Steps of the eviction process in West Virginia:
- Landlord serves tenant written notice.
- Landlord files complaint with court (if unresolved).
- Court holds hearing & issues judgment.
- Writ of possession is issued.
- Possession of property is returned to landlord.
Evicting a tenant in West Virginia can take around one to three months, depending on the eviction type and whether a jury trial or removal to circuit court is requested. If a writ of possession is required, the process could take even longer.
Grounds for an Eviction in West Virginia
In West Virginia, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include not paying rent on time, staying after the lease ends, violating lease terms or not upholding responsibilities under West Virginia law. Even so, proper notice must first be given before ending the tenancy.
|Nonpayment of Rent||Immediate||No|
|End of / No Lease||30 Days||No|
Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent
In West Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. No prior notice is needed and the landlord may immediately file an eviction action with the court. The tenant does not have the option to fix the issue and must vacate the premises.
Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each pay period and is considered late in West Virginia the day immediately after its due date. So for example, if rent is due on the first of the month, it is considered late starting on the second of the month (if not paid in full). There is no right to a legal grace period (i.e., five days).
Once rent is considered late, the landlord can immediately file an eviction action with the court.
Eviction for No Lease or End of Lease
In West Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant without a lease or with a lease that has ended (known as a “holdover tenant” or “tenant at will”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving proper notice to move out (30 days for tenants that pay month-to-month).
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
Eviction for Violation of Lease or Responsibilities
In West Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under West Virginia landlord-tenant law. No prior notice is needed and the landlord may immediately file an eviction action with the court.
Tenant responsibilities include:
- Abide by all health, safety, fire and housing codes.
- Maintain dwelling unit so it is in a fit and habitable condition.
- Informing landlord of any necessary repairs.
Examples of lease violations:
- Having an unauthorized pet, guest or vehicle.
- Parking in an unauthorized area.
- Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness.
Illegal Evictions in West Virginia
In West Virginia, any of the below is illegal.
No matter the situation, a landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:
- Changing the locks.
- Shutting off utilities.
- Removing tenant belongings.
Unlike most states, West Virginia does not have a state statute outlining specific types of self-help evictions. A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant an amount that the trial court sees fit.
It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. While West Virginia law doesn’t outline specific legally protected rights, most states recognize the following as retaliatory actions:
- Complaining about habitability issues to the landlord or any authority tasked to enforce the law.
- Pursuing a legal right to remedy habitability issues.
If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant an amount that the trial court sees fit.
Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant
A landlord can begin the eviction process in West Virginia by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:
- Giving it to the tenant in person.
- Giving it to a member of the tenant’s family who’s over the age of 16 (if tenant cannot be found).
- Mailing it to the tenant via regular mail.
It is important for a landlord to always maintain a copy of the signed and served notice as proof of proper service of notice.
30-Day Notice to Quit
For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in West Virginia, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 calendar days to move out.
For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Amount|
If the tenant remains on the property after the notice period expires, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
No Notice Required
In West Virginia, if a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) or if a tenant commits a violation of the terms of their lease or does not uphold their legal responsibilities as a tenant, no prior notice is required. The landlord may immediately proceed with filing an eviction action with the court.
Step 2: Landlord Files Lawsuit with Court
As the next step in the eviction process, West Virginia landlords must file a complaint in the appropriate magistrate or circuit court. Fees are the same statewide, and vary based on which court the case is filed in.
In Magistrate Court, filing fees range from $30-$50, depending on the amount of back rent or other damages owed. In Circuit Court, the filing fee is $200 regardless of how much is owed.
Generally, the summons and complaint are the only notice a tenant will receive alerting them of the landlord’s eviction plans.
The summons must be served on the tenant before the hearing, by anyone over the age of 18 who isn’t part of the case via one of the following methods:
- Giving a copy to the tenant in person;
- Leaving a copy at the rental unit with the tenant’s family member;
- Mailing a copy via certified mail, with a return receipt; or
- Publishing a copy of the summons and complaint (only if all other methods fail).
If the summons is not served on the tenant within 120 days, the eviction action may be dismissed, and the landlord will need to begin the process all over again.
