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What legal recourse do I have against my landlord? Month to month rental agreement.

Mountain View, CA |

Two weeks ago I informed my landlord that one of the roommates in the house I rent in was smoking marijuana and crack cocaine and made my entire room smell of drugs while I was hosting a weekly bible study.I told him I feel unsafe having this person live in the house and that his drug use is directly impacting me. He then confronted the tenant and shared this information with him.Last night,the tenant began physically threatining me because I "told on him".Minutes later, he entered my garage and came into my room where I was and started pushing me and continued to make threats.I called the police and they warned the tenant to stop harassing me. Now the landlord is asking me to leave.Is this unjustifiable eviction?Is it illegal that he divulged this information to the tenant?What can I do?

Attorney Answers 2


It is hard to say. For all we know, the landlord might also be smoking marijuana too. I think the landlord is trying to ensure the "quiet enjoyment" of all tenants, but perhaps made the wrong judgment call as to which tenant to remove.

Maybe it would be better if you moved out, since you are on a month to month rental agreement?

Even if you had a fixed term lease, you could probably terminate it early. There is a law in California effective January 1, 2009 whereby, under certain conditions, a tenant who was the victim an act of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking may terminate the tenancy by written notice to the landlord. California Civil Code section 1946.7 does not require that there be a finding of domestic violence, only that there be a police report showing that domestic violence was alleged. If this situation applies to you, you may notify your landlord in writing that you or another household member has been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and that you intend to move out. However, you would still be responsible for payment of the rent for 30 days following your notice. You are required to attach to your notice to the landlord a copy of the temporary restraining order, emergency protective order, or police report, within 60 days of the day such order or report was issued or made. Civil Code section 1946.7 (f) provides: "Nothing in this section relieves a tenant, other than the tenant who is, or who has a household member who is, a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and members of that tenant's household, from their obligations under the rental agreement."

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with your own attorney.

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Marijuana and crack cocaine are treated very differently under the law, including landlord-tenant law. Crack cocaine is an illegal drug which means the other tenant is breaking the law. In contrast, possession of marijuana in relatively small amounts is merely an infraction similar to a traffic ticket. The landlord probably has a right to divulge the information to the other tenant since he was, in theory, warning him to correct his behavior in order to protect your right to "quiet enjoyment." Whether and how your landlord has the right to evict you depends on the type of tenancy you have: month-to-month or term. It is far more difficult for a landlord to evict you if you signed a lease for a certain term. If it is month-to-month it is much easier, so long as the landlord follows the proper procedure and provides you with the proper amount of notice, as required by law. Ultimately, however, I agree with the previous attorney -- if this is not the type of environment you want to be living in, you should be the one to leave. Illegal drug use by other tenants is strong evidence that your right to quiet enjoyment has been violated and even breaching a term tenancy agreement is likely justified under those circumstances.

This reply is provided for information purposes only and does not represent legal advice or an attorney-client relationship.

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