Landlords in West Virginia must comply with West Virginia Code Section 37-6-30, and they must provide their tenants with written notice prior to filing a suit for judicial eviction against them. However, landlords do not have to provide their tenants with prior written notice to tenants who are behind in their rent payments. Landlords may summarily evict these tenants without notice.
Written Eviction Notice
Before landlords can legally evict their tenants, they must give them a written eviction notice. Landlords must provide written notice at least one full rental period before the date of eviction. Tenants with monthly lease agreements must have at least 30 days’ prior written notice of eviction before their landlords can evict them.
For instance, if a landlord provides his tenant with notification on June 10, and the tenant pays rent on the first of every month, then he has until July 30 to move. After providing the written notice, a landlord must file a suit for eviction in court.
Exceptions to Written Notice
West Virginia law allows landlords to file for eviction without written notice against tenants who are behind in their rent payments or violate their lease agreements by filing a summary eviction suit. For nonpaying tenants, the state provides them with a right to cure their violation by offering full tender. Full tender requires tenants to pay all delinquent rent payments, court fees and attorneys' fees. However, tenants also have legal rights when offering full tender, and they may request a summary dismissal from a magistrate judge.
Summary Eviction Process
After providing written notice of eviction, landlords may sue their tenants in court for illegally holding over their property. They must serve their tenants with notice by hiring a process server or asking the sheriff’s deputy to serve the summons and complaint. West Virginia allows landlords to seek summary evictions against tenants by filing a “Petition for Summary Relief for Wrongful Occupation of Residential Property.” The summary eviction process allows landlords to expedite the standard West Virginia judicial eviction process by quickly setting a court date within five to 10 days from filing the petition.
Unlike the suit for judicial eviction or unlawful detainer, landlords cannot request monetary awards for unpaid rent or property damage without a trial. If the tenant appears in court on the hearing date, a judge can award money and evict her. However, if she fails to appear in court, the landlord may only request an eviction and not monetary damages. Tenants have five days to contest their summary evictions by filing an answer.
Illegal Landlord Acts
Landlords in West Virginia cannot forcefully evict their tenants by removing personal property, disconnecting utilities, changing locks or threatening imprisonment against their tenants for nonpayment of rent, breaching lease provisions or failing to move out by the end of the tenancy. Tenants can file complaints with the West Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division against their landlords who engage in self-help evictions or use illegal methods to evict their tenants.
Seek Legal Advice When Necessary
Since real estate laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.
Jill Stimson has worked in various property management positions in Maryland and Delaware. Stimson worked for the top three property management companies in the commercial industry and focuses her career on property building logistics and tenant relationships. She holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor of Science in psychology.