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I want to break my lease. Can my roommate's drug use help?

Fresno, CA |

My roommate is underage drinking and smoking marijuana, and this bothers me a lot. My apartment lease (by room) has an illegal activity/knowledge of illegal activity clause. Can this help me get out of the lease, if possible, w/out getting her in trouble with the police?

I am the one who wants to move out of this apartment complex, regardless of my roommates behavior. I am wondering if this can help me in any way. The Clause is this (Summary) Resident, any member of the resident's household, or a guest or other person under Resident's control; 1. Shall not engage in criminal activity, including drug-related criminal activity, on or near the Community. 2. Will not permit the dwelling unit to be used for, or to facilitate, criminal activity, including drug-related activity, regardless of whether the individual engaging in such activity is a member of the household or a guest. VIOLATION OF THE ABOVE PROVISIONS SHALL BE MATERIAL VIOLATION OF THE LEASE AND GOOD CAUSE FOR TERMINATION OF TENANCY.

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Attorney answers 2


Generally speaking, no.

As a co-tenant, you wouldn't have the same rights that a landlord would for evicting a tenant based upon illegal drug usage or other illegal activity. Your rights to get out of the lease would depend upon the language of your specific lease.

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, please consult with your own attorney.


It is unclear whether you rent a room from one of the other tenants or from the owner of the dwelling, or whether you're on the lease for the entire unit and just have roommates.
Now, typically to "break" a lease requires some shortcoming on the part of the landlord (typically habitability issues) and all methods require that you give notice to the landlord (I have to fight the roaches for the cornflakes every morning for example) and then give the landlord a reasonable period of time to cure that defect (read 30 days). The "defect" is the behavior of the Miss Linsey Lohan wanna be. The cure is to have the landlord serve her with a 3 day nuisance notice based upon her illegal activities. ("illegal" of course assumes that she isn't one of the million plus card carrying medical marijuana "patients"). Police, not necessary. Cooperation of the landlord, who knows.

A proper response would require a thorough investigation into the history and background of this relationship. The information provided above is just that, information, to be used as you see fit.