CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Renting can be confusing. The various laws, policies and long contracts can leave your head spinning. But above all, here are five rights that you have as a tenant in West Virginia.
- Landlords are required to repair damages. According to the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), upon receiving written notice landlords have 14 days to repair any damages to essential services not caused directly by tenant negligence. Upon failure to repair within the time limit, tenants have the right to hire a professional to make repairs and may deduct a “reasonable amount” from the following month’s rent.
- Landlords must return your security deposit in a timely manner. The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office states that as of 2011, landlords must return your security deposit to you within 60 days of your lease ending. If they must use your deposit to cover repairs, they also must provide you with an itemized bill pursuant to West Virginia State Code §37-6A-2.
- Landlords may not lock you out. The AAOA states that pursuant to West Virginia State Code 37-6, landlords may not lock their tenants out, nor shut off their utilities for any reason until a proper eviction has been filed and processed through court.
- You can not be evicted on the spot. According to the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, landlords may not evict a tenant without first going through court, providing the tenant with the opportunity to contest their case. Additionally, it is unlawful for the landlord to refuse to rent or to evict a tenant because of race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, familial status, blindness, handicap or national origin.
- You have a right to privacy. The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office also says that landlords may not enter a tenant’s property without the tenant’s consent or without first giving notice. The only exception is if the landlord must perform emergency repairs.
If you need to report your landlord for a violation, the best way to do so is by contacting the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808 or by visiting wvago.gov.