According to West Virginia law (WV Code Chapter 37), whenever rent is paid in exchange for living at a property, a lease agreement exists and is considered valid. The agreement establishes rights and responsibilities for tenants such as the right to a habitable premises and the right to not experience housing discrimination.
Landlords also have rights, such as the right to receive rental payments in a timely manner, pursue eviction for lease violations or illegal activities, and recover funds for damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in West Virginia
West Virginia landlords are responsible for providing certain essential services to tenants to comply with the implied warranty of habitability. Landlords must respond to repair requests within 14 days to make necessary repairs. If a landlord is noncompliant after 14 days of notice, tenants have the right to hire a professional to repair the issue and deduct a reasonable amount from the following month’s rent payment.
Landlords in West Virginia are responsible for the following amenities:
|Electricity and wiring||Yes|
|Air conditioning and heating||Yes|
|Garbage removal||Yes, multi-family units|
Landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants in retaliation for exercising their right to a habitable dwelling.
Tenant Responsibilities in West Virginia
West Virginia does not explicitly outline tenant responsibilities in its state code. In general, though, West Virginia tenants should:
- Pay rent on time.
- Keep the dwelling in a safe and habitable state.
- Remove garbage and trash.
- Use electrical, plumbing and heating fixtures in a reasonable manner.
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.
- Not deliberately destroy or damage any part of the property.
- Not sublease the unit to a third party without the landlord’s consent.
Evictions in West Virginia
West Virginia landlords have broad authority to evict tenants. The most common reasons for eviction are:
- Violation of Lease Terms – When a tenant has violated the terms of the lease agreement for any reason including nonpayment of rent, illegal activity, or other breaches West Virginia landlords are not required to give any notice to correct a lease violation. However, it is up the landlord if they are willing to allow the tenant to correct the violation. If the reason for the eviction is nonpayment of rent, and the tenant pays past-due rent (and any associated costs) in full prior to the eviction hearing, the eviction proceedings will be stopped.
- No Lease/ End of Lease – If the tenant remains on the property after the rental term has expired, the landlord must give the tenant a notice to quit before evicting them. The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.
- Week-to-Week – 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month – 30-Day Notice to Quit.
- Year-to-Year –90-Day Notice to Quit.
It is illegal for West Virginia landlords to evict tenants as a form of retaliation for reporting a violation of a housing or safety code. Landlords can also not discriminate based on discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in West Virginia
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – None.
- Time Limit for Return – 60 days (45 days if the landlord immediately rents to someone else).
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a West Virginia landlord wrongfully withholds rent then they may be required to pay back the amount plus an extra amount equaling 1.5 times the security deposit.
- Allowable Deductions – Late rental payments, repairs from damages the exceed normal wear and tear, unpaid utility bills, cost of removal or storage of abandoned items.
Lease Termination in West Virginia
Notice requirement. Tenants who rent on a periodic basis must give the following notice before terminating their lease:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early Termination. West Virginia tenants are allowed to legally break their lease early for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause in lease.
- Active military duty.
- Uninhabitable unit.
- Landlord harassment.
Keep in mind that West Virginia tenants who break a lease rarely may be required to pay the remainder of rental payments.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in West Virginia
- Rent control. West Virginia law neither sanctions nor prohibits ordinances that would effectively amount to rent control. Thus, landlords can set whatever rental prices they want.
- Rental increases. West Virginia law does not require landlords to give notice or justification before raising rent and does not limit rent increases.
- Rent-related fees. West Virginia law does not place any limits on late fees as long as they are included in the rental agreement. However, the state does limit returned check fees to $25.
Housing Discrimination in West Virginia
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. These rules do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes operated by religious organizations. West Virginia law does not enshrine any extra protection for groups outlined in the Fair Housing Act.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. The West Virginia Human Rights Commission handles cases regarding discrimination in housing. However, the organization has not outlined and specific guidelines on what may be considered discriminatory practices.
Also, the West Virginia Human Rights Commission does not offer digital reporting for discrimination complaints. You instead must fill out and file these documents. If the complaint is determined to be justified, tenants can use it as a basis for civil litigation.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in West Virginia
Landlord Right to Entry in West Virginia
There are no laws outlining entry policies in West Virginia. As such, West Virginia landlords do not have to give any notice before entering an inhabited dwelling for emergencies or non-emergencies. Tenants and landlords may agree on entry notification policies in the lease agreement.
Small Claims Court
West Virginia small claims court will litigate rent-related cases valued at $5,000 or less. Not all courts will litigate rent-related cases.
Mandatory Disclosures in West Virginia
West Virginia landlords must provide one mandatory disclosures to their tenants:
- Lead-Based Paint – It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints.
Changing the Locks
West Virginia law prohibits landlords from unilaterally changing locks as a form of eviction. Other than this, there is no mention of locks in West Virginia landlord-tenant laws. As such, West Virginia tenants may be allowed to change locks if their lease specifically allows it or they get permission from their landlord.
West Virginia Landlord Tenant Resources
In addition to the below, check your local county or municipality for additional landlord-tenant legislation. These following digital resources could be a major asset to you, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant in West Virginia: