Breaking A Lease

Protected Classes 

  • Tenants in active Military Service have special protections and may have the right o break their lease 
  • Tenants who are victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault also have special protections and may have the right to break a lease early . Use our sample letter here

Key Rights & Responsibilities 

  • Read the NOLO tenants' rights handbook 21st edition chapter on  breaking a lease here
  • Tenants who sign a lease have entered an agreement to pay the rent for the entire lease term - just moving out doesn't get you off the hook! 
  • BUT landlord have an obligation to "Mitigate damages" (CC § 1951.2.) This means the landlord has to make reasonable efforts to find a new tenant as soon as possible
  • Once a new tenant is found and is paying rent on the unit, the landlord cannot "double" charge you for the rent as well 

Severe Habitabiity - Leaving Before the Lease is up 

  • If a tenants' dwelling is severely uninhabitable and hasn’t been made
    so despite your complaints and repair requests, a tenants has
     the right to move out. This will discharge
    you from any further obligations under the rental
    agreement or lease because the landlord is not fullfilling their obligation under the agreement. (CC § 1942(a).) Only do this if there are truly drastic
     serious problems, such as the lack of essential services, or
    unsafe or unhealthy conditions. Make sure to document the issues and get official reports (from code enforcement) if possible so as to protect yourself 

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