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West Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws

West Virginia Landlord Tenant LawsThis article is intended to be an online resource for West Virginia landlords.  We summarize key West Virginia Landlord-Tenant laws that are most applicable to residential rental units.

This article is not qualified for legal advice.  Individuals seeking guidance need to work with a legal advisor who is qualified in the jurisdiction.  West Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws and statutes may vary from county to county or city to city, this article provides state-level laws and statutes. 

Also, laws and statutes are subject to change and may cause sections of this article to be outdated.  We provide links to assist landlords and tenants to the state statute page for further research.

Click here if you are seeking renters insurance in West Virginia.

 

Quick Facts for Real Estate Investors Considering West Virginia

West Virginia landlord-tenant laws are considered Landlord-friendly.

There are 1.8m  residents in West Virginia.  Major metropolitan markets in West Virginia are:

  1. Huntington: Estimated population of 355,875, which 31% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $682.
  2. Charleston: Estimated population of 257,074, which 29% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $665.
  3. Morgantown: Estimated population of 139,044, which 38% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $784.
  4. Wheeling: Estimated population of 138,948, which 21% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $613.
  5. Parkersburg: Estimated population of 89,339, which 30% of residents are renter occupied.  The average rent is $715.

 

SECURITY DEPOSIT LAWS IN WEST VIRGINIA

 

Does West Virginia require security deposits?

West Virginia does not require security deposits, however, if accepted then there are laws and regulations.

 

Is a security deposit receipt required in West Virginia?

No statute.  It is generally recommended to still send a receipt of at least the date, the total amount received, and its purpose.

 

How much security deposit can a landlord charge in West Virginia?

West Virginia does not state a limit on security deposits.  Generally, landlords will charge one to one-and-a-half month’s rent for a security deposit.

 

 

Storage Requirements for Security Deposits in West Virginia:

West Virginia does not state where a landlord must keep security deposits.

 

 

Can security deposits be commingled with other assets in West Virginia?

Landlords can commingle deposits with their personal funds.

 

Do landlords have to pay interest on security deposits in West Virginia?

Landlords are not required to share the interest earned for deposits.  No statute.

  

 

 

When must a landlord return the deposit by in West Virginia?

Landlords must return the security deposits within 60 days after the termination of the lease and delivery of possession by the tenant.  Or, within 45 days once a new tenant occupies the rental unit.  Whichever is shorter. (§ 37-6A-1(7))

 

When can a landlord in West Virginia withhold a security deposit?

At the end of a lease, the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.  However, landlords may withhold all or portions of a tenant’s security deposit for (§ 37-6A-2(b)):

  • Unpaid rent and/or fees
  • Damages beyond normal wear-and-tear
  • Unpaid utility bills
  • Removal and storing abandoned property
  • Payment to repair other damages or charges stated in the lease agreement

 

 

 

Nonrefundable fees:

Allowed but there must be a written agreement and stated if any part of the deposit is to be made non-refundable. (§ 37-6A-1(14))

 

Pet Deposits and Additional Fees:

Non-refundable pet fees are allowed if they are stated in the lease agreement.

 

Require a written description / itemized list of damages and charges?

Landlords are required to provide a written and itemized list of damages that are delivered. (§ 37-6A-2(a) and (§ 37-6A-2(c))

 

What happens to West Virginia landlords that fail to comply with returning the security deposit?

Landlords that fail to return the security deposit or acts in bad faith are liable to return the deposit, pay damages up to one-and-a-half times the amount wrongfully withheld.  (§ 37-6A-5)

 

 

 

 

 

RENTAL AGREEMENT LAWS IN WEST VIRGINIA

 

Rental agreements required in West Virginia:

Rental agreements are required for leases 12 months or longer.  We always recommend having a legal lease agreement to prevent future complications.

If you need a lease, Burbz offers an online West Virginia rental lease agreement.

 

What are the required lease provisions in West Virginia?

