Evicting a tenant in West Virginia can take around 1 to 3 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
Depending on the grounds for eviction, the landlord must give proper notice and provide the tenant a chance to cure the violation.
|Nonpayment of Rent
|End of Lease or No Lease
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 month and is considered late in West Virginia the day immediately after its due date. West Virginia landlords are not required to give tenants a rent payment grace period.
If rent is due on December 1st, it will be considered late starting on December 2nd, unless the lease specifically states there is a longer grace period.
Once rent is considered late, the landlord can immediately file an eviction action with the court.
End of Lease or No Lease
In West Virginia, a landlord can evict a tenant who does not have a lease (“tenant at will”) or has a lease that has terminated and continues to remain on the premises (“holdover tenant”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving a proper 30 days’ notice to move out.
Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.
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.
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, a landlord can evict a tenant if they commit an illegal activity. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant an amount that the trial court sees fit.
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.
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
In West Virginia, all evictions follow the same process:
- Landlord serves tenant written notice of violations
- Landlord files complaint with court for unresolved issues
- Court holds hearing and issues judgment
- Writ of possession is issued
- Possession of property is returned to landlord
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
Landlords should always keep the original signed notice and declaration of service as proof of proper service if the case proceeds to court.
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 days to move out.
For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:
|Rent Payment Frequency
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
- 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.
Step 3: Court Holds Hearing and Issues Judgment
The eviction hearing will be scheduled for 5-10 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 5 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.
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.
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.
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 Serving Writ of Possession
|~1-21 Business Days
|Final Notice Period
|1-3 Calendar Days
Flowchart of West Virginia Eviction Process
West Virginia Eviction Court Fees
The cost of an eviction in Washington D.C. for all filing, court, and service fees can vary based on the court’s venue and service fees. For cases filed in Magistrate Court, the average cost is $80. For cases filed in Circuit Court, the average cost is $250.
|Initial Court Filing
|Writ of Possession Service
|Notice of Appeal Filing (Optional)
- 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)