According to West Virginia law (WV Code Chapter 37), whenever rent is paid in exchange for inhabiting a property, a lease agreement exists. The agreement establishes certain rights and responsibilities for tenants such as the right to habitable premises and the right to not be discriminated against in housing.
Landlords also have rights, such as the right to receive rental payments, pursue eviction for lease violations or illegal activities, and reimbursement for damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
In addition to the above, check your local county or municipality for additional landlord-tenant legislation.
Landlord Responsibilities in West Virginia
West Virginia landlords are required to operate according to an “implied warranty of habitability” meaning that landlords are responsible for providing certain essential amenities to tenants. Landlords must respond to repair requests in a “reasonable” time. However, there does not seem to be any legal provisions for tenants to take alternate action.
Landlords in West Virginia are responsible for the following amenities:
|Electricity and wiring||Yes|
|Air conditioning and heating||Yes|
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. As such, West Virginia tenants are not obliged to abide by any “unreasonable” responsibilities not agreed upon in the lease. In general, though, West Virginia tenants should:
- Pay rent on time
- Keep the dwelling in a safe and habitable state
- Remove garbage and trash
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors
Evictions in West Virginia
West Virginia landlords have broad authority to evict tenants. The most common reasons for eviction are:
- Nonpayment of rent – There are no laws surrounding nonpayment of rent so if West Virginia tenants fail to pay rent then landlords can immediately evict them, they are not required to give notice or allow for repayment.
- Violation of lease terms – West Virginia landlords are similarly not required to give any notice to cure for a lease violation. They can evict a tenant immediately if they violate the lease.
- Illegal Acts – West Virginia landlords are free to determine whether illegal activity warrants an eviction. They do not need to give any notice to evict.
At-will tenants who pay on a month-to-month basis can be evicted for whatever reason as long as they are given 30 days of advanced notice.
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.
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
These following digital resources could be a major asset to you, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant in West Virginia: