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Is there anyway to end a lease if you are being stalked and harrassed?

Salem, OR |

My boyfriends ex girlfriend has been stalking us for nearly 2 years. She follows him to work at 430am, she has slashed my tires 2 times, vandalized our house and sent threat messages. Since we do not have video evidence the police cant charge her for the crimes and unless she acts upon the threats she cant be charged on that. We cant get a restraining order, and we need video/pic evidence of her following us to get a stalking order. At 430am it is dark and hard to take pic when driving We asked about ending the lease due to the stalking/harrasment and were told it would cost $990 since there are no laws to protect a tenant who is being stalked/harrassed.She shows up in the middle of the night pounding on doors/windows, the police cant help us and we are stuck living here.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

While I confess I am not totally shocked by the responses you have gotten from the police, I believe the could and should do something. My recommendation would be to talk to an attorney who has experience in handling police misconduct cases. (civil rights violations for example). You need help in getting local law enforcement's attention. With respect to the lease, the stalking situation is basically irrelevant since the landlord has nothing to do with it nor any obligation under the lease to prevent it. Not sure that moving is even an answer to the problem, but you need to examine the lease and consider discussing that as well with an attorney. The lease question is pretty basic stuff that the attorney you secure to deal with the real problem can probably help you out. Good luck.

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Posted

Get a temporary restraining order. Make sure it is served properly. Then if she returns, call the police.

Your landlord is not responsible for that, and it doesn't have anything to do with your lease.

Clark County, NV practitioner.

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Ryan Alexander

Ryan Alexander

Posted

Check Costco for those new digital camera security systems. Maybe the landlord will chip in to buy/install it if you agree to leave it.

Posted

I changed your practice area to landlord-tenant because this is not really a criminal defense question (you aren't being charged with a crime).

A stalking order requires at least two unwanted contacts and you can seek one yourself through the courts, rather than the police. If you can show proof of the threatening messages and vandalism, that will help your case greatly. But remember, it has to have happened at least twice and it has to be unwanted. Has your boyfriend ever asked her not to contact you anymore? Have you made police reports? Have you considered installing cameras like the other poster suggested?

I agree that you probably cannot get a restraining order because of the lack of a familial relationship. There might be an option here if she and your boyfriend have a child together, "cohabitated," or were in a sexually-intimate relationship within the past 2 years. If you want to read a bit more about whether he (it wouldn't be you) qualifies for a restraining order, here's a link to a brief guide I wrote on the topic: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/restraining-order-101-family-abuse-prevention-act

I also like the other posters idea about asking the landlord to install security cameras for you and having an attorney review the lease to see if any of the provisions help you. You could probably get an attorney to talk to you about all three options. Many attorneys will do a consultation free of charge if you ask them to. I for one would be happy to discuss this case with you because you raise some interesting issues.

My responses to posts on AVVO are not legal advice, nor do they create an attorney-client relationship. In order to provide true (and reliable) legal advice, an attorney must be able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather the appropriate information. In order for an attorney-client relationship to exist, you and I both have to agree the the terms of such an agreement.

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Asker

Posted

We have asked her on several occasions to leave us alone, we added additional features to our cell phone plan to block all numbers she had contacted us from, we are only allowed a maximum of 30 blocked numbers so we blocked the number we knew as her cell/home phone but she would use other phones to contact us so it was hard to keep up with whos number was calling us. we changed numbers and she obtained the new numbers and began calling and texting again so we blocked those numbers but she would log into an instant messaging service and sent messages to the phones that way and there is no way to block that method of contact unless we blocked all text/picture messages from being sent/received to our phones. we had blocked her from facebook but she would make other accounts or use her friends accounts to message us.she began adding friends from our list in attempts to access our page. she would log into her moms facebook to send us absurd messages of her being found dead etc. she would send us messages via xbox and once we changed security settings on that she would create new names and send friend requests to us. they do not have any children together. we have shown the police the slashed tires, a letter written from the manager of the tire company stating that my tires were slashed with a knife or other sharp object, a print out of the threat messages where she had also made reference to the slashed tires and they told us that is not proof enough for a case agaisnt her. when questioned by the police she told them that I commited these crimes to myself in order to set her up and I made a fake account in her name and sent myself threat messages. The police said since there is no way to prove who made the facebook account they can not assume it to be her, and even with all the threats she can not get in trouble for that unless she truly tried to attack me. The complex has no camera systems and we dont have extra money to buy our own. We have reported every issue to the police and at this point they seem more irritated in our calls. We have had ongoing issues with late night knocks on the door, it is always in the middle of the night so by the time we wake up and come downstairs there is no one at the door.

Asker

Posted

The girl lives less than half a mile from us, and our apartment is the one at the front of the complex and is also on the end which makes it quick and easy to get in and get out without getting caught. We have been looking into moving to a different part of town but the landlord says we do not fall under any of the laws allowing us to break a lease without consequence. I have someone interested in taking over the lease and the manager told me I am not allowed to do that either, althought that is the way I came to live here by taking over the lease from a friend. I just feel stuck and do not want to continue to buy tires or worry about vandalisim. I can not afford to pay the nearly $1000 lease break fee, but do not wish to continue staying here since the issues keep occuring

Orion Jacob Nessly

Orion Jacob Nessly

Posted

It sounds like you can probably prove at least two contacts and show that they were unwanted. I suggest going to an attorney to get a stalking order (not through the police). The stalking order will allow the police to arrest her if she continues to harass you. It may also allow you to get out of the lease under ORS 90.453.

Posted

The landlord tenant portion of the answer is found in ORS 90.453 "Termination by tenant who is victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking"

This section of statute explains exactly what has to be given to the landlord in the form of a verification statement proving the stalking. It is rather specific in its requirements and anyone seeking to help you get a restraining order should also review this statute up front to make sure they lay the groundwork to satisfy the requirements of this section.

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Asker

Posted

I had read into that and gave a 5-6 page print out of the ongoing incidents. I asked the landlord if I was protected under that law and she told me I was not. I then called the owner of the complex who forwarded my messages to the onsite landlard so she left me a bitter message again telling me that I am not protected under any law and can not be cleared on things unless I pay $990. That is why I was very confused.

Michael Aaron Shurtleff

Michael Aaron Shurtleff

Posted

Dear Asker, You can only take advantage of the protection and benefit of this statute by following its directions explicitly. When a statute allows someone to terminate a rental agreement causing potential hardship to a landlord it must place boundaries on that right and require people to prove that they are covered within those boundaries otherwise potentially anyone who wanted to break a lease could just refer to the statute and qualify. The landllord and the manager are not attorneys and have no obligation or incentive to try to guide you through availing yourself of the protection of the statute. Technically you are not protected by the law...yet. To be protected by the law you must take all the steps it lists to take advantage of its protections.

Orion Jacob Nessly

Orion Jacob Nessly

Posted

I agree with Mr. Shurtleff's advice and think that the provisions under ORS 90.453 were an excellent suggestion. "Verification" in your case means actually getting the stalking order (especially, because the police won't arrest her). Until you get such an order and then give the landlord 14 days notice, they have no obligation to let you out of the lease.

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