Can I terminate the lease on the grounds that my boyfriend is physically abusive?

Full Question:

I moved in with my boyfriend to an apartment that is leased out in my name situated in Norfolk, Virginia. I had no idea staying with him would reveal a different side to him. He is physically abusive and I fear for my life. I have more than 8 months to go before my lease expires. Do I have a legal remedy to terminate the lease and move out of here as soon as possible?
12/28/2016   |   Category: Landlord Tenant   |   State: Virginia   |   #28943

Answer:

Yes, the Virginian tenancy laws provide for an early termination of lease by victims of family abuse, sexual abuse, or criminal sexual assault. A tenant who is a victim of family abuse may be protected from eviction (1) if she notifies the landlord of the abuse and the landlord then bars the perpetrator from the dwelling unit, or (2) if she obtains a protective order against the perpetrator.

Va. Code Ann. § 55-248.21:2 is the statutory provision that governs early termination of rental agreements by victims of family abuse, sexual abuse, or criminal sexual assault.

It reads:

“A. Any tenant who is a victim of (i) family abuse as defined by § 16.1-228, (ii) sexual abuse as defined by § 18.2-67.10, or (iii) other criminal sexual assault under Article 7 (§ 18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2 may terminate such tenant's obligations under a rental agreement under the following circumstances:
   1. The victim has obtained an order of protection pursuant to § 16.1-279.1 and has given written notice of termination in accordance with subsection B during the period of the protective order or any extension thereof; or
   2. A court has entered an order convicting a perpetrator of any crime of sexual assault under Article 7 (§ 18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2, sexual abuse as defined by § 18.2-67.10, or family abuse as defined by § 16.1-228 against the victim and the victim gives written notice of termination in accordance with subsection B. A victim may exercise a right of termination under this section to terminate a rental agreement in effect when the conviction order is entered and one subsequent rental agreement based upon the same conviction.
B. A tenant who qualifies to terminate such tenant's obligations under a rental agreement pursuant to subsection A shall do so by serving on the landlord a written notice of termination to be effective on a date stated therein, such date to be not less than 30 days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due and payable after the date on which the written notice is given. When the tenant serves the termination notice on the landlord, the tenant shall also provide the landlord with a copy of (i) the order of protection issued or (ii) the conviction order.
C. The rent shall be payable at such time as would otherwise have been required by the terms of the rental agreement through the effective date of the termination as provided in subsection B.
D. The landlord may not charge any liquidated damages.
E. The victim's obligations as a tenant under § 55-248.16 shall continue through the effective date of the termination as provided in subsection B. Any co-tenants on the lease with the victim shall remain responsible for the rent for the balance of the term of the rental agreement. If the perpetrator is the remaining sole tenant obligated on the rental agreement, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement and collect actual damages for such termination against the perpetrator pursuant to § 55-248.35.”

In the case at hand, per the above-quoted provision, the victim of domestic abuse may intimate the landlord of the intension to vacate  30 days prior to the date on which the next month rent is due. They also have to provide a copy of (i) the order of protection issued or (ii) the conviction order in instances of domestic abuse with the notice. The landlord may not charge any liquidated damages per the above-quoted provision.