The Full Guide on Landlord Tenant Laws - West Virginia 
In the Mountain State of West Virginia, landlords and tenants must navigate a complex web of rental laws, often called landlord-tenant laws, that define their rights and responsibilities, as well as influence their interactions. Understanding and adhering to these regulations can be challenging, even for experienced rental property owners and tenants.
To assist in navigating these laws, we've compiled this comprehensive guide covering essential rental topics such as tenant screening, rent payments, rental agreements, evictions, and more. Whether you find yourself in the role of a landlord or a tenant, this guide will provide you with a thorough understanding of West Virginia's rental laws, in accordance with the West Virginia Landlord-Tenant Act (WV Code Chapter 37).
Landlords will discover strategies to safeguard their rental properties, while tenants will gain the knowledge needed to assert their rights. Both will learn how to create positive landlord-tenant relationships.
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West Virginia landlord tenant law fast facts
- Is a rental license required to be a residential landlord? No, not statewide
- Are there any security deposit requirements? Yes
- Is there rent control? No
- Are there limits on late fees? No
- Are there rent payment grace period laws? No
- Are there notice of entry laws? Yes
West Virginia landlord rights and responsibilities
Rental owners in West Virginia are provided basic rights that allow them to manage their rental property protected from potential legal and financial issues. A few of their main rights include:
- Charging and receiving rent payments when due
- Collecting security deposits to cover unforeseen costs at the end of the tenancy
- Pursuing the legal eviction process if a tenant breaches the lease
West Virginia landlords also have a set of obligations to uphold that ensure a safe and smooth tenancy for renters. Their key responsibilities include:
- Providing tenants with a safe and habitable rental unit with required amenities like heating and hot water
- Making repairs within a “reasonable amount of time” after receiving a written notice from tenants
- Returning a tenant’s security deposit within 45 days (after the next tenant moves in) or 60 days (after the lease ends)
West Virginia tenant rights and responsibilities
West Virginia tenants have their own fundamental rights that protect their safety and well-being while livingin a rental unit. Their main rights are as follows:
- Residing in a rental unit that meets the local and state safety and health regulations
- Having repairs made in a reasonable amount of time after providing the landlord with written notice
- Taking legal action if the landlord violates the lease agreement
Same as landlords, West Virginia renters have a range of responsibilities to uphold. While their duties are not explicitly outlined in the state code, West Virginia tenants should:
- Pay rent on time
- Keep the unit clean and sanitary, including removing waste and garbage
- Use all fixtures as intended
- Not disturb other renters or neighbors
- Not purposefully destroy or damage any part of the rental property
West Virginia official rules and regulations
West Virginia rental application and tenant screening laws
West Virginia tenant screening and rental application laws are straightforward. The state doesn’t limit how much a landlord may charge for a rental application fee and the fee does not have to be made refundable. Landlords cannot ask any questions on the rental application that could lead to housing discrimination. Additionally, West Virginia landlords can run background checks, but must first obtain a prospective tenant’s written consent.
West Virginia rental agreement and lease termination laws
In West Virginia, both oral and written lease agreements are accepted. However, leases for rental periods over 12 months must be in writing. It’s advised to always have a written rental agreement as it delineates the landlord’s and tenant’s duties
West Virginia doesn’t require any specific clauses to be included in a lease agreement, but they should include the following basic information: the landlord’s name, address and phone number, the rent amount and due date, lease length, and description of the rental unit. Learn what else should be included in a lease agreement now.
To terminate a lease in West Virginia, tenants must provide a notice period depending on their lease type. Week-to-week leases must provide a 7-day notice, while month-to-month leases must provide a 30-day notice. Year-long leases are required to provide 3 months’ notice. Landlords are not required to provide a notice to terminate tenancy because the lease will simply expire on the end date listed on the lease.
West Virginia tenants may terminate a lease agreement early for the following legal reasons:
- Active military duty
- Early termination clause
- Landlord harassment
- Uninhabitable unit
West Virginia security deposit laws
West Virginia state law allows landlords to collect a security deposit at the start of a lease to cover unforeseen costs at the end of the tenancy. Like a handful of other states, West Virginia does not limit how much a landlord can charge for the deposit.
At the end of the lease, landlords must return the tenant’s security deposit within 45 days after the next tenant moves in or 60 days after the lease term ends. Landlords may make deductions from the security deposit for reasons including property damage exceeding normal wear and tear, costs due to breach of the lease, costs of removal of the tenant’s property, other charges outlined in the lease, and unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees.
