West Virginia, landlords can initiate the eviction process without providing advanced notice if the tenant has failed to pay rent or violated the lease agreement. Once initiated, the eviction process can take one to three months, depending on how quickly a hearing can be scheduled and in what court the case is heard.
If you’re a renter, it’s always worthwhile to know your tenant rights—especially when it comes to evictions. In West Virginia, your landlord can evict you for several reasons, most of which you don’t have to be notified about until you’re summoned to court.
Whether you’re looking to protect yourself from an unwarranted eviction or seeking advice throughout the process,
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expert advice—is here with a breakdown of eviction laws in your state. From the reasons you can be evicted to how you can fight back, this article will cover it all.
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West Virginia eviction 101: reasons you can be evicted
West Virginia landlords may begin the eviction process under several circumstances:
- Failure to pay rent: If the tenant does not submit the set rent payment by the due date, the landlord may begin the eviction process without advanced notice.
- Violation of the lease agreement: If the tenant violates some portion of the lease, such as keeping an unauthorized pet or engaging in criminal activity, the landlord can initiate eviction without advanced notice.
- Tenant at will: If the tenant’s lease term has expired or there is no lease, the landlord can begin the eviction process but must issue prior notice. Generally speaking, if the lease is week-to-week or month-to-month, advanced notice equivalent to the lease period is needed. For a fixed-lease term that has expired, the landlord must issue a 90-day Notice to Quit.
There are no state laws mandating that landlords notify tenants of eviction before initiating the process. Of course, your landlord may choose to let you know ahead of time—but since they technically don’t have to, it’s best to be prepared.
Key Takeaway If a tenant fails to pay rent or violates the lease agreement, landlords can begin the eviction process without advanced notice or allowing the tenant to correct the issue in West Virginia.
A timeline of eviction in West Virginia
The general timeline of the eviction process in West Virginia is one to three months. If a hearing is scheduled quickly and the case is heard in Magistrate court, the timeline may be a lot shorter than if the case is, say, moved to Circuit Court.
For a more exact breakdown of what to expect, see the chart below:
How long it typically takes
What to expect
Notice is posted
Notice is not legally required except in the cases of no lease/end-of-lease evictions. For violations of the lease agreement, including nonpayment of rent, the eviction process may begin immediately without notice.
Complaint is filed and served
Up to 10 days before the hearing
As the tenant, you will be served a court summons no later than 10 days before the date of the heating. This summons will also include the complaint your landlord has filed against you; for most tenants, this is the first notice of eviction.
Court hearing and judgment
5-10 business days after the request for the hearing is made
You may choose to file a response to your landlord’s complaint within five days of receiving your summons. The hearing will occur no later than 10 days after it’s requested by your landlord, although it may take longer in Circuit Court than in Magistrate Court.
Writ of Possession is issued
A few hours to a few weeks
If the court sides with your landlord, a Writ of Possession will be issued outlining how long you have to vacate the property (typically one to four weeks).
Possession of property
A few hours to a few days
If you fail to abide by the court-ordered deadline, a sheriff may be sent to remove you.
If the ruling comes out in your landlord’s favor, not all hope is lost—you have the right to file an appeal with the court. The appeals process can take up to three months, however, and won’t protect your right to stay on the property until a final verdict is made.
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How to resist eviction in West Virginia
If you’re facing eviction in West Virginia, you’ll want to know your tenant’s rights. Under some circumstances, you may be able to avoid or fight against the eviction:
- Address the cause of the eviction: You may be able to avoid an eviction altogether by addressing the cause—such as paying an outstanding rent or repairing damage to the property. But since West Virginia landlords are not required to give you advanced notice, this option isn’t always available.
- Pay attention to property maintenance: If your landlord has failed to repair or maintain a health or safety violation in your rental unit, despite receiving a good faith complaint from you regarding the issue, you may be able to get out of an eviction case.
- Retaliation: Your landlord may not evict you as retaliation against making a complaint about the unit or exercising your tenant rights—in such cases, you can file a lawsuit against your landlord.
- Discrimination: In West Virginia, a landlord is not allowed to evict a tenant on the basis of identity markers like race, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, or religion. If you suspect your eviction could be tied to discriminatory behavior, you may be able to get your case dismissed.
- False information: It is also illegal for landlords in West Virginia to evict tenants on the basis of false information. If you can prove the complaint was filed based on false information, the eviction case may be dropped.
There are ways you can protect yourself against eviction in West Virginia, particularly if you feel the reasoning for the complaint was unlawful. In any case, knowing your tenant’s rights can give you an advantage in the process—and help keep you from losing your home.
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