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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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My niece, and her friend Jan are in a lease together. has

Customer Question

Hello,
My niece Ann, and her friend Jan are in a lease together. Ann has been coming home from work for the last month to Jan doing odd things that worry her. When Ann came home from work last night with her boyfriend, Jan came out of the room and turned on the stove then went back in the room for 20 minutes. Ann turned the stove off and Jan became angry. Ann and her boyfriend went out on the balcony to get away from Jan. Jan heated up some grease on the stop and went out on the balcony and threw it on Ann's boyfriend and began fighting Ann. The neighbors say it and called the police. Jan is now in jail for battery. When Ann got home from the hospital, Jan's parents came into the apartment and threatened Ann. Ann talked to the apartment manager about changing apartments and was told that she had to work things out with Jan. Ann and her boyfriend are going to press charges but she is afraid of Ann's parents because they have a key to the apartment. Is there a way she can break the lease without penalty?
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 5 months ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

I am sorry to learn of this situation.

This is a very difficult situation. However, there are a couple of things that can be done.

Ann's boyfriend can (and should) continue to follow up with the County Prosecutor's office and the police department to ensure that battery charges are filed and prosecuted against Jan.

Ann can request a civil restraining order against Jan (she can get information on these orders from the District Attorney's Office Victim's Assistance division, as well as the County Law Library, and the TX Attorney General's Website). But given that she is already working with local law enforcement, I would recommend that she start there.

Ann can also request a civil restraining order against Jan's parents if they are making threats against her. Furthermore, these individuals are not on the lease, and they should not have access to the apartment. The landlord has an obligation to ensure that the unit is secure against non-tenants and should rekey the unit providing new keys to both Ann and to Jan clearly labeled "DO NOT DUPLICATE" so that no licensed locksmith will make second copies.
If Jan's parents come to the property without Jan being present again, Ann can contact law enforcement and report them for trespassing. If they threaten her she should contact them using 9-1-1.

Unfortunately, as to dealing with the lease, while Texas does have a Domestic Violence lease termination provision, the statute is drafted narrowly, allowing victims of domestic or dating violence to terminate a lease without penalty. It does not allow other co-tenants who are victims of violence to similarly terminate their lease. However, this does not mean that all is lost.

The two roommates can terminate a lease early, and the landlord has an obligation to try to re-rent the unit (the current tenants are liable for rent until (1) the end of the lease term or (2) until the landlord finds a new tenant using reasonable efforts). Most courts limit this period to 2-3 months (this is a "rule of thumb" and not intended to substitute for the legal standard identified above).