West Virginia Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

West Virginia Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: February 1, 2024 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees

Costs of damage

Costs due to tenant’s noncompliance

Costs of property removal and storage

Charges outlined in lease

Return Deadline 45 or 60 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 2½x Amount Due + Court Costs

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in West Virginia, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in West Virginia

In West Virginia, the following can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Costs of damage due to tenant’s noncompliance with the lease agreement
  • Costs of removal and storage of the tenant’s property
  • Other charges as outlined in the lease

Most states, such as West Virginia, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear and Tear in West Virginia?

“Normal wear and tear” is deterioration that occurs naturally as a result of the tenant using the property as it was designed to be used.

Examples include:

  • Gently worn carpets
  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded paint and flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

Damage” means destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant during the course of the tenancy.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in West Virginia?

Landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


A carpet that is slightly discolored or gently worn will be considered normal wear and tear. A carpet with visible stains, major discoloration and rips will be considered excessively damaged.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in West Virginia?

Landlords in West Virginia can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures.

However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in West Virginia?

West Virginia law allows landlords to charge for reasonable cleaning costs. This means the cost is consistent with normal rates for cleaning services and the cleaning is limited to bringing the unit back to its original condition at the start of the lease.

Landlords cannot charge for excessive deep cleaning or at a rate that is not typical for local cleaning services.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, landlords can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes:

  • Minor scrapes from daily use
  • Fading due to sunlight
  • Minor cracks in the original paint

Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in West Virginia?

West Virginia law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in West Virginia

Landlords must return a security deposit within 45 days after the next tenant moves in or within 60 days after the lease term ends, whichever is earlier. If the landlord intends to make deductions, they must include an itemized statement of deductions.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in West Virginia?

West Virginia landlords have 45 or 60 days to return any remaining portion of a security deposit, whichever is earlier:

  • 45 days after the next tenant moves in; or
  • 60 days after the lease term ends

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in West Virginia?

Unlike in some states, such as New Jersey, landlords in West Virginia do not owe interest on security deposits.

How Do Landlords Give Notice in West Virginia?

Written notice must be mailed or hand-delivered  to the address provided by the tenant and must include the amount of the security deposit due, if any, to the tenant, plus an itemized statement of deductions.

If the notice is returned as undeliverable and hand-delivery is not reasonably possible, the landlord must keep the security deposit or notice for at least six months.

If the tenant or their agent requests the security deposit in writing during that time, it must be hand-delivered to the tenant at the landlord’s place of business within 72 hours.

Security Deposit Disputes in West Virginia

If landlords do not return the security deposit within the required time period, tenants can file for the return of the amount due in court plus damages up to 1½ times the amount wrongfully withheld  plus court costs.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Failure to provide written notice when deductions are made
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in West Virginia?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $10,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file in the local Circuit Court.

A small claims case must be filed within 5 or 10 years depending on whether the lease agreement was oral or written. An attorney is not required but permitted. Cases are filed in the Small Claims Court for the county where the rental property is located. Filing fees are $50 to $70 depending on your claim amount.