Legal Information: California

Housing Laws

Updated: 
January 2, 2017

What documents or proof do I need to give to my landlord to get out of my lease if I am a victim?

You have to complete the following 2 steps to terminate your lease:

Step #1: You must make sure that you have one of the following:


  • a temporary restraining order, emergency protective order, or protective order from a court that protects you or your household member from further domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of an elder or dependent adult, or human trafficking; 
  • a copy of a written report from a peace officer stating that you or your family member filed a report due to an act of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of an elder or dependent adult or human trafficking; or
  • documentation on letterhead from a qualified third party (such as a caseworker for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking or a nurse, physician, etc.) that verifies that you or your household member is seeking help for physical or mental injuries or abuse resulting from an act of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, elder abuse, or dependent adult abuse.*   There is a very specific format that this letter from a qualified third party is supposed to be in -- see section (b)(3)(B) of the law where it says "Tenant Statement and Qualified Third Party Statement."

Step #2: You must give your landlord written notice that you are terminating your lease based on domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of a dependent adult, or human trafficking along with a copy of one of the documents described in Step #1 (i.e., the restraining order, emergency protective order, protective order or documentation).  This must be given to the landlord within 180 days of when you received the temporary restraining order, emergency protective order, or protective order or within 180 days of when you reported the domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of an elder or dependent adult or human trafficking.** 

Note: If you have a month-to-month lease, the notice may be given within the regular timeframe for terminating a monthly tenancy, which is at least 30 days' written notice.***  In this case, you may decide not to reveal your status as a victim to your landlord and simply terminate your tenancy in the time allotted by law.  For legal advice on whether or not to use this law to terminate a monthly tenancy, you may want to seek advice from a lawyer.  Go to our CA Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.


You may also want to check out our Staying Safe page for more information and ideas on how to keep yourself and your family safe.


* Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(b)

** Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(c)

*** Cal.Civ.Code §§ 1946.7(c); 1946