Know the Laws: California
UPDATED June 4, 2012
This section discusses a law that allows a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking to break his/her rental lease without penalty.
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, or stalking. 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, or stalking, you can click on each 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 not a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking 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. For basic tenant and landlord rights with contact info for legal assistance, click here.
You can get protection if you meet both of the following:
If you have a roommate(s) who is listed as a tenant on the lease, your roommate(s) will not be affected if your lease obligations are terminated under this law. Your roommate is still bound by the lease even if you are allowed to get out of your lease.*
* Cal.Civ.Code §1946.7(f)