Tenant Law in West Virginia
In Bridgeport, West Virginia, it's not simple to be a tenant or a landlord, and relations between those parties can occasionally get testy.
Tenants and landlords have numerous legal rights and responsibilities. In general, these rights don't conflict with one another, as long as both parties are clear about what they are, and act accordingly.
Landlord's Rights in Bridgeport, WV
First and foremost, landlords have a right to timely payment of rent from their tenants, at the agreed-upon rate. This, of course, imposes on tenants a duty to pay their rent in whole, in a timely manner.
Landlords also have a right to be paid for damage to the building that a tenant causes, either intentionally or negligently. All damage caused by a tenant, besides reasonable wear and tear, can be billed, and the landlord can deduct from the tenant's security deposit to pay for repairs.
Tenant's Rights in Bridgeport, WV
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Consequently, landlords in Bridgeport, West Virginia must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal criteria that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Moreover, tenants are entitled to common areas which are reasonably safe and clean, and free of physical obstacles. Areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes must comply with the building codes of Bridgeport, West Virginia. Moreover, any other unreasonable safety hazard, even if it doesn't violate a specific provision of a building code, can create liability for the landlord if it injures a tenant.
Under federal and West Virginia law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords additionally cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Tenants are also legally safeguarded from unfair eviction. Before a lease agreement expires, landlords cannot evict tenants unless they breach as significant term of the agreement by not paying rent, causing serious damage to the property, engaging in activities that are a nuisance to the other tenants, or engaging in illegal activity on the property, among other things.
Can a Bridgeport, West Virginia Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants generally want to avoid conflict with one another. Nonetheless, conflicts are sometimes unavoidable. If you end up in a major dispute with a landlord or a tenant, a reliable Bridgeport, West Virginia landlord/tenant attorney can help.