West Virginia Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on West Virginia landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the West Virginia Landlord Tenant Code.

WV Landlord Tenant Law:

  • West Virginia Code Chapter 37, Article 6 - Landlord and Tenant
  • West Virginia Code Chapter 37, Article 6A - Residential Rental Security Deposit
  • West Virginia Code Chapter 55, Articles 3A - Relief for Wrongful Occupation

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging $25 to $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)]

For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number)
  • current address
  • signed consent (e.g. "I authorize the use of the information and contacts provided to complete a credit, reference, and/or background check.")

Avoiding Discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.

In addition, West Virginia landlord tenant law disallows landlords from rejecting someone as a renter because of blindness or ancestry.

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Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be written or verbal.

The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

West Virginia landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to West Virginia landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the West Virginia Security Deposit Act [WV 37-6A-4]

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Security Deposit

The landlord can ask for non-refundable application or pet fee as long as the tenant agrees to it in the written rental agreement. [WV 37-6A-1.(14)]

There are no West Virginia landlord tenant laws on security deposit holding methods and security deposit interest.

Deductions and Returns

West Virginia landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions (under West Virginia landlord tenant law) include [WV 37-6A-2.(b)]:

  • Rent owed and late rent fees
  • Property damage due to tenant violating the rental agreement
  • Utility bills owed by the tenant (that the landlord ended up paying for)
  • Moving and storage costs of the tenant's abandoned belongings

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. [WV 37-6A-2.(a)(2)] *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 60 days (45 days if a new tenant is moving into the property before that). This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.

This deadline is shortened to days if the property is being This deadline is 45 days if the rental unit is occupied by a subsequent tenant. [WV 37-6A-1.(7)]

If the security deposit isn't enough to pay for property damages and a contractor has to be hired for repairs, the landlord has to inform the tenant in writing. In this case, the landlord has additional 15 days to give the tenant an itemized list of damages and repair costs. [WV 37-6A-2.(C)]

If the landlord deliberately fails to follow West Virginia landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can recover 1.5 times the amount of deposit wrongfully withheld. [WV 37-6A-5]

After the lease terminates, the landlord has to keep records of all security deposit deductions for at least one year. If the tenant or tenant's agent request for this record, the landlord shall give the tenant or tenant's agent a copy within 72 hours. [WV 37-6A-3]

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Charleston, West Virginia WV

West Virginia Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

Late Rent

There are no WV landlord tenant laws on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

There are no specific West Virginia landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The West Virginia Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition [WV 37-6-30]:

  • Delivery: Deliver the property to the tenant in habitable condition
  •  Obey all health, safety, fire and housing codes
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe (for multiple housing units)
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable (except for damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant or related person)
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal (for multiple housing units)
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating between 1 Oct and 30 Apr

The landlord isn't required to perform the above duties if the tenant is late in paying rent. [WV 37-6-30.(c)]

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Property Access

There are no West Virginia landlord tenant statutes on when and how the landlord can enter the property.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When does the landlord require the tenant's permission to enter the property?
    Examples: Making repairs, supplying essential services, inspecting for damages, showing property to prospective buyers or tenants
  • How long in advance should the landlord inform the tenant before entering the property?
  • When is the landlord allowed to enter the property without the tenant's permission?
    Examples: Handling emergencies (such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion), tenant has abandoned the property
  • What are the penalties if the tenant refuses the landlord's valid request to enter the property?
  • What are the penalties if the landlord enters the property without the tenant's permission or without a valid reason?

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Subletting

There are no specific West Virginia landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Morgantown, West Virginia WV

Morgantown, West Virginia WV

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, West Virginia landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance [WV 37-6-5]:

Week to week tenancy

1 week

Month to month tenancy

1 month

Year to year tenancy

3 months

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

See below

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is damaged by fire, disaster or unavoidable accident (that is no fault of the tenant or related people), the rent amount shall be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable. [WV 37-6-28]

The landlord has to repair the property damage within a reason amount of time. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement.

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Eviction

According to West Virginia landlord tenant law, the landlord may evict the tenant from the property for the following reasons [WV 55-3A-1]:

  • Tenant did not pay rent on time
  • Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties
  • Tenant caused (or allowed others to cause) property damage due to abuse or negligence

Unlike most states, the landlord does NOT have to give the tenant a written notice to quit before filing an eviction lawsuit. After the lawsuit is filed, there will be a court hearing within five to ten days.

Once the time and place for the court hearing is fixed, the landlord shall send the tenant a written notice stating that the tenant has to submit any eviction defense to the landlord in writing within five days.

Unlawful Eviction

The landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

If the tenant abandoned the property owing rent, the landlord or landlord's agent shall post a written notice at (a highly visible part of) the property stating that the tenant must pay all rent owed within one month. If rent isn't paid within one month, the tenancy shall terminate and the landlord can regain possession of the property. In this case, the tenant shall have to pay rent up to the termination date. [WV 37-6-6.(a)]

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

Once the landlord has regained possession of the property, the landlord shall give the tenant a written abandonment notice stating the following:

  • Property is considered abandoned
  • Tenant has 30 days to remove his or her abandoned belongings from the property or storage
  • If abandoned belongings aren't removed within 30 days, they shall become the landlord's possessions

The landlord has to post this notice at a highly visible part of the property AND send a second copy (in an envelope labelled " Please Forward") by first class mail to the rental unit. If landlord knows the tenant's P.O. box or forwarding address, the landlord has to send a third copy to there too.

If the belongings are worth more than $300, the landlord has to give the tenant 30 additional days to remove them IF the tenant informs the landlord that he or she intends to remove the belongings and is willing to pay for their moving and storage costs.

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Resources

West Virginia Landlord Tenant Law:

West Virginia Landlord Tenant Handbook: Tenant's Guide to Eviction in West Virginia

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