This article summarizes some key West Virginia landlord-tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.
The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.
With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.
If you have a legal question or concern, I only recommend contacting a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the state bar association. This article is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice.
Official Rules and Regulations
- W.Va. Code § 37-6-1 to 37-6-30 – Landlord and Tenant
- W.Va. Code § 55-3A-1 to 55-3A-3 – Remedies for the Unlawful Occupation of Residential Rental Property (Eviction)
- W.Va. Code § 55-2-1 to 55-2-22 – Limitation of Actions
- Attorney General’s Guide to Rental Housing (pdf)
- Landlord/Tenant Responsibilities – City of Charleston (pdf)
- Landlord and Tenant: Rights and Responsibilities – WV Fair Housing Action Network (pdf)
- Security Deposit Maximum: No statute
- Security Deposit Interest: No statute
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
- Pet Deposits: No statute
- Non-Refundable Fees: Non-refundable pet fees and application fees are allowed, if agreed in writing that such fees are nonrefundable. (§ 37-6A-1(14))
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit:
- Within 60 days of the termination of the tenancy or within 45 days of the occupation of the premise by a subsequent tenant, whichever period is shorter. (§ 37-6A-1(7))
- In the event that damages to the premises exceed the amount of the security deposit and require the services of a third-party contractor, the landlord shall give written notice to the tenant, advising him or her of that fact, within the applicable notice period (60 days /45 days). If notice is given as prescribed in this subsection, the landlord shall have an additional 15 day period to provide an itemization of the damages and the cost of repair. (§ 37-6A-2(c))
- Permitted Uses of the Deposit:
- Payment of rent due, including reasonable late fees as specified in the rental agreement;
- Payment to cover damages caused by the tenant’s noncompliance with the rental agreement, except for reasonable wear and tear;
- Payment of unpaid utility bills paid by the landlord for which the tenant is responsible under the rental agreement;
- Payment of reasonable costs to remove and store the tenant’s personal property;
- Payment to repair other damages or charges as provided in the rental agreement, including but not limited to, paying for the services of a third-party contractor to repair damages to the property caused by the tenant. (§ 37-6A-2(b))
- Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (§ 37-6A-2(a) and (§ 37-6A-2(c))
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: Records of deposit withholdings must be kept for one year after the termination of the tenancy. The landlord must allow the tenant or tenant’s authorized agent or attorney to inspect the records within 72 hours of a written request. (§ 37-6A-3)
- Receipt of Deposit: No statute
- Failure to Comply: If the landlord willfully or in bad faith fails to return the security deposit as required by statute, the tenant may sue to recover any unreturned security deposit, in addition to damages up to one and a half times the amount wrongfully withheld. If the tenant still owes rent to the landlord, the court shall order any amount awarded to the tenant credited against the rent that is due. (§ 37-6A-5)
Lease, Rent & Fees:
- Rent Is Due: No statute
- Rent Increase Notice: No statute
- Rent Grace Period: No statute
- Late Fees: Allowed, but must be specific and agreed to in the lease. (§ 37-6A-2(b)(1))
- Prepaid Rent: No statute
- Returned Check Fees: $25 (§ 61-3-39e)
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No statute
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No statute
- Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: No statute
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: If a tenant abandons the lease, the landlord has the option either to hold the tenant liable for the remainder of the lease or to notify the tenant of the landlord’s intent to re-rent. If the landlord re-rents, then the tenant is still liable for the unexpired portion of their term, as well as for any difference between the amount of rent received by the landlord from the new tenant. If the landlord elects to hold the tenant liable for the lease, the tenant is entitled to recover possession of the premises if they pay any unpaid rent and meet any other obligations under the lease. (§ 37-6-7 and § 37-6-8)
- Abandonment/Early Termination Fee: No statute
Notices and Entry:
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: Notice not required, as the lease simply expires. (§ 37-6-5)
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Yearly Lease with No End Date: Three months’ written notice, unless a different period of notice is agreed in writing. (§ 37-6-5)
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: One month’s written notice required from the day rent is due, unless a different period of notice is agreed in writing. (§ 37-6-5)
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: One week’s written notice, unless a different period of notice is agreed in writing. (§ 37-6-5)
- Immediate Termination of Tenancy (Unconditional Quit Notice): If the tenant has violated the lease or damaged the premises, the landlord may file for eviction immediately without notice. Once the magistrate or circuit court sets a hearing date, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the hearing. See statute for required notification procedure. (§ 55-3A-1)
- Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
- Notice of Termination of Week-to-Week Leases for Nonpayment: Landlord may file for eviction immediately without notice. Once the magistrate or circuit court sets a hearing date, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the hearing. See statute for required notification procedure. (§ 55-3A-1)
- Notice of Termination of All Other Leases for Nonpayment: Landlord may file for eviction immediately without notice. Once the magistrate or circuit court sets a hearing date, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the hearing. See statute for required notification procedure. (§ 55-3A-1)
- Termination for Lease Violation: Landlord may file for eviction immediately without notice. Once the magistrate or circuit court sets a hearing date, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing of the hearing. See statute for required notification procedure. (§ 55-3A-1)
- Required Notice before Entry: No statute, but reasonable notice of at least 24 hours is recommended.
