Legal Information: California

Housing Laws

Updated: 
January 2, 2017

What is a housing law?

There are many different housing laws that involve rights of tenants and landlords.  The housing law described in this section provides tenant protections for victims of certain crimes and their household members.


There is a housing law in California that allows you (the tenant) to terminate your lease before it expires if you or a member of your family/household is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of an elder or dependent adult or human trafficking.  However, the family member must live in the same household as you (the tenant).*


If you are not sure if you qualify as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of an elder or dependent adult, or human trafficking, you can click on each highlighted term to read the definitions.  For the purposes of this housing law, "sexual assault" is defined as any of the following crimes: rape, unlawful sexual intercourse with person under 18, rape of a spouse, sodomy, oral copulation, or forcible acts of sexual penetration.*

Note: If you are a victim of one of these crimes mentioned above, and you are not asking to terminate your lease (meaning you want to stay in your apartment), there still may be reasons why a landlord can terminate your tenancy even if you are a victim.  To read what the law says about when a landlord can terminate a victim's tenancy, go to our CA Statutes page. 


If you are not a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of an elder or dependent adult, or human trafficking but have questions about your housing rights, here are some links that may be useful: for information on an anti-discrimination law called the Fair Housing Act, click here; for basic tenants' rights with contact info for legal assistance, click here


* Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(a)