How to Delay an Eviction in West Virginia

In West Virginia, you can be evicted for a number of different reasons, including not paying rent or violating the lease. However, there may be a few things you can do to postpone the eviction, or perhaps even stop it altogether.

Understanding Your Eviction Notice

If your landlord decides to evict you, you may or may not receive written notice first. It depends on the reason why your landlord is evicting you. In West Virginia, if you are late in paying rent or have violated the lease or rental agreement, then your landlord does not need to give you notice before going straight to court and filing an eviction lawsuit against you (see W. Va. Code § 55-3A-1).

However, if you have a month-to-month rental agreement that your landlord wants to end, then you will receive written notice before the landlord terminates your tenancy. You will receive a 30-day notice to move. If you don’t move out of the rental unit in 30 days, then your landlord can proceed to court and file an eviction lawsuit against you (see W. Va. Code § 37-6-5).

It is important to note that you are not automatically evicted when the time period runs out. An eviction is a legal proceeding. If you did not comply with the eviction notice by the time the notice period ends, your landlord can then go to court and file the necessary paperwork to begin the eviction lawsuit against you. Depending on how busy the courts are, it could take anywhere from a week to months before a sheriff is ordered to evict you on a certain date. You can remain living in the rental unit until the sheriff is ordered to evict you, but remember that you will be required to pay the landlord rent until the day you move out of the unit.

Also, keep in mind that there are negative consequences to being evicted, other than losing your home. An eviction will have a negative impact on your credit report, and it could affect your prospects for future housing. Some landlords will not rent to people who have been evicted from a previous location.

For more information on the eviction process in West Virginia, see The Eviction Process in West Virginia. Also, if you are being evicted because the rental property is being foreclosed, see the Nolo article Rights of Renters in Foreclosure.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy to stop your eviction, you should look at Evictions and the Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy may not stop an eviction, and you should carefully consider your options before doing so.

Talk to Your Landlord

If you receive an eviction notice, you should first try talking to your landlord. You may be able to come to an agreement without going to court. An eviction will cost both of you money (as well as time), and your landlord may be willing to stop the eviction if you agree to certain terms, such as paying rent you owe or stopping behavior that violates the lease. If you can’t come to an agreement that prevents you from moving out, perhaps you can agree on a certain date and time for when you will move out of the rental unit.

If you and the landlord are able to agree on anything, be sure to get the agreement in writing, signed and dated by both of you.

Attend the Eviction Hearing

If you do not comply with the eviction notice and you and your landlord are not able to reach an agreement, then your landlord can file the eviction lawsuit with the court. You will receive a copy of the paperwork after your landlord files. You must look over this paperwork very carefully. It will have information on it regarding an upcoming hearing. You might also be required to file paperwork, such as an answer, with the court before attending this hearing. An answer is a document that allows you to state the reasons why you should not be evicted. This is where you need to put any defenses to the eviction, such as the rental unit needing necessary repairs. In West Virginia, a rental unit is required to have working heat and electricity and running hot and cold water, among other things. If the landlord fails to maintain the rental unit, then you might be able to use this as a defense against the eviction (see W.Va. Code § 37-6-30). For more ideas on possible defenses against an eviction, see Tenant Defenses to Evictions in West Virginia. You should also contact a lawyer to ensure you are using the best defenses available to you.

Regardless of whether you are required to file an answer, you must attend the scheduled hearing. At the hearing, the judge will listen to both you and the landlord and make a decision regarding the eviction. If you do not attend the hearing, the judge will likely rule against you.

For more information on the eviction process in West Virginia, see the Court Eviction Process, published by Legal Aid of West Virginia.

Even if you don’t have any defenses against the eviction, you should still attend the hearing and talk to the judge. Depending on your circumstances (such as if you have minor children living at home or health issues), the judge might not schedule the eviction right away. The judge might give you a little extra time to prepare and move out of the rental unit before ordering a sheriff to perform the eviction. Keep in mind, though, that you will still owe your landlord rent until you move out of the rental unit.

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