Legal Information: California

Housing Laws

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Updated: 
January 11, 2024

If I reveal that I am a victim to my landlord, can s/he tell other people?

A landlord is not allowed to share any information that you provide unless:

  • you consent in writing;
  • the law or a court order requires the landlord to so do; or
  • the person that the landlord is talking to is the “qualified third party” who provided the written documentation for you that states that you are a victim. In that case, the landlord is allowed to call that person to verify what is written in the documentation.1

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(i)

Once I notify my landlord that I want to end my lease, do I still have to pay my rent?

Once you send the written notice to your landlord, you still have to pay your rent for the next 14 calendar days unless the landlord rents the premises to someone else during that 14-day period and then the rent you owe will be prorated.1 For example, let’s say you give notice and you leave on September 30th and you pay rent through October 14th. Then the landlord gets a new tenant who moves in October 7th. You can ask to be reimbursed half of your rent that you paid for October.

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(e)

If I end my lease under this law, will I lose my security deposit?

The landlord cannot keep your security deposit to penalize you for breaking your lease under this law. In addition, if you paid rent in advance, you will not have to give up (forfeit) that advance rent.1 The same laws that apply to all tenants for security deposits apply to you as well. In general, a security deposit can be kept by a landlord, in whole or in part, to reimburse the landlord for damage you cause to the apartment, aside from ordinary “wear and tear”, cleaning, key replacement, or back rent owed.2

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(f)
2 See CA Courts website

If I end my lease, will my roommate or family members be kicked out of the residence?

If your roommate or family members are listed as “tenants” on the lease, their tenancy still continues, even if you end yours.1

1 Cal.Civ.Code §1946.7(g)

If I terminate my lease, will that harm my chances of renting a new apartment?

The law says that landlords cannot refuse to rent an apartment to someone who is otherwise qualified solely because the tenant terminated a lease under this law that protects victims.1

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(j)

What can I do if the landlord doesn't follow this law?

You can sue your landlord in civil court if the landlord or someone acting on his/her behalf (an “agent”) breaks this law. There are two different categories of money (“damages”) that you can sue for:

  1. “Actual damages” is money to repay you for any losses or injuries you had.
  2. “Statutory damages” is an amount of money between $100 and $5,000 that the law says the judge can give.1

However, whether or not the judge can give you statutory damages depends on the proof of abuse that you gave your landlord. The judge cannot give statutory damages if you only gave the landlord “any other form of documentation that reasonably verifies that one of the qualifying crimes occurred.” This means that you can only file for statutory damages if you gave your landlord one of the following as proof of the abuse:

  • a restraining or protective order;
  • a police report; or
  • a letter from a qualified third party, such as a counselor, case worker, psychologist, doctor, etc.2 

1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(k)
2 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(k)(2)(B)

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