Dana Point, CA asked in Contracts and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: I need help breaking my lease so that I can move. I cannot afford the rent. It is rent or food. What options do I have?

I live in San Clemente, CA.

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2 Lawyer Answers
John Francis Nicholson
John Francis Nicholson
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Woodland Hills, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You can break your lease if the landlord has materially breached the lease - meaning the landlord has not performed an important duty that is subject to the lease. If the landlord has been performing their part pursuant to the terms of the lease then they are entitled to the rent.

However, keep in mind the following circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic:

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on March 27 banning evictions of renters for the next two months. The order bars landlords, police and courts from enforcing eviction notices until May 31. The order takes effect for rents due on April 1. The order only applies to tenants who are not already behind on their payments.

I believe this applies to the filing of unlawful detainers, meaning landlords cannot even file an action until after May 31. However, the Orange County Superior Court, like other superior courts, is in flux and orders from the Presiding Judge are being amended and updated regularly.

It is likely that the prohibition of filing eviction cases will be extended as the novel COVID-19 pandemic is persistent and will be here for months and possibly toward the end of the year before many people are allowed to go back to work on a full time basis. Also, the state and the governor recognize that residential tenants in most cases are not working and have no money to pay rent.

If you have to make a decision to pay rent or buy food for your family, I suggest that you buy food, contact your landlord to understand their position, and keep track on the Orange County Superior Court website for further orders re: COVID-19 that will be issued.

1 user found this answer helpful

Manuel Alzamora Juarez
Manuel Alzamora Juarez
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Berkeley, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You and family must eat. So, that is your choice, however under the Covid 19 resolution you can ask for a rent reduction. If you cannot pay your rent after the two months, you will eventually get evicted. Talk to your landlord and proposed a repayment plan and current rent. Best of luck.

1 user found this answer helpful

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