Tenant Law in West Virginia
In Dunbar, 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 various 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 Dunbar, 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 Dunbar, WV
Much like landlords have a right to get paid for the service they provide, tenants have a right to get what they pay for: a suitable place to reside. In Dunbar, West Virginia, all residential rental agreements carry an "implied warranty of habitability." This means that a landlord implicitly guarantees that any residence he or she rents will be fit for human habitation. In general, an unit will be automatically deemed uninhabitable if it lacks running water, electricity, heat, and acceptable protection from the elements. There are various more factors that can be considered, as well, but those are some of the basics.
Tenants also have a right to ensure that the common areas of their apartment building are reasonably safe. Landlords are required to make sure that the common areas of their buildings meet Dunbar, West Virginia's building codes, and that there are no conditions that create unnecessary safety hazards. They are obligated to make, at their own expense, the proper repairs.
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.
Lastly, tenants are legally protected from arbitrary eviction. Landlords usually must have a very good reason to evict a tenant before the lease agreement reaches the end of its term (at this point, they are of course allowed to decline to renew the lease). Of course, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement (such as by failing to pay rent, damaging the property, or violating other reasonable rules the landlord has put in the lease), the landlord, like a party to any other contract, is free to terminate the agreement and evict the breaching tenant.
Can a Dunbar, West Virginia Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants typically prefer to avoid getting into fights with one another, for evident reasons. A harmonious relationship is profitable for everyone involved. To that end, the advice of a good Dunbar, West Virginia landlord/tenant attorney can help defuse arguments before they become too serious.