West Virginia requires certain provisions to be included in the lease agreement.  Besides both the landlord and tenant names, the landlord should also list:

  • Conditions of occupancy
  • Description of the rental unit
  • Security deposit amount and terms
  • Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • Security deposit amount and terms
  • Process for requesting maintenance and repairs
  • Rent Amount and Due Date.
  • Provision defining automatic renewal
  • Pet policies
  • Late Fees and Penalties
  • Landlords name, address, and phone number
  • Length of the lease agreement
  • Tenants name, address, and phone number
  • Landlord’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and utilities
  • Occupancy by children or pets
  • Required deposits and the conditions for their refund
  • Inspection rights by the landlord
  • Other fees
  • Address of rental property
  • Subleasing policy
  • Cleaning Fees

 

 

What are the rental agreement notice requirements in West Virginia:

Fixed-End or Year-to-Year: Leases with a fixed end date will simply expire.  Those without a fixed end date requires 3 months’ notice.  (§ 37-6-5)

Month-to-Month: Must provide at least 1 month’s written notice at any time. (§ 37-6-5)  Read our guide on Month-to-Month rent.

Week-to-Week: Must provide at least 1 week’s written notice with the termination date specified in the notice. (§ 37-6-5)

 

Rent Increase Notice:

No statute.  Commonly in other states, landlords provide at least one month’s notice.

Rent Grace Period for Residential:

There is no grace period in West Virginia.  Landlords are allowed to charge a late fee the day after the rent due date.

 

 

Prepaid Rent:

No statute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATE FEES AND LIMITS IN WEST VIRGINIA

Late Fees for Residential:

West Virginia landlords can charge a late fee and no limit is defined.  Generally, landlords charge a $25-$50 or 5% of rent late fee.

 

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA LEASE TERMINATIONS / NOTICES TO QUIT

 

In West Virginia, lease agreements between landlords and tenants can be terminated.  Read our blog for landlords about handling early lease terminations.  Here are the cause and effects:

 

What is the Pay or Quit for Nonpayment requirement in West Virginia?

West Virginia landlords can immediately file for eviction through the magistrate or circuit court.  Once a hearing date has been set, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing.  (§ 55-3A-1)

 

How many days must a landlord allow before terminating for a Lease Violation?

West Virginia landlords can immediately file for eviction through the magistrate or circuit court.  Once a hearing date has been set, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing.  (§ 55-3A-1)

 

 

Any actions that result in an immediate lease termination?

West Virginia does not have any grace periods allowing tenants the opportunity to remedy the issues.  Landlords can begin evictions for non-payment or lease violations immediately.  (§ 55-3A-1)

 

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA LAWS ON REPAIRS

 

West Virginia has no statutes stating requirements.  Often, landlords have to provide a habitable property for tenants to live and enjoy.  

How many days must the tenant give for repairs? 

No statute.

 

Can tenants withhold rent for landlords’ failure to provide essential services (i.e. water, heat, etc.)?

No statute.

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA LANDLORD LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Landlords have an obligation to the tenants, which include (§ 37-6-30):

  • Remain in compliance with all applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety
  • Maintain electrical systems, plumbing, heating, and hot and cold water
  • Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, and reasonable heat between October 1 to April 30.
  • Keep all common areas of the property in a clean and safe condition
  • In a multi-unit complex (2+ units), provide and maintain appropriate receptacles and conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste from common points of collection.

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA TENANT LAWS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

 

Generally, tenants must dispose of all rubbish and garbage, refrain from unreasonable use of electrical, heating, and plumbing fixtures, meet all obligations lawfully by the code enforcement agency, refrain from willfully destroying or damaging the structure, take in additional occupants, rent or sublease without the owner’s consent.  West Virginia Landlord and Tenant: Rights and Responsibilities

 

 

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA EVICTION LAWS

 

Can landlords do a ‘self help’ eviction?

In West Virginia, it is illegal for landlords to cause the tenant to quit the rental unit involuntarily.

Are landlords allowed to lockout tenants by changing locks?

The landlord cannot change or remove the doors or locks. (§ 55-3A)

 

Are landlords allowed to turn off utilities?

The landlord cannot change or turn off utilities to impede on the tenants. (§ 55-3A)

Do landlords have to make a reasonable attempt to mitigate damages when re-renting the rental unit?

