Eviction Process in West Virginia
The eviction process in West Virginia begins with a notice sent from landlord to tenant. In the notice the landlord must state a reason for the complaint filed with the court and they must also tell you which type of eviction the landlord is seeking, a summary eviction or unlawful detainer. The landlord must have a legitimate reason to evict you
Legal reasons for the landlord to evict you in West Virginia include
- Being behind on the rent
- Breaking lease covenants
- Damage to the rental property
- You are holding over (lease is up but you haven’t moved out)
- You don’t have a written lease
The eviction notice you receive from your landlord is controlled by your state landlord tenant laws rather than your residential lease agreement. This is also true for the eviction process. While your rental agreement form states when your lease begins and ends, it doesn’t usually contain information about eviction notice processes. Rental laws derive from the landlord tenant rules (state statutes) Eviction procedures vary widely around the country, just like eviction rules. All the names at the bottom of the page are various names for eviction notices or lease ending notices. However, they are used to accomplish different purposes. For this reason, it is crucial to examine the notice you get from your landlord carefully. Ask yourself “What is it that the landlord is trying to accomplish with this notice? What is it that I am supposed to do?”
Eviction Process in West Virginia
In order for a tenant to be evicted in West Virginia they must be given a complaint and summons form. These have to be served on the tenant by the sheriff’s deputy and handed to the tenant or left with someone who is a resident under the lease who is at least 16 years old. The landlord cannot serve the papers themselves. The complaint must state the reasons why the landlord is suing the tenant for eviction. The summons will give the date, time and place of the court hearing and how long you have to file an answer. The answer is the response which the tenant gives the landlord which addresses the allegations that they are making and which allow the tenant to tell your side of the story.
First look at the summons and determine whether it is a summary eviction or an unlawful detainer. Summary evictions are titled “petition for summary relief for wrongful occupation of residential property”. You’ll also get a form for your answer. Summary eviction suits are usually heard in court within five or 10 days. However summary eviction suits only give the landlord possession of the property and not money damages (like for back rent) unless you fail to answer the complaint or do not show up for trial. The purpose of the summary eviction is to regain possession of the property as quickly as possible.
The other type of eviction action is an unlawful detainer in which the landlord can receive damages or rent in addition to the eviction. For an unlawful detainer the tenant must file a response in five days but the trial is not scheduled in 5 to 10 days like a summary eviction trial would be. Regular Rules of Court apply and the tenant will receive a notice in the mail of the trial date
In summary eviction actions the case comes to court no sooner than five weekdays after the landlord files a complaint in Magistrate court. The weekdays are counted beginning the day after you were served and not counting weekends. The tenant may request a continuance by getting a form from the Magistrate court. The tenant can also request a jury trial on the answer form. The tenant can also move the case to Circuit court if the amount of money is more than $300. To do so, you file a document called a “motion for removal” with the Magistrate before the scheduled trial. If you do not have the money to pay the filing fee you can fill out an affidavit of indigency.
If the tenant does not go to court on the hearing date, the landlord can obtain a judgment for the back rent as well as an eviction judgment because you did not contest the case. However if you do go to court on the hearing date, the landlord can only obtain possession of the property and not a money judgment against you.
At the hearing, the landlord and tenant each get an opportunity to present their side of the case. Bring all important papers to the trial with you. After the Magistrate has heard the information they will reach a decision. If the tenant wins, they can remain in the unit. If the landlord wins, the tenant is told to leave. The tenant has the opportunity to appeal the decision to Circuit court if the appeal is filed within 20 days after the decision. During the appeal period, you cannot be evicted. However you must continue to pay rent during that period of time. If the Circuit court agrees to hear the appeal it will be a completely new trial before a circuit court judge. This means you are not limited to the issues that were raised during the first trial.
Most states require that evictions occur for only a few reasons that are defined in the state’s Landlord-Tenant statutes. You can download the statutes for your state from this website. The book “How to Stop an Eviction” has chapters on contents of notices and types of notices. If the notice you receive does not contain the correct information, you can get your eviction action cancelled. To obtain those chapters go here.
How the notice is served on you is very important. States have different notice requirements, defined by the state statutes. You can download your state statutes from this website. If the notice was given to you improperly, you can get your eviction action cancelled. The book “How to Stop an Eviction” has a chapter on serving the notice so you can see if you were served properly. To obtain the chapter, go here.
After the notice period, the landlord summons the tenant to court. The summons must meet state standards for content and timing. The state standards can be downloaded from this website. The book “How to Stop an Eviction” has a chapter on contents of the summons so you can verify that the summons contained the correct information. If it does not, you may be able to get the eviction dismissed. To get access to that information, go here.
How the summons is served is important in the tenant’s defense. Many states require that the summons notice be served by someone other than the landlord. The service is often done improperly. In the book “How to Stop an Eviction” there is a section on contesting service of the summons. To get that information, go here.
It is also important that the tenant respond properly to the summons with the correct information to use at trial. There is an extensive chapter in the book “How to Stop an Eviction” showing the tenant how and where to research to determine problems with the landlord’s position. The response to the summons is where that research is entered. The chapter contains over 200 defenses to the eviction. To get access to the information, go here.
In the book “How to Stop an Eviction” there are two chapters relating to the trial. One chapter focusses on preparing for the trial, organizing the information and preparing it to be summarized and presented quickly. The other chapter is on trial strategy. Knowing what information to bring up and when is crucial to the tenant winning. To get access to that information, go here.
If the tenant loses at trial, there are still an additional 9 ways to either win or stall the eviction, sometimes for months. To get access to that information, go here.
Other Useful Information Below
1) Types of tenancies
The notices that you get from your landlord are based on the type of tenant you are. The landlord is required to know what type of tenant you are and to give you the proper notice. If they give you the wrong type of notice, you can often get your eviction action dismissed. To figure out which type of tenant you are, click on this type of tenancy for a quick analysis.
2) Bad mistakes that landlords make that can get them sued.
Click on the links below to see a quick summary of the problem
Health and safety Violations
Violations of Quiet Enjoyment
Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices
3) Getting the laws of your state
This summary information is provided with the understanding that it is subject to errors, omissions and misstatements. State laws are updated frequently and the most up to the minute information is contained in your state’s statutes.
It is important that you obtain the laws of your state and completely review them. We have a link on this website for you to obtain your state’s laws. To get your state’s laws, go to the home page of this site, and look at the top menu for the state laws. Click on the dropdown menu and then click on your state. You will get a link where you can download your state’s laws.
See paragraph above for context of the notices below. The paragraph begins “The eviction Notice”.
Letter of Eviction Notice
3 Day Notice to Quit
Landlord 30 Day Notice
3 Day Eviction
30 Day Eviction
3 day Eviction Notice
3 Day Notice of Eviction
Tenant Notice to Vacate
Notice to Tenant to Vacate
End Tenancy Letter
30 day Notice of Eviction
Notice to Vacate letter
3 Day Notice to Vacate
Notice to Tenants
Letter of Eviction
30 Day Notice to Vacate
Lease termination letter
Notice to Evict letter
Notice to Vacate
Notice For Eviction
Notice to End Lease
For the eviction process in other states, click the link below