California legislators are smoothing the path for tenants facing abusive living conditions to terminate their lease.

When the tenant, the tenant’s immediate family, or the tenant’s household member are survivors of abuse and are seeking to terminate the lease due to the presence of the abuser, they need to provide their landlord with a 14-day written notice terminating the lease. [See RPI Form 587]

The tenant will be responsible for no more than 14 calendar days of rent beyond the date the tenant delivers the notice to the landlord. [Calif. Civil Code §1946.7(e)]

This abuse is defined as:

  • domestic violence;
  • sexual assault;
  • stalking;
  • human trafficking;
  • abuse of an elder or dependent adult;
  • bodily injury or death;
  • use or threat of a firearm or weapon; and
  • the use or threat of force against the tenant.

Along with the written notice of termination, tenants need to provide documentation of the abuse issued within 180 days of delivery of the tenant’s notice to terminate the lease, such as:

  • a copy of a temporary restraining order, emergency protective order, or protective order;
  • a copy of a written report by a police officer;
  • documentation from a health practitioner or counselor indicating the tenant, immediate family member, or household member, is seeking assistance for physical or mental injuries; or
  • any other documentation which verifies the crime occurred. [CC 1946.7(d)]

Additionally, the landlord is prohibited from terminating or failing to renew a lease due to abuse against the tenant, the tenant’s immediate family, or a tenant’s household member.

Beginning January 1, 2023, Senate Bill (SB) 1017 requires landlords to compensate tenants between $100 and $5,000 when they violate a tenant’s right to terminate their lease due to abusive living conditions. Additionally, the landlord is prohibited from retaining the tenant’s security deposit or any advanced rent paid.

Exceptions for evictions   

When the abuser is a tenant in the same unit as the survivor, the court will direct the landlord to follow through with a partial eviction.

The tenant abuser will be removed and barred from the unit. However, the tenant victim — and any other occupants of the unit — are not evicted.

When a partial eviction is ordered, the landlord needs to:

  • cooperate with law enforcement to evict the abusive tenant; and
  • change the locks and provide remaining tenants with the new key.

By partially evicting the abusive tenant, the landlord ensures they are barred from reentering the unit. The remaining tenants may not allow the tenant abuser to live in the unit.

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or

Related article:

Landlords may not prevent or penalize tenant emergency assistance