If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, tenants can sue for one and a half the amount of the security deposit plus court and attorney fees.
West Virginia rent laws
West Virginia does not have rent control laws. However, state law does not prohibit its cities and towns from creating their own rent control regulations, though as of 2023, none have instated their own laws. This allows landlords to charge any amount of rent and increase rent as often as they choose, but they cannot increase rent during the lease term unless the rental agreement allows for it. West Virginia does not specify how much notice a landlord should provide a tenant before raising rent. Thus, the two parties can come to an agreement on a minimum notice period.
If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords are not required to provide a grace period before charging a late fee. While there is no limit on how much a landlord may charge for a late fee, the fee must be reasonable.
Renters in West Virginia are not allowed to withhold rent for any reason.
West Virginia repair and maintenance laws
Rental owners in West Virginia are required to make repairs within a “reasonable time” after receiving written notice from tenants. If landlords fail to make repairs in a timely manner, renters can take several legal actions: sue for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make repairs, and cancel the rental agreement. Unlike other states, tenants cannot make the repairs themselves and deduct it from the rent, or withhold rent unilaterally.
West Virginia notice of entry laws
West Virginia landlords can enter rentals for reasonable purposes related to the tenancy, but the reasons are normally listed in the lease agreement. Generally, they must provide advance notice (at least 24 hours) prior to entering the property, except in the case of emergencies.
West Virginia eviction laws
West Virginia state law allows landlords to evict tenants for specific legal reasons. If a tenant doesn’t pay rent, landlords are not required to provide a notice period and can file for eviction immediately. However, if the tenant pays past-due rent and any late fees before the eviction hearing, the eviction proceedings will cease.
Additionally, no notice period is required for lease violations or illegal activity, and it is up to the landlord to allow the tenant to cure the issue. The only reason for eviction that requires a notice period is the end of the lease/no lease. The amount of time required in the notice depends on the length of the tenancy:
- Week-to-week leases: 7-day notice to quit
- Monthly leases: 30-day notice to quit
- Year leases: 90-day notice to quit
Additional West Virginia landlord tenant laws
In addition to having regulations on repairs and evictions, West Virginia also has laws covering landlord retaliation, discrimination, and more. Explore some of these regulations in more detail below.
Only federal law protects tenants from housing discrimination in West Virginia. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, renters are protected from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. However, these regulations do not apply to some rentals managed by religious organizations or owner-occupied homes.
If a landlord violates housing discrimination laws, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint by mail with West Virginia Human Rights Commission.
Like in the majority of US states, it’s illegal for landlords in West Virginia to retaliate against tenants for taking protected actions like reporting landlords to government authorities for health and safety violations. Increasing rent, decreasing services, and threatening eviction are all considered forms of retaliation.
West Virginia law requires landlords with rental units built before 1978 to provide tenants with a lead-based paint disclosure. This disclosure provides information on lead-based paint concentrations found in the rental.
Abandonment of personal property
If a tenant abandons the property ahead of the end of the lease agreement, the landlord has the right to dispose of the tenant's personal belongings if they have not responded to the landlord's written 10-day notice.
Navigate West Virginia’s landlord tenant laws with confidence
West Virginia’s rental laws establish a transparent framework that establishes the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. By comprehending and following these regulations, rental property owners and their counterparts can navigate the entire rental process with confidence–leading to favorable outcomes. Landlords can safeguard their real estate investments, tenants can assert their rights when needed, and both parties can collaborate to cultivate a positive landlord-tenant relationship. It's a mutually beneficial scenario for all involved!
Landlords, if you need help with collecting rent or creating a lease agreement, and tenants, if you are looking to boost your credit, Azibo has got you covered. Learn about all of the benefits of using our free rental software today!
West Virgina landlord tenant law FAQ
Is Vermont considered a landlord-friendly state?
Vermont is not generally considered a landlord-friendly state. This is because the state has strict notification policies and eviction rules. Additionally, landlords must provide more amenities at the property compared to other states. Vermont is also known as having one of the highest property tax rates in the country. Find out what makes a state landlord-friendly now!
What is the limit a landlord or tenant can sue for in Vermont Small Claims Court?
Vermont’s Small Claims Court handles disputes involving small amounts of money, allowing cases to be handled in an expedited and simplified manner void of a lawyer. Vermont Small Claims Court will hear rental cases up to $5,000. The process takes approximately three to four months depending on the circumstances.
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