Can we legally break the lease due to mental illness?

06/01/2007 - Category:Landlord Tenant - Lease Termination - State: VA #6098

Full Question:

My son is 25 years old and signed an apartment rental lease starting April 1, 2007. He has obsessive compulsive disorder and aspergers syndrom (a form of autism) which we told the apartment complex before he moved in. Its only been 2 months but my son found he cannot handle living on his own. Can we legally break the lease due to mental illness?


You should carefully read the terms in your rental agreement regarding the duration of the lease and methods for terminating the lease. You may be able to enter into a separate agreement with the landlord to terminate the lease due to mental illness, especially since you disclosed the illness up front.

The applicable Virginia statutes are as follows:

Section 55-222. Notice to terminate a tenancy; on whom served; when necessary.
A tenancy from year to year may be terminated by either party giving three months' notice, in writing, prior to the end of any year of the tenancy, of his intention to terminate the same. A tenancy from month to month may be terminated by either party giving 30 days' notice in writing, prior to the next rent due date, of his intention to terminate the same. In addition to the termination rights set forth above, and notwithstanding the terms of the lease, the landlord may terminate the lease due to rehabilitation or a change in the use of all or any part of a building containing at least four residential units, upon 120 days' prior written notice to the tenant. Changes shall include but not be limited to conversion to hotel, motel, apartment hotel or other commercial use, planned unit development, substantial rehabilitation, demolition or sale to a contract purchaser requiring an empty building. This 120-day notice requirement shall not be waived; however, a period of less than 120 days may be agreed upon by both the landlord and tenant in a written agreement separate from the rental agreement or lease executed after such notice is given and applicable only to the 120-day notice period. When such notice is to the tenant it may be served upon him or upon anyone holding under him the leased premises, or any part thereof. When it is by the tenant it may be served upon anyone who, at the time, owns the premises in whole or in part, or the agent of such owner, or according to the common law. This section shall not apply when, by special agreement, no notice is to be given; nor shall notice be necessary from or to a tenant whose term is to end at a certain time.
The written notice required by this section to terminate a tenancy shall not be contained in the rental agreement or lease, but shall be a separate writing.

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06/01/2007 - Category: Lease Termination - State: VA #6098

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