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


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.

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