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What are my options if I'm in a lease but the living situation is untenable?

Redding, CA |

My roomate and I were once boyfriend/girlfriend. That didn't work and we moved out. Later, he convinced me that we could just be friends and roomates. Being a single mother who cannot afford a place of my own I took him up on it. It was okay at first, but then he became pushy to restart the relationship. When I refused he became belligerant, screaming and pounding walls. My daughter and I now remain locked in our room when he is home. He often screams horrible things at me through the door. He has not struck me, but the situation is escalating to the point where I fear for my safety. I don't know what to do. I must keep a clean rental history so I don't want to get break the lease, but I would gladly move out otherwise.

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Attorney answers 3


Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

If there is any danger to you or your child, you need to move out immediately. Perhaps you can speak to your landlord and see if the landlord is willing to release you from your lease obligations, or allow you to take on a subtenant in your place. Be sure to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.


You might be entitled to early lease termination under California law. In California, effective January 1, 2009, 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 is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


If you fear for you or your child's safety leave. Also report his behavior to the police. You can get a restraining order if he becomes violent or threatening especially since there is a minor involved. Contact the landlord, explain the situation to him. Did you both sign the lease? Were any personal guarantees made? He may let you out under these circumstances or else agree if you pay another month or 2 to let you go. But take action immediately for the benefit of your child.