West Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws

Landlord Tenant Laws of West Virginia

Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, there are several statutes in West Virginia that govern tenancy and leasing. Each state has their own statutes, but many adopt similar or identical rules. Some issues have no statutes on one state while another will have passed regulations. Knowing the rights and responsibilities of both parties can make your renting experience smoother and more enjoyable. Although we discuss a number of statutes, linking to the official source. If you are having issues, we encourage you to become informed and then seek legal advise. While the list of regulations we include is extensive, it is not all inclusive, so as always, you should do your own research.

That said, in West Virginia, there are several laws that regulate landlord tenant issues, rights and responsibilities. We have used the following sources in researching these rules:Tenant and Landlord regulations can be found in West Virginia Statute § 37-6-1 to 37-6-30, “Remedies for the Unlawful Occupation of Residential Rental Property” AKA Eviction rules are listed in West Virginia Statute § 55-3A-1 to 55-3A-3, Miscellaneous rules West Virginia Statute § 55-2-1 to 55-2-22.

Additionally, there are a number of rules and regulations made available in the following Pdf versions:

Do I Need a Lease?

Although you can rent without a lease, it is unwise to do so. A lease is a written contract that protects both the tenant and landlord. Leases will contain security deposit amounts, pet deposits, fees, rent amount and due date. Also included may be a move in walk through checklist that will be invaluable when moving out if there are issues, such as a stain on the carpet or other imperfection. A lease may include a predetermined date of termination. Having everything that is required of the both parties in the written form of a lease can save you a lot of problems during your tenancy and after moving out. You can always contact your local West Virginia Association of Realtors with any questions you may have regarding leasing.

West Virginia regulates certain aspects that are contained in the lease, such as late fees, which are allowable as agreed to in the lease § 37-6A-2(b)(1). Returned check fees are allowable up to $25 § 61-3-39e. Interestingly enough, there are no statutes regulating rent, the date it is due, notice of increase, grace periods, prepaid rent. Additionally there are no statutes that govern withholding rent by the tenant for repairs or allowing tenant to withhold rent if the landlord fails to supply basic essentials such as water, heat and trash removal.

There are no statutes governing court costs and attorney’s fees for landlords that may incur such expenses or for early termination of lease and abandonment of the property fees. Regarding mitigation of damages to lessee and re-rental of abandoned property, the landlord has the right to hold the lessee responsible for rent for the remainder of the lease, or may re-rent the property. If re-renting, the landlord must inform the tenant of this intention. However, the tenant will still be responsible for the remaining term of the lease, and for the difference between and rent received from re-renting. If the landlord holds the tenant responsible for the rest of the lease, the tenant may recover their possessions once any unpaid rent is paid and any other obligation is met as outlined in the lease § 37-6-7, § 37-6-8.

Security Deposits

The state of West Virginia makes no statutes regarding security deposit maximum, security deposit interest, pet deposits, receipt of deposit or regarding holding deposits in a separate bank account. Non-refundable deposits are allowed under statute § 37-6A-1(14) as long as it is agreed upon by both parties in writing. West Virginia also regulates return of the security deposit, requiring the deposit be returned within 60 days of vacating the rental property or 45 days after the property is leased to a new tenant, which ever is shorter with statute § 37-6A-1(7). In the event that damages are present that will cost more than the deposit and will require, the landlord should provide the tenant with a written notice within the time allowed to return the deposit. Once notice has been given, the landlord then has an additional fifteen more days to provide written description and charges incurred according to statute § 37-6A-2(c).

West Virginia restricts the use of security deposits with statute § 37-6A-2(b), allowing them to be used for unpaid rent, including reasonable late fees as agreed in the lease. Damages caused by noncompliance with the Tenant’s duties, but not normal wear and tear can be taken from the deposit. Unpaid utility bills that the landlord may be held responsible for, again as outlined in the lease can be covered by the deposit. West Virginia also allows landlords to withhold the cost to move and store tenants possessions. There are two statutes requiring written description and itemization of damages and costs; § 37-6A-2(a), § 37-6A-2(c).

West Virginia statute § 37-6A-3 requires landlords to keep records of security deposits and monies kept from said deposits for one year after tenancy ends. Landlords must allow the tenant or an authorized person acting for the tenant to examine the records within 72 hours of receiving a written request to review the records.

Consequences

Should the landlord fail to comply with statutes governing the security deposit, failing to act in good faith or purposely withholding the deposit without showing cause, the tenant is entitled to bring suit asking for one and a half times the amount of the deposit that was held plus the deposit itself. Any rent that is owed will be withheld from the amount awarded to the tenant § 37-6A-5. Recovery is limited to $5,000.00 in the Northern and Southern West Virginia small claims courts.

Right to Entry and Notices

Notices given to end tenancy are regulated under statute § 37-6-5. As with most fixed end date tenancies, no notice is required. On month to month tenancy, a 30 day notice is required and on weekly or shorter tenancies, a 7 day notice is required. On a yearly lease, a three month’s notice is required, or as otherwise specified in the lease. All notices must be written.

In the event that a tenant violates the lease, the landlord may file for immediate eviction without written notice. However, written notice shall be made once the matter has been set for hearing in front of a magistrate. For week to week leases and failure to pay rent, the same process for eviction applies. All other evictions also follow the same process. § 55-3A-1

There are no statutes regarding notices for move in/out inspections in relation to date and time. There are also no notices regarding entry to the rental property regardless whether it is for maintenance, pest control, showings, emergency, non-emergency or during an extended absence. Although there is no statute, reasonable notice of 24 hours is expected.

Finally, there are a number of statutes prohibiting lockouts and utility shut offs that protect tenants from such tactics § 55-3A.

Odds and Ends

There other miscellaneous regulations and rules that both landlord and tenant should be familiar with. For example, there are rules governing the responsibilities of the landlord Landlord’s Duties as listed in Statute § 37-6-30. Although there is no law governing the tenants rights and responsibilities, they are outlined in the guide for Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities.

The landlord must disclose lead paint in the home and give the tenant a pamphlet regarding lead and the risks of exposure.

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