If I’m currently living in a house with 3 other tenants but 1 of them has threatened me, is there a way to break the lease so that I can leave?

We have signed a year lease but 2 nights ago, 1 of the tenants threatened me stating she was going to snatch me up by my throat and stab me in my sleep. I don’t feel comfortable living here anymore and would like to leave.

Asked on January 19, 2013 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Unless the presumed written lease that you have with the landlord has a written provision within it allowing you to cancel your lease without any legal recourse over the facts that you have written about, I do not see that you can do what you want.

I suggest that you consult with your landlord about a possible release from the lease that you are bound to or subleasing out the portion of the property that you rent to another person.

You should consider making a police report over what was said for your safety as well as to consider getting a restraining order against the threatening roommate.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It is understandable why you would want to leave. Unfortunately, your roommate's or co-tenant's threats do not give you the right to terminate your lease early without penalty. The lease is a contract between you and the landlord; your obligations to the landlord are not affected by the criminal actions or threats  of other people, including a fellow tenant. If you leave or break the lease early, the landlord could withhold your security deposit; sue you for any amounts you owe for the remainder of the lease, if those amounts are in excess of your deposit; you could potentially be sued by your fellow tenants for your share of the rent, if they pay it for you to avoid eviction; and your credit rating could be damaged. This is more of a police matter--a threat against your life--then a landlord-tenant matter.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.