State Rules and Regulations for West Virginia Rental Properties and Landlords
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.
West Virginia 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)
West Virginia Security Deposit Limit and Return
- Security Deposit Maximum: A landlord can require no more than one month’s rent as a security deposit. Only one tenant must pay the security deposit, pursuant to §37-6A-2(f).
- Security Deposit Interest: No statute available
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute available
- Pet Deposits: No statute available, but can vary from facility to facility. Disable persons with service dogs are exempt from having to pay any type of deposit for their pet due to the nature of the service the animal provides.
- Non-refundable Fees: No statute available
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: The landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within 14 days after the termination of the lease.
- Permitted Uses of the Deposit: The landlord may use any or all of the security deposit for the payment of any rent that is due, of any itemized damages as well as any unpaid utilities. The security deposit may also be applied to the removal and storage of any property abandoned by the tenant pursuant to §37-6A-2(b1-5).
- Require Itemized List/Written Description of Damages and Charges: When returning the tenants’ security deposit, the landlord is required to also submit an itemized list of all damages and charges that were the result of the tenant’s occupancy pursuant to §37-6A-2.
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute available
- Receipt of Deposit: No statute available
- Failure to Comply: If the landlord fails to return the security deposit within the specified amount of time, the tenant may recover up to 2 month’s rent or twice the amount of the original security deposit.
Lease, Rent & Fees Under West Virginia Law
- 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 Under West Virginia Law
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date Lease: There is no need to send notice of termination because the lease will simply expire on the end date listed in the lease.
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Year to Year Lease with No End Date: Pursuant to §37-6-5, either party must provide written notice to terminate the lease 90 days prior to the end of the lease.
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month to Month Lease: For any lease under the term of one year, either party can terminate the lease by providing the other party written notice prior to the end of the lease. For a month to month lease, 30 days must be given. pursuant to §37-6-5.
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week to Week Lease: For any lease under the term of one year, either party can terminate the lease by providing the other party written notice prior to the end of the lease. For a week to week lease, 7 days notice must be provided in accordance with §37-6-5.
- Notice to Terminate for Nonpayment – If rent is not paid by the appropriate due date, the landlord has the right to request an immediate and unconditional quit notice to the tenant.
- Termination for Lease Violation: 10 days notice is required if a violation to the lease has occurred. In severe cases where threats of violence or damage to the property has occurred, the landlord can request immediate removal.
- Move In/Move Out Checklist: Yes a move in/move out checklist is required, especially when returning all or a portion of the tenant’s security deposit.
- Notice of Forwarding Address: No statute available. Notice of forwarding address may be included in the rental agreement, but is not mandatory.
- Notice of Date/Time of Move Out Inspection: No statute available, but may be determined within the rules and regulations of the lease. The majority of lease agreements set a specific day and time after the lease has ended so that both parties may be present during the inspection.
- Required Notice Before Entry: No statute available, but may be determined within the rules and regulations of the lease. In most cases, 48 hours is considered ample notice.
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): No statute given, but may be determined within the rules and regulations of the lease.
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: No statute given, but is often determined within the lease. Showings can be scheduled for any reasonable times so as to not disrupt the tenants’ daily activities.
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No statute given. Many lease agreements address this issue without the need for state or county statutes.
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute given
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute given
- Lockouts Allowed: Lockouts are not allowed pursuant to §37-6.
- Utility Shut Offs Allowed: Utility shut offs are not allowed pursuant to §37-6.
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.
- Business License Required: No statute is given on the state level, but a person should check at the city and county levels of government to determine whether or not a business license is required for a landlord to manage properties. Landlord business licenses may be required in certain areas and not in others.
- West Virginia Insurance Commissioner
- West Virginia Online Business Services
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – West Virginia
- West Virginia Real Estate Commission
- West Virginia Association of REALTORS®
- Kanawha Valley Board of REALTORS®
- Huntington Board of REALTORS®
- Wheeling Board of REALTORS®
- Beckley Board of REALTORS®
- Eastern Panhandle Board of REALTORS®
- West Virginia Landlords Association