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): No statute, but reasonable notice of at least 24 hours is recommended.
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: No statute, but reasonable notice of at least 24 hours is recommended.
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No statute
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute
- Lockouts Allowed: No, chapter § 55-3A specifies the procedure for eviction, which doesn’t allow for lockouts. (§ 55-3A)
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No, chapter § 55-3A specifies the procedure for eviction, which doesn’t allow for utility shutoffs. (§ 55-3A)
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:
- Name and Addresses: No statute
- Copy of the Lease: No statute
- Domestic Violence Situations: No statute. An Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence Aid and Resource Collection (AARDVARC) provides contact information for West Virginia domestic violence advocates and support resources by county.
- Landlord’s Duties: (§ 37-6-30)
- Maintenance and Compliance: Maintain premises to meet applicable health, safety, fire and housing codes, unless the failure to meet those requirements is the fault of the tenant, the tenant’s family member or someone else on the premises with tenant’s consent, and;
- Common Areas: In multiple housing units, keep clean, safe and in repair all common areas maintained for tenant use; and;
- Repairs: Make all repairs necessary to keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition, unless said repairs were due to the tenant’s carelessness, or that of the tenant’s family member or someone on the premises with the tenant’s consent;
- Appliances: Maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by agreement or by law;
- Trash: In multiple housing units, provide and maintain appropriate conveniences for the removal of garbage and other waste;
- Heat: For units supplied by direct public utility connections, supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, and reasonable heat between the first day of October and the last day of April, except where the dwelling unit is so constructed that running water, heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant.
- Tenant’s Duties: No statute, but according to the Landlord and Tenant: Rights and Responsibilities guide, the generally accepted duties are:
- Act in Accordance with the Lease:
- Pay the rent as specified in the lease
- Carry out the other terms of the lease, such as payment for utilities
- Compliance: Comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
- Report Damages: Report and pay for all damage caused by the tenant or visitors in the rental with the tenant’s permission
- Cleanliness: Keep the premises that tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit;
- Upkeep Alarms: Maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors by replacing batteries when needed;
- Trash: Dispose of all garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner;
- Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in the dwelling unit or used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
- Appliances: Use in a reasonable manner all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises;
- Lawful Activity: Not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so; and
- Quiet Enjoyment: Conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with tenant consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
- Act in Accordance with the Lease:
- Abandoned Personal Property: (§ 37-6-6(c))Upon regaining legal possession of the property, the landlord may take, dispose of or otherwise remove the tenant’s personal property without incurring any liability to the tenant or any other person. To dispose of the tenant’s property under this section, the landlord shall give a written notice to the tenant that shall be:
- (1) Posted in a conspicuous place on the property; and
- (2) Sent by first-class mail with a certificate of mailing, which provides a receipt of the date of mailing, in an envelope endorsed “Please Forward”, addressed and mailed to the tenant at:
- (A) The leased property;
- (B) Any post office box held by the tenant and known to the landlord or housing authority; and
- (C) The most recent forwarding address if provided by the tenant or known to the landlord or housing authority.
- Retaliation: No statute. Prohibition against landlord retaliation established in case law. Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority or exercised a legal right. Refer to Imperial Colliery Co. v. Fout, 373 S.E.2d 489 (1988) for more information.
- Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
- West Virginia Small Claims Court
- Limits: $5,000 (§ 50-2-1)
- Eviction Cases Allowed in Small Claims: Eviction cases and small claims are heard in magistrate court or the circuit court of the county where the property is located. Each county varies on if these claims can be heard simultaneously (§ 55-3A-1)
- West Virginia Magistrate Courts
- Statute of Limitations
- West Virginia Judiciary
- West Virginia Attorney General
- West Virginia Bar Association
- Legal Aid:
- Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
- West Virginia Insurance Commissioner
- West Virginia Online Business Services
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – West Virginia
- West Virginia Real Estate Commission
- REALTORS® Associations
- Landlord Associations