Tenants who elect to abandon the lease are still held liable for rent if the landlord chooses.  Or, the landlord can decide to re-rent.  If re-rented, tenants are still liable for the unexpired portion of the rent as well as any difference in rent amount if the new rent is less.  If the landlord decides not to re-rent, the tenant is entitled to recover possession of the rental unit if they pay all unpaid rent and meet all other obligations from the lease agreements.  (§ 37-6-7 and § 37-6-8)

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA LAWS ON RETALIATION

 

West Virginia laws does not state any retaliation laws.  However, Burbz generally recommends for landlords not to retaliate for any of the following:

  • Tenant submitted, or threatened to, a complaint to a government agency for building or health code violation
  • Tenant has sent written complaints to the landlords about repairs
  • Tenant has exercised any lawful they are entitled to

 

 

 

 

LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL MISCONDUCT, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

West Virginia states a landlord cannot discriminate against prospective tenants or tenants because they have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, rape or stalking.

If you are a victim, please search The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence  site for a helpline:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA LAWS FOR LOCKS AND LANDLORDS

West Virginia does not have any statewide laws regarding locks for landlords.  The tenant cannot remove, replace, or add a lock without the written permission from the landlord.  If the tenant does with permission, they must provide the landlord with a key. 

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA PET LAWS & PET POLICIES

West Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws does not have any specific pet laws.  The lease agreement should to state whether pets are allowed and any type of pet deposit that will be charged.

Landlords are legally allowed to create their own pet policies and requirements.  Including tolerance for breeds, size, types, and more. 

Read our guide to pet policies.

 

 

 

 

 

DO LANDLORDS IN WEST VIRGINIA NEED A RENTAL LICENSE?

 

According to West Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws, landlords do not need a rental license in West Virginia. 

Local cities may have different requirements, we recommend you research the local city-specific laws.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTICE OF ENTRY LAWS IN WEST VIRGINIA

Do landlords in West Virginia have to provide notice of entry? 

West Virginia does not require the landlord to provide notice.  Generally, landlords provide 24 hours notice as a good practice except in the case of an emergency. 

  • Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
  • Improvements to property
  • Inspections
  • Showing prospective tenants, contractors, mortgagees, or buyers.

 

When can a landlord enter without notice:

No statute.   Generally, states allow landlords to enter in the case of an emergency to life safety or property.

 

 

Can landlords enter for non-emergency maintenance and repairs?

No statute.  Should provide a 24 hour notice.

 

 

Can landlords enter for showings?

No statute.  Should provide a 24 hour notice.

 

 

 

Can landlords enter for emergencies without notice?

No statute.  Should provide a 24 hour notice.  States typically allow entry for life safety or property safety, however, West Virginia does not specifically state emergency entries.

 

 

Can landlords enter during Tenant’s extended absence?

No statute.

 

 

Can landlords enter for pesticides?

No Statute.

 

 

 

 

 

WEST VIRGINIA SUBLEASE AND ASSIGNMENT PROVISIONS

Landlords should include a clause in the lease agreement to prevent subleasing.  Otherwise, the tenant may sublet the rental unit.

 

 

 

 

TENANT ABANDONED PROPERTY IN WEST VIRGINIA

 

West Virginia Landlord Tenant Laws state a landlord may take, dispose or remove the tenant’s property after they have given written notice to the tenant.  This must be:

  • Post notice in a conspicuous place on the property
  • Send notice by first-class mail with a certificate of mailing

 

 

 

 

 

REQUIRED RENTAL AGREEMENT DISCLOSURES FOR WEST VIRGINIA LEASES

 

West Virginia Landlord-Tenant Laws requires the following be included with all Rental Agreement Disclosures:

 

Lead Paint Disclosure:  Yes.  Federal law requires every landlord to disclose known information on lead-based paint and hazards.  Landlords must provide this EPA-approved pamphlet.

 

 

 

 

HELPFUL RESOURCES

West Virginia Code – Chapter 37 – Real Property

West Virginia Code – Chapter 55 – Actions, Suits and Arbitration; Judicial Sale

Attorney General’s Guide to Rental Housing

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – West Virginia

West Virginia Real Estate Commission

 

WEST VIRGINIA RELATED COURT INFO & LINKS

 

West Virginia Small Claims Court Limits:

$10,000 is the limit for small claims court. (§ 50-2-1)

 

West Virginia Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims:

Held at magistrate court or the circuit court.

West Virginia Judiciary

West Virginia Attorney General

West Virginia Bar Association

West Virginia Magistrate Courts

 

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