What housing laws can protect me if I need to break my lease?
There is a housing law in California that allows you (the tenant) to terminate your lease before it expires if you, a member of your household, or an immediate family member is a victim of any of the following crimes:
- domestic violence;
- sexual assault, which means 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;
- abuse of an elder or dependent adult;
- human trafficking;
- a crime that caused bodily injury or death;
- a crime that included the showing, taking out, brandishing, or using a firearm or other deadly weapon or instrument; or
- a crime that included the use of force against the victim or a threat of force against the victim.1
You will not be considered to have violated (breached) your lease if you properly terminate your lease under this law.2
Note: If you are a victim of one of these crimes mentioned above, and you are not asking to terminate your lease, there still may be reasons why a landlord can terminate your tenancy. To read what the law says about when a landlord can terminate a victim’s tenancy, go to our Selected California Statutes page. If you have questions about your housing rights, you can get information on an anti-discrimination law called the Fair Housing Act here and information on basic tenants’ rights with contact info for legal assistance here.
1 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(a)
2 Cal.Civ.Code § 1946.7(f)