Tenant Law in West Virginia
In Charleston, West Virginia, it's not easy to be a tenant or a landlord, and relations between those parties can sometimes get testy.
Tenants and landlords have several 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 Charleston, 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 full, in a timely manner.
Landlords also have a right to be compensated for damage to the building that a tenant causes, either intentionally or negligently. Any 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 Charleston, WV
The most basic right of a tenant is the right to a living space that's fit for human habitation. This is, after all, what they're paying the landlord to provide. Landlords in Charleston, West Virginia are under a legal duty to make sure that their apartments are habitable. There are several factors that are considered in determining if an unit is habitable or not, but, generally, an unit will not be deemed habitable if it lacks any of the following: running water, electricity, heat, and protection from the elements (such as proper insulation, and windows that close).
In addition to habitable living spaces, tenants also have a right to reasonably safe common areas. Common areas include lobbies, hallways, and stairwells - basically anything that everyone living in an apartment complex has access to. These common areas must meet the building standards of Charleston, West Virginia, and must not contain any unnecessary safety hazards.
A tenant also has a right, under federal law and the laws of West Virginia to be free from discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, or gender. Landlords can further not discriminate against persons with disabilities, and must make reasonable accommodations for those disabilities.
And finally, most state laws prevent landlords from arbitrarily evicting tenants. If the lease agreement is for a set period of time, the landlord typically can't evict the tenant until the lease expires, without a good reason. Valid causes for eviction include unpaid rent, illegal activities on the property, damage to the building caused by the tenant, and excessive noise.
Can a Charleston, West Virginia Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Tenants and landlords always want to avoid getting into any serious disputes - these disputes interfere with the tenant's living arrangement, and the landlord's business. In short, they help nobody. While a good Charleston, West Virginia attorney can certainly help his or her client prevail in such a dispute, they may be more valuable for their ability to help prevent such disputes from escalating in the first place.