Eviction Law in West Virginia

What Is an Eviction?

An eviction is the forceful exiting of tenants following an issued notice by the property owner or landlord. Evictions usually come as a result of failure to pay rent, or from violations of the lease agreement. However, evicting a problem tenant can be a long and costly experience as landlord-tenant laws favor tenants. Getting a better understanding of West Virginia eviction law can help.

Even though eviction notices happen as a result of serious problems with the tenant, not all eviction notices lead to an actual eviction. Oftentimes, eviction notices serve as a final warning for the tenant. If the tenant can then pay rent, or begin to follow the lease agreement, they may avoid eviction.

When Can Landlords Send a Termination Notice?

The Tenant Doesn’t Pay Rent

If a delinquent West Virginia tenant frequently pays rent late or has not paid rent at all, there is a good reason for eviction. Some states do have a grace period for an occasional late payment. However, if a tenant makes a habit of always paying late, that grace period does not apply and the property owner can provide an eviction notice.

The West Virginia Legislature affirms that there is no set West Virginia eviction law extending a grace period to tenants who fail to pay rent.

You should always provide your tenant with “late rent” notices and keep a copy for yourself in your files. That way, if the eviction case goes to court, you have paper evidence of their failure to pay rent on time.

The Tenant Violates the Terms or Conditions of the Lease Agreement

Lease agreements are legal contracts. This means if your tenant violates the contract in any way, it can be grounds for eviction. For example, if your lease agreement says that your tenant cannot have an additional person living in the unit, and they violate this rule, you can begin the eviction notice process.

The lease agreement is also legally binding for the landlord. This means that any West Virginia landlord must also follow the rules laid out in the agreement, such as making repairs, and performing maintenance written into the lease.

The Tenant Damages the Property

Tenants are going to cause damage to the property; it’s unavoidable. Wear and tear when living in a home is normal. Still, there’s a difference between scratches on the wall or broken blinds, and intentional destruction of property.

If it’s clear that your tenant is doing severe damage to your property, such as breaking through walls or smashing windows, this may be cause for eviction. However, if your tenant makes repairs themselves, and doesn’t make any major changes to the property, this might not be grounds for eviction.

The Tenant Uses the Property for Illegal Purposes

If your tenant is using your West Virginia property for illegal purposes, such as selling drugs or weapons, this can be clear grounds for eviction. Reporting the issue might also bring criminal charges against the tenant.

However, you should prepare to provide evidence that the tenant is using the property for illegal purposes. If law enforcement came to the property to address these issues at any time, these reports can prove helpful.

How to Evict a Tenant in West Virginia

If you want to evict a tenant for any reason, then you need to understand the eviction process. Here’s how it works.

Step 1. Check Your Local Laws

West Virginia eviction law is different from other states and can also vary at the city level. Therefore, it’s important to familiarize yourself with local laws before taking any action. Always ensure you have a legally valid reason for an eviction before giving notice. A qualified West Virginia attorney can help review your case to determine if you do.

West Virginia Renter’s Rights states that a landlord wishing to evict must do so under certain circumstances. The most common is for failure to pay rent, but it is not the only cause for eviction. Damaging the rental unit, or violating the terms of a lease agreement are also grounds for eviction.

Step 2. Give a Formal Notice of Eviction

If you have tried to reason with your tenants and they continue to violate the terms of your lease, you should then provide them with a formal notice of eviction. Your eviction notice will serve as an ultimatum or final warning. It should explain how your tenant is in violation, as well as what they can do to stop the eviction process.

The eviction notice should include a deadline for the tenant to either pay rent or move out, and the amount the tenant owes. If you’re unsure of how to create an eviction notice, you can use online templates or seek legal advice.

The Eviction Process in West Virginia can take between 1 and 3 months, depending on the cause of eviction, and whether or not the tenant wants to go to court. A written notice of eviction must be posted, followed by the landlord filing in court and a summons being served on the tenant. Once the landlord requests a hearing, one will be scheduled within 10 days. If the judgment is delivered in favor of the landlord, the judicial officer will determine when the tenant must vacate. This timetable can range anywhere from immediately, to several weeks.

Step 3. File the Eviction with the Court

You must file the eviction notice with the court within a few days. The court will then set a hearing date and will notify the tenant of the hearing by a summons. Landlords seeking to evict tenants in West Virginia are required to file with the appropriate Magistrate of Circuit Court.

Step 4. Contact an Experienced West Virginia  Eviction Attorney and Prepare for the Hearing

You should find an attorney as soon as possible to help you prepare for the hearing. Then, when you go to the hearing, you should bring the following documents:

  • Lease agreements
  • Records of payments
  • Bounced checks
  • Record of communication between you and the tenant
  • Record of the eviction notice
  • Proof that the tenant received the notice

Step 5. Evict the Tenant

If you’ve won the hearing, your tenant will have time to move out of your property. The amount of time allowed is dependent on the state, but it typically ranges from 48 hours to one week. If the tenant refuses to leave, you can contact West Virginia law enforcement to forcibly remove them from the property.

Step 6. Collect Past-Due Rent Payments

If your tenant owes you rent money, you may still have a long fight ahead to collect past-due payments. You can try to collect these payments through a number of methods:

Work with an Experienced Eviction Attorney in West Virginia

The tenant will likely try to argue that you did not follow proper procedures for providing an eviction notice. Having a qualified West Virginia attorney on your side can take the pressure off your back, and help ensure a victory in court. We can even help you connect with an attorney across West Virginia state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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