Up to 10 days before the hearing; however, if the landlord cannot show proof the tenant received a copy of the summons and complaint within 120 days, the hearing will be dismissed.
Step 3: Court Holds Hearing & Issues Judgment
The eviction hearing will be scheduled for 5-10 judicial days after the date the landlord requests a hearing.
If the tenant chooses to file a response to the complaint, it must be done within five days of receiving the summons; however, the tenant is not required to file an answer to attend the hearing.
If the case is heard in Magistrate Court, either the landlord or tenant could request that the case be “removed” to the Circuit Court, if the amount of past-due rent or other damages is over a set dollar amount. This could add another 7-10 days to the process.
If the judicial officer rules in favor of the landlord, the judicial officer will choose when a tenant has to move out of a rental unit. This could be immediately after the hearing or even a few weeks later.
Appeals. Tenants may file an appeal if the court rules in the landlord’s favor; however, if the lease term or rent period has already expired, the tenant may not be allowed to remain in the rental unit during the appeal. Even if the appeals court rules in the tenant’s favor, the tenant may not be allowed to move back into the rental unit.
If the tenant doesn’t move out by the court-ordered date, a landlord may need to return to court to obtain a writ of possession, depending on the type of eviction case that was filed (which is not the same as the reason the tenant is being evicted).
5-10 business days after the request for hearing is made. If the landlord or tenant requests a jury trial or asks to remove the case to circuit court, this will add more time to the process.
Step 4: Writ of Possession Is Issued
Depending on which type of hearing it is (i.e., unlawful entry/detainer, ejectment, or removal of tenant), the sheriff may already be scheduled to appear at the final day of the court-ordered deadline to remove the tenant. In those instances, no writ of possession is required.
However, in other cases, if the tenant fails to move out by the end of the court-ordered deadline, the landlord must return to court and request a separate writ of possession to forcibly remove the tenant.
A few hours to a few weeks, depending on whether a writ of possession is required and how quickly the landlord requests the writ from the court once the original move-out deadline has passed.
Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned
If the tenant doesn’t move out by the judicial officer’s deadline, the sheriff will return to forcibly remove the tenant.
Depending on the type of eviction case (i.e., unlawful entry/detainer, ejectment, or removal of tenant) this could happen on the final day of the court-ordered deadline, the day after the deadline, or only after a landlord has returned to the court and requested a writ of possession.
If a writ of possession is required, this will add more time to the process.
A few hours to a few days. If the tenant doesn’t move out at the end of the original court-ordered deadline, the sheriff could return that day or several days or weeks later, depending on the type of eviction case it is and when the landlord requests a writ of possession (if required).
West Virginia Eviction Process Timeline
In West Virginia, an eviction can be completed in 1 to 3 months but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.
Below are the parts of the West Virginia eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.
|Initial Notice Period||30-90 Calendar Days|
|Court Issuing/Serving Summons||10-120 Calendar Days|
|Tenant Response Period||5 Business Days|
|Court Ruling||5-10Business Days|
|Court Serving Writ of Possession||~1-21 Business Days|
|Final Notice Period||1-3 Calendar Days|
Flowchart of West Virginia Eviction Process
For additional questions about the eviction process in West Virginia, please refer to the official legislation, West Virginia Code §55-3A-1 through 55-3A-3, §37-6-1 through 37-6-30 , and West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4, for more information.
- 1 WV Code §37-6-19 (2019)
- 2 WV Code §37-6-23 (2019)
- 3 WV Code §37-6-5 (2019)
- 4 WV Code §55-3A-1 (2021)
- 5 Imperial Colliery Co. v. Fout, 373 S.E.2d 489 (1988)
- 6 WV Rules of Civil Proc, Rule 4 (2019)
- 7 WV Rules of Civil Proc, Rule 4 (2019)
- 8 WV Code §55-3A-1 (2019)
- 9 WV Rules of Civil Proc, Rule 4 (2019)
- 10 WV Rules of Civil Proc, Rule 4 (2019)
- 11 WV Code §55-3A-1 (2019)
- 12 WV Code §55-3A-1 (2019)