Suppose a tenant has a neighbor who has taken it upon themselves to verbally threaten and harass said tenant.

Due to the inherent risk of engaging with the neighbor, the tenant contacts their landlord to inform them of the situation and request their assistance. The landlord either opts not to assist, or the assistance is ineffectual and the threats escalate to death threats.

After a few months of this harassment, which progresses further to property damage, the tenants escalate the issue to the police who eventually arrest the unruly neighbor. Unfortunately, the neighbor cannot be held long-term as said neighbor makes bail. Upon recognizing this, the police advise the tenant that it is likely not safe for the tenants to remain in their home.

Due to this escalating threat, the tenant moves into a hotel after advising their landlord of the situation. Said landlord informs them that they are still liable for the rent.

Given the costs of the hotel plus rent aren't feasible, can the tenant elect to break their lease, and if so, how would they do so with minimal impact to their credit?

1 Answer 1


California Civil Code 1946.7(a) says that

A tenant may notify the landlord that the tenant intends to terminate the tenancy if the tenant, a household member, or an immediate family member was the victim of an act that constitutes any of the following... (3) Stalking as defined in Section 1708.7

and stalking is "a pattern of conduct the intent of which was to follow, alarm, place under surveillance, or harass the plaintiff", with various other conditions also being applicable. It is not sufficient to just allege such harassment, you must attach documentation in the notice to landlord. This means that you must first serve proper notice to terminate the tenancy – you can't just walk away. There has to be some qualified third-party documentation, such as a written police report. It is not required that the victim actually sue and win a case against an alleged stalker.

  • 3
    This is a good answer, but it might help to include the description in (e) of what happens after such notice is given: "If notice to terminate the tenancy is provided to the landlord under this section, the tenant shall be responsible for payment of rent for no more than 14 calendar days following the giving of the notice, or for any shorter appropriate period as described in Section 1946 or the lease or rental agreement. The tenant shall be released from any rent payment obligation under the lease or rental agreement without penalty."
    – Ryan M
    Dec 4, 2021 at 5:04

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