Unfortunately, many domestic violence victims believe they cannot break their lease and move away from their abuser. Civil Code section 1946.7 allows breaking a lease due to domestic violence in California. Under this statute, a survivor of domestic violence can provide his/her landlord with a 14-day notice of his/her intent to break the lease agreement. Certain requirements must be met, however, prior to giving notice. Read on to learn more about breaking a lease due to domestic violence in California.

The Process of Breaking a Lease Due to Domestic Violence in California

In California, a domestic violence victim can break his/her lease early without penalty. Typically, when a tenant moves before his/her lease ends, he/she is responsible for any unpaid rent until the property is leased again. A landlord can sue to collect the unpaid rent. Many domestic violence victims are unaware however that there are special laws that allow them to terminate their lease early.

“This California statute allowed me to legally get away from my boyfriend and get out the lease I had signed with him. ” C. Robertson

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Sara dated Bill for three years before moving in together. After living together for two months, Bill became abusive towards Sara and physically assaulted her on a few occasions. Sara filed a petition for a restraining order and a move-out order. The judge decided in her favor. Bill was ordered to move out of the residence immediately and refrain from contacting Sara. Sara notified her landlord of the court order and provided 14-day notice to move out. Sara will be required to pay rent through the 14-day notice period.

In the above scenario, pursuant to Civil Code section 1946.7, Sara can serve her landlord timely notice to vacate the premises because of domestic violence. The code provides for breaking the lease due to domestic violence and allows a tenant to end the lease under the following circumstances:

  • A valid lease agreement exists;
  • The tenant has a restraining or protective order, or a signed police report referencing domestic violence; and
  • The tenant needs to move out because he/she is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, human trafficking, elder abuse, or dependent adult abuse.

Breaking a lease due to domestic violence in California requires the tenant to notify his/her landlord within 180 days of the protective order being issued. No additional paperwork must be filed with the court to break the lease. If a tenant fails to provide proper notice, he/she may be held responsible for paying unpaid rent. Check out Civil Code section 1946.7 for more information on breaking a lease due to domestic violence in California and how to draft a letter to your landlord when providing notice. This booklet printed by the National Housing Law Project also provide very detailed information regarding this process.

If you are considering breaking a lease due to domestic violence in California, you should contact an attorney. However, if you need helpwith obtaining a restraining order and/or a move out order, contact A People’s Choice. Don’t wait to get the legal relief you need to stop the domestic violence. Call us today at 800-747-2780.

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