marriage) to the abuser. There are specifications of what qualifies and what process you must go through to move out legally and what the landlord is allowed to recover in your absence. The most common issue that arises is domestic violence. Domestic violence includes: battery, assault, sexual assault, harassment, false imprisonment, forced entry with risk of harm, or any kind of force to manipulate someone to do something (NRS 33.018). This also includes any minors or children that may be one of the tenant’s. There are legal titles and chapters that further specify what stalking, sexual assault, and the other types of violence committed are designated as that we can help you understand and uncover.

Once you have become a victim of any of these types of crimes of abuse, harassment or violence, you must let your landlord know through a formal process. California Civil Code 1946.7 designates that you essentially must have either: a restraining order, a police report, or documentation from a qualified third-party (such as a therapist or counselor). You have to give your landlord 30 days’ notice; if you are month-to-month you usually can give 30 days’ notice anyway so you wouldn’t need other documentation in that case.

From the landlord’s perspective, they can collect rent in those thirty days during which you are still there after giving notice, but then afterwards whoever is remaining in the unit must cover your rent. Importantly, the notice you give the landlord must be in writing and dated, and we can help you prepare this document. You can leave the unit once you give your landlord the notice but will still be responsible for the rent. Unless you consent or the court requires it, the landlord must keep the information confidential. The landlord must also return your security deposit just as if you were normally moving out.

If you have questions or concerns, or believe you have a case, feel free to reach out to our firm.

Aziz Yellin LLP

(408) 600-0726

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.


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