West Virginia Rent Control Laws in 2024

Introduction to West Virginia’s Rent Control Laws

West Virginia has specific laws that govern the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in residential rental properties. Some key provisions tenants and landlords should be aware of include:

Security Deposits

  • Landlords in West Virginia may charge a security deposit up to one month's rent. 
  • Deposits must be returned within 60 days after the tenant moves out, along with an itemized list of any deductions.
  • Tenants must provide a forwarding address in writing to receive deposit refunds.
  • Landlords cannot make deductions for normal wear and tear.  
  • Tenants can recover up to twice the amount improperly withheld plus reasonable attorney fees.


  • Landlords must maintain rental properties in fit and habitable condition. This includes hot/cold running water, heating, electricity, and appliances.
  • Tenants must give reasonable notice to landlords regarding needed repairs.
  • If a landlord fails to make repairs within a reasonable time, tenants may terminate the lease or repair and deduct costs from the rent.


  • Landlords must give tenants 24 hours advance notice before entering rental units, except in cases of emergency.  
  • Tenants can refuse entry or request alternate times for non-emergency entries.
  • Landlords cannot abuse right of entry or harass tenants.

Eviction Process in West Virginia

In West Virginia, a landlord must have legal cause to evict a tenant. Reasons a tenant can be evicted under WV law include:

  • Failure to pay rent
  • Violation of the rental agreement or rules 
  • Damage to the property 
  • Unreasonable nuisance to other tenants
  • Use of the property for illegal reasons

If a tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord must provide a 3-day written Pay or Quit notice informing the tenant to pay the full amount owed or move out. For other lease violations, the notice period is longer, typically 30 days.  

To proceed with an eviction, the landlord must file a complaint in magistrate court and schedule a hearing. The tenant will be served a summons to appear in court on the specified date. At the hearing, both parties can present evidence and testimony. If the judge rules in the landlord's favor, they will issue an order of eviction giving the tenant a set number of days to vacate.

The entire eviction timeline in West Virginia generally takes 2-6 weeks depending on the court's schedule. Tenants who do not move out by the deadline can be forcibly removed by the sheriff's department. It is illegal in WV for landlords to attempt "self-help" evictions by changing locks, shutting off utilities, or removing tenant belongings.

If a landlord files an improper or retaliatory eviction, tenants have legal recourse to contest it. Reasons a tenant can fight an eviction include discrimination, failure to make repairs, or retaliation for asserting their rights. Tenant advocacy groups can provide assistance with unlawful eviction cases in West Virginia.

Security Deposits in West Virginia 

Security deposits are governed by the West Virginia Residential Rental Security Deposit Act. This law sets limits on how much a landlord can collect as a security deposit and regulates how deposits must be handled.

Security Deposit Limits

In West Virginia, a landlord cannot require a security deposit of more than one month's rent. If rent is paid weekly, the maximum security deposit allowed is one week's rent. If utilities are included in the rent, the deposit cannot exceed one month's rent plus an additional $50.

Handling of Deposits 

Landlords in West Virginia must place security deposits in an escrow account. The funds must be kept separate from the landlord's personal money and cannot be used by the landlord while a tenant occupies the unit. 

Interest earned on security deposits belongs to the tenant. Landlords are required to pay tenants 5% interest annually on deposits if the rental property has more than four units. For smaller rental properties, landlords must pay interest only if specifically stated in the lease.

Returning Security Deposits

Within 60 days after a tenant moves out, the landlord must return the full security deposit plus any accrued interest, unless there are legitimate reasons for withholding a portion or all of the deposit.

Landlords can use the security deposit to cover any unpaid rent or damages beyond normal wear and tear. The landlord must provide the tenant with an itemized list of any deductions from the deposit within the 60 day timeframe.

If any of the deposit is wrongfully withheld, the tenant can recover up to twice the amount improperly held in a civil lawsuit.

