ARTICLE 6. LANDLORD AND TENANT.§37-6-1. Rights of
parties on transfer of land or reversion.
An heir, devisee, grantee or assignee of any land let to lease, or
of the reversion thereof, and his heirs, personal representative
or assigns, shall enjoy against the lessee, his personal
representative, devisees or assigns, the like advantage by action
or entry upon any condition or forfeiture, or by action upon any
covenant or promise in the lease, which the grantor, assignor, or
lessor might have enjoyed.
§37-6-2. Rights of lessee against transferee of reversion.
A lessee, his personal representatives, devisees or assigns, may
have against an heir, devisee, grantee or alienee of the
reversion, or of any part thereof, or of any estate therein, his
heirs, devisees, or assigns, the like benefit of any condition,
covenant, or promise in the lease, as he could have had against
the lessors themselves; except the benefit of any warranty, in
deed or law.
§37-6-3. Effect of transfer of rent, reversion or remainder.
When rents are inherited, conveyed
or devised, all rights of distress and reentry, or either of them,
shall pass to the heir, grantee or devisee without express words.
An inheritance, grant, or devise of a rent, or of a reversion or
remainder, shall be good and effectual without attornment of the
tenant; but no tenant, who, before the death of the ancestor or
testator, or before notice of the grant, shall have paid the rent
to the ancestor, testator, or grantor, shall suffer any damage
§37-6-4. Attornment to stranger void.
The attornment of a tenant to any
stranger shall be void, unless it be with the consent of the
landlord of such tenant, or pursuant to, or in consequence of, the
judgment, order, or decree of a court.
§37-6-5. Notice to terminate tenancy.
A tenancy from year to year may be terminated by either party
giving notice in writing to the other, at least three months prior
to the end of any year, of his intention to terminate the same. A
periodic tenancy, in which the period is less than one year, may
be terminated by like notice, or by notice for one full period
before the end of any period. When such notice is to the tenant,
it may be served upon him, or upon anyone holding under him the
leased premises, or any part thereof. When it is by the tenant, it
may be served upon anyone who at the time owns the premises in
whole or in part, or the agent of such owner, or according to the
common law. This section shall not apply where, by special
agreement, some other period of notice is fixed, or no notice is
to be given; nor shall notice be necessary from or to a tenant
whose term is to end at a certain time.
§37-6-6. Desertion of leased property; entry; recovery of rent,
disposition of abandoned personal property; notice.
(a) If any tenant from whom rent is in arrears and unpaid abandons
the leased property, the landlord or his or her agent shall post a
notice in writing in a conspicuous part of the property, requiring
the tenant to pay the rent within one month. If the rent is not
paid within that time, the landlord shall be entitled to
possession of the property, and may enter thereon, and the right
of the tenant to the leased property shall end. The landlord may
recover the rent owed up to the time when he or she became
entitled to possession.
§37-6-7. Reletting by landlord.
(b) If any tenant of a housing development operated by a housing
authority abandons the leased property when rent is not a
condition of the lease agreement, the housing authority shall post
a notice in writing in a conspicuous part of the property,
requiring the tenant to respond in writing within one month
stating that he or she has not abandoned the leased property. If
the tenant does not respond in writing within one month, stating
that he or she has not abandoned the leased property, the housing
authority shall be entitled to possession of the property, and may
enter thereon, and the right of the tenant to the leased property
c) Upon regaining possession of the property, the landlord or his
or her agent or housing authority may take, dispose of or
otherwise remove the tenant's personal property without incurring
any liability to the tenant or any other person. To dispose of the
tenant's property under this section, the landlord or housing
authority shall give a written notice to the tenant that shall be:
(1) Posted in a conspicuous place on the property; and
(2) Sent by first-class mail with a certificate of mailing, which
provides a receipt of the date of mailing, in an envelope endorsed
"Please Forward", addressed and mailed to the tenant at:
(A) The leased property;
(B) Any post office box held by the tenant and known to the
landlord or housing authority; and
(C) The most recent forwarding address if provided by the tenant
or known to the landlord or housing authority.
(d) The written notice required under subsection (c) of this
section shall state that:
(1) The leased property is considered abandoned;
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (c) of this
section, if the abandoned personal property is worth more than
three hundred dollars and was not removed from the property or
from the place of safekeeping within the time period stated in the
notice required in subsection (d) of this section, the landlord
shall store the personal property for up to thirty additional days
if the tenant or any person holding a security interest in the
abandoned personal property informs the landlord of their intent
to remove the property: Provided, That the tenant or person
holding a security interest in the abandoned personal property
pays the landlord the reasonable costs of storage and removal.
(2) Any personal property left by the tenant must be removed
from the property or from the place of safekeeping, if the
landlord or housing authority has stored the property, by a date
specified in the written notice that is:
(A) Not less than thirty days after the date the written
notice was mailed; or
(3) If the personal property is not removed within the time
provided for in this section, then the tenant forfeits his or
her ownership rights to the personal property, and the personal
property becomes the property of the landlord or housing
(B) Not less than sixty days after the date the written notice
was mailed if the tenant has notified the landlord or housing
authority that he or she is on active duty in the armed forces
of the United States.
The landlord, or other person entitled to the rent may, however,
at his election, incorporate, in the notice provided for in the
preceding section, the further notice that he will, after he shall
have taken possession of the demised premises, lease the premises
to some other person, in which case the tenant will still remain
liable upon his lease, for the unexpired portion of his term, for
the difference between the amount of rent received by the landlord
from the new tenant, and the amount payable under the lease of the
original tenant, and upon any other covenants or agreements
contained in the original lease.
§37-6-8. Tenant's right to recover possession.
If the landlord shall have elected to continue to hold the tenant
liable upon his lease, as provided in the preceding section, the
tenant shall be entitled, upon the payment of all arrears of rent,
and the satisfaction of any liabilities which shall have accrued
upon the covenants or agreements contained in his lease, and any
other liabilities with which he is chargeable by virtue of his
lease, to the possession of the premises, except to the extent
that some other person is already in possession of the premises,
or is entitled to such possession, by virtue of a lease made by
the landlord to such other person pursuant to the notice given
under the preceding section, before the tenant shall have notified
the landlord in writing of his intention to resume possession of
the premises, and shall have satisfied, or tendered an amount
sufficient to satisfy, his liabilities under his lease as
aforesaid. No tenant whose lease has been