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November 23, 2010 > New law empowers victims to break leases to escape abuse

New law empowers victims to break leases to escape abuse

Submitted By Officer Robyn Berlin, Fremont PD

California has passed a new law allowing victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to break their leases early, to move away from an abuser. The law will also protect the victim from being charged additional rent or fees once they move out.

The lease termination law, which went into effect September 27, 2008, allows people who have a restraining order or a police report to end their leases without owing additional rent. It applies to both private and subsidized housing.

In most cases, if a person moves out from the apartment before the end of lease he/she can be held responsible for all the rent that would be owed until the lease expires. The landlord can sue the tenant for his/her money. This law allows the victim to terminate the lease early, leave the unit, and no longer be required to pay rent. The victim will be responsible for rent for up to 30 days after notifying the landlord that he/she is moving out, but not afterward. The law applies only if the person is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and meets certain criteria.

To use this law, the victim must notify their landlord in writing that he/she was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and that they want to end the rental agreement. The notice must be dated. According to the law, the victim must give the landlord at least 30 days notice before the rental agreement can end.

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