What’s the deal with evictions in West Virginia?
While it’s nice to think that every tenant is going to be an ideal one based on your screening process, one day you may find yourself in a situation where your tenants are out of control and need to be removed from the premises. It may be tempting to jump right to eviction, but how you react to that situation is important because there are strict rules in place regarding evictions in West Virginia.
Hopefully you don’t have nightmare tenants like the ones who rented a home in Milton. When the couple was evicted for failing to pay rent, the landlord alleged that said tenants went out of their way to destroy cabinets, drywall, windows that resulted in damage costs to the tune of $5,000.
The more care you take in following the eviction process in West Virginia, the better the chances of the tenant moving out and you be able to move forward with as little drama as possible. Read on to figure out what to do when you’ve got an unruly tenant.
What are some reasons I can evict a tenant?
- Unpaid rent
- Lease violations like an unauthorized person or pet living in the unit
- Criminal activity on the property
- Causing significant damage to the property
- Lease termination
Are there situations in which I cannot evict a tenant?
There may be a number of reasons that an eviction case is dismissed by a judge, but it’s against the law to pursue evictions that fall into these categories:
- Eviction on the basis of discrimination
- Retaliatory evictions in response to a tenant joining a union or filing a formal complaint against the landlord or property owner.
What is the process normally like?
If you are concerned about terminating a tenant in West Virginia, try to resolve things on your own first before escalating it to court. Legal action can be costly and time-intensive for both parties.
Every eviction case in West Virginia must be taken before a judge. That said, “self-help” evictions are illegal. Changing the locks, turning off utilities, or intimidating the tenant to get them to leave will result in the case being dismissed.
If the tenant has violated the rental agreement, the landlord can go straight to court to file a suit for eviction, without providing any notice.
In other cases, follow this procedure:
- Provide the tenant one month notice regarding intention to evict
- File a Wrongful Occupation lawsuit
- Have a sheriff or other officer serve official papers on tenant
- Attend magistrate hearing
- If the tenant alleges a defense to the case, the case could be removed to Circuit Court
- If the tenant loses the case, the judge or magistrate will issue the date on which the tenant must leave
Where can I learn more?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to start the eviction process with a tenant in West Virginia, please consult a lawyer.
Where can I learn more?
If you have any questions, or think you may want to start the eviction process with a tenant in Massachusetts, please consult a lawyer.
- NOLO Guide for Termination in West Virginia
- West Virginia Legal Services Tenant’s Rights
- NOLO Guide to West Virginia Month to Month Tenancy
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