Repairs and Maintenance Responsibilities

Under West Virginia law, landlords are required to maintain rental properties in a fit and habitable condition. This means ensuring that all systems and appliances are in good working order and making any necessary repairs in a timely manner.

Landlord Duties for Repairs 

Landlords have an ongoing obligation to keep the rental unit in a safe, sanitary, and livable condition. This includes:

  • Maintaining electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems
  • Keeping appliances in good and safe working order 
  • Making repairs to leaking roofs, broken windows, faulty locks, etc.
  • Ensuring there are no insect/rodent infestations
  • Maintaining common areas and facilities such as stairways, elevators, lobbies, etc.

Landlords are required to comply with all local housing codes and cannot rent out units that are deemed hazardous or uninhabitable. Periodic inspections may be conducted by local officials to identify any code violations that the landlord must fix.

Tenant Requests for Repairs

If a tenant discovers an issue that requires repair in the rental unit or building, they should notify the landlord in writing as soon as possible. This written request should describe the problem in detail and ask the landlord to make the necessary repairs. 

Tenants should keep a copy of the written request for their records. If the landlord does not respond or make the repairs within a reasonable timeframe, the tenant may have additional legal remedies available under WV law. Sending the request by certified mail provides proof that the landlord received the notice.

Common repairs a tenant may request include:

  • Fixing a broken appliance like a refrigerator or stove
  • Repairing a leaky roof, faucet, or pipe
  • Replacing broken windows or doors
  • Fixing electrical issues like no power in parts of the unit
  • Restoring heat or air conditioning if not functioning
  • Unclogging drains or toilets
  • Pest control if there is an infestation
  • Fixing other conditions that pose a hazard to health and safety

Tenant Privacy Protections

West Virginia law provides important protections for tenant privacy rights and limits a landlord's right to enter a rental unit. 

Notice Required for Entry

A landlord in West Virginia may only enter a rental unit for reasonable business purposes and after giving the tenant reasonable advance notice. Reasonable notice is considered 1-2 days. The notice must state the date, approximate time, and purpose for the entry. However, the landlord may enter immediately in an emergency such as a fire, flood, or burst pipe that threatens the rental property.

Entry Rules 

The landlord may enter to inspect the premises, make repairs, show the unit to prospective tenants or buyers, or deliver large packages that cannot fit in the mailbox. However, the landlord cannot abuse this right to harass the tenant. Entries are restricted to normal business hours.  

Tenant Not Home

If the tenant is not home when the landlord comes to enter, the landlord may not use this as an excuse to enter without proper notice again. They must still provide advance notice for any future entries even if the tenant is not there at the noticed time.


If a landlord violates the notice requirements and enters without giving proper advance notice, the tenant can pursue legal action. The tenant may file a lawsuit against the landlord to recover actual damages or get an injunction to stop the landlord from illegally entering.

Changing Locks

The tenant has the right to install new locks on the rental unit, as long as they provide the landlord with a duplicate key. The tenant may not change locks in a way that prevents the landlord from accessing the unit with their own key in an emergency.

West Virginia Landlord and Tenant Dos and Don'ts

Landlords and tenants in West Virginia have certain responsibilities under the state's landlord-tenant laws. Here are some key dos and don'ts for both parties:

Landlord Dos

  • Maintain the rental unit in habitable condition and make necessary repairs
  • Provide 24 hours written notice before entering the unit, except in emergencies  
  • Return the security deposit with interest within 30 days after tenant moves out
  • Follow proper procedures for evictions and nonpayment notices  

Landlord Don'ts

  • Shut off utilities as a means to force the tenant to vacate
  • Lock out or forcibly remove the tenant outside of court eviction process
  • Take tenant's personal property or change the locks without a court order
  • Harass, retaliate, or discriminate against tenants

Tenant Dos

  • Pay rent on time as required by the lease
  • Keep the unit clean, sanitary and avoid damaging the property
  • Dispose of waste properly and avoid disturbing other residents
  • Notify landlord promptly about necessary repairs or maintenance

Tenant Don'ts

  • Withhold rent without proper cause allowed by law 
  • Damage the unit or violate lease terms regarding guests or pets
  • Make unauthorized repairs or alterations without landlord consent
  • Unreasonably deny landlord access as required by law

Maintaining open communication and following West Virginia's landlord-tenant laws can help prevent conflicts and ensure a positive rental experience.

West Virginia Housing Quality Standards   

West Virginia law establishes minimum habitability standards that all rental housing must meet. Landlords are required to provide tenants with premises that are safe, sanitary, and fit for human habitation. At a minimum, rental units in West Virginia must have:

  • Functioning smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Hot and cold running water 
  • Proper plumbing, sewage disposal, and sanitary facilities  
  • Adequate heat, ventilation, and air conditioning
  • No insect or rodent infestation
  • Secure doors and windows
  • No chipping or peeling paint
  • No mold, water damage, or other maintenance issues

If a rental unit does not meet these minimum standards, the tenant has several options:

  • Notify the landlord in writing and request repairs be made promptly
  • Contact the local housing inspector or health department to file a complaint and request an inspection
  • File a lawsuit against the landlord for breach of the implied warranty of habitability 
  • Make necessary repairs and deduct the costs from the rent, provided proper notice is given
  • Withhold rent until repairs are made, but only if defects are substantial 

Tenants facing severe housing conditions like no heat, water, electricity or severe mold/insect issues may be able to legally break their lease. Consult an attorney before breaking a lease due to housing conditions.

Enforcing West Virginia Landlord Tenant Law

West Virginia has several agencies responsible for enforcing the state's landlord tenant laws and investigating complaints against noncompliant landlords. 

The West Virginia Division of Labor is the primary agency that oversees landlord tenant issues in the state. Tenants can file written complaints with the Division of Labor if a landlord fails to meet obligations for security deposits, maintenance and repairs, or habitability standards. The division has the authority to investigate complaints and take enforcement action if violations are found. Landlords who are noncompliant may face penalties such as fines.

Another option for tenants is to report issues to their local city or county housing agency. Many municipalities have their own housing inspectors who can investigate substandard property conditions or illegal practices by landlords. They can order repairs, condemn unsafe units, or pursue legal action against landlords.  

For serious cases of rental property code violations, tenants can reach out to the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office. Their inspectors have jurisdiction over fire safety issues, including lack of smoke detectors, faulty electrical systems, and blocked emergency exits. The Fire Marshal's Office can compel landlords to bring properties up to code.

In addition to filing official complaints, tenants can also report illegal behavior by landlords to organizations like the West Virginia Housing Development Fund and West Virginia Housing Institute. These nonprofits advocate for renters' rights and may be able to apply pressure on landlords to correct violations of the law. They can also direct tenants to legal aid resources.

If complaints, inspections, and notices of violation do not resolve issues with a noncompliant landlord, the state and cities can impose penalties. These may include civil monetary penalties, which allow fines of $25-$500 per day for ongoing violations. Landlords may also face misdemeanor charges for repeat violations. Through enforcement of landlord tenant law, West Virginia aims to ensure the rights of renters to safe, habitable housing.

West Virginia Small Claims Court

West Virginia has a small claims court system that allows tenants to sue landlords for violations of the state's landlord-tenant laws. The small claims court limit in West Virginia is $5,000, meaning tenants can sue for up to this amount without needing to hire a lawyer. 

Some common reasons tenants may sue their landlord in small claims court include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit or withholding it without justification
  • Failure to make necessary repairs to the rental unit
  • Illegal eviction or lockout
  • Retaliation for exercising tenant rights under the law

To file a claim in small claims court in West Virginia, tenants will need to visit the magistrate court in the county where the rental property is located. Tenants will need to fill out a civil complaint form stating the facts of their case and the damages they are seeking. The court will schedule a hearing within 15-30 days where the tenant and landlord can present evidence and testify before the magistrate judge.

Here are some tips for tenants appearing in small claims court against their landlord:

  • Gather documentation like the lease, rent receipts, repair requests, and photos as evidence. Bring multiple copies to submit.
  • Make a timeline of events and interactions with the landlord. Stick to the key facts in your testimony.
  • Dress professionally and remain calm and respectful. Don't argue with the landlord.
  • Request the allowed damages under WV law, such as 2x the security deposit for bad faith withholding.  
  • Carefully review the judge's decision before agreeing to any settlement offered by the landlord.

Small claims court gives tenants an affordable way to enforce their rights under West Virginia landlord-tenant law. With proper documentation and realistic expectations, tenants have a good chance of prevailing against landlords who violate the law.

West Virginia Rental Forms and Notices

Landlords and tenants in West Virginia use standard forms to communicate with each other and document their rental agreement. Having an understanding of the most common forms can help both parties know their rights and responsibilities.

Lease Agreement

The lease agreement outlines the terms of the tenancy, including rental amount, length of occupancy, and policies. Under West Virginia law, verbal rental agreements are legally binding, but having a written lease provides important protections for both landlords and tenants. 

Leases in West Virginia typically last for a fixed term, such as 6 months or 1 year. The lease automatically converts to month-to-month at the end of the fixed term if neither party terminates it.

Security Deposit Receipt 

Landlords must provide tenants with a receipt for the security deposit amount collected. This receipt should include the deposit amount, date received, and a statement of the terms under which it will be returned.

Move-In Inspection Form

Documenting the condition of the rental unit at move-in with photos and a signed inspection form helps avoid security deposit disputes. Tenants should note any pre-existing damage or issues.

Notice of Entry

Except for emergencies, landlords in West Virginia must give tenants reasonable advance notice before entering the rental unit. Typically 24-48 hours written notice is recommended.

Notice of Termination

To end a periodic tenancy, either the landlord or tenant must give 30 days written notice of lease termination in West Virginia. 60 days notice is required for year-long leases.

Cure or Quit Notice 

If the tenant violates the lease, the landlord can give a "Cure or Quit" notice outlining the violation and giving the tenant a chance to correct it or move out. 

Pay Rent or Quit Notice

This gives the tenant a certain number of days (typically 5) to pay overdue rent or move out. If the tenant fails to pay or vacate, the landlord can proceed with eviction.

Eviction Notice

If a tenant fails to comply with a notice to cure or quit, the landlord can give formal notice of their intent to start eviction proceedings. This gives the tenant one last chance to avoid court action.

Having proper documentation and using the right forms can help landlords and tenants avoid misunderstandings and disputes. Both parties should maintain copies of all notices and agreements in case legal issues arise.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can a landlord raise rent in West Virginia?

West Virginia does not have state-specific rent control laws, so landlords can generally raise rent by any amount they deem necessary. However, they must provide tenants with adequate notice—typically 30 days—before implementing the increase, especially for month-to-month leases. Rent cannot be raised during the term of a fixed lease unless explicitly stated in the lease agreement.

Is West Virginia a tenant-friendly state?

West Virginia is generally considered more landlord-friendly than tenant-friendly. The state's laws tend to favor landlords in terms of lease enforcement, eviction procedures, and limited regulations on rent increases.

What are my rights as a tenant in West Virginia?

Tenants in West Virginia have rights that include living in a habitable environment, having repairs made in a timely manner, and the right to withhold rent under certain conditions if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs. Tenants also have the right to privacy, meaning landlords must provide notice before entering the rented property, usually 24 hours.

Can a landlord raise rent during a lease in West Virginia?

A landlord cannot raise rent during the fixed term of a lease in West Virginia unless the lease agreement specifically allows for an increase. For month-to-month rental agreements, the landlord must provide at least a 30-day notice before increasing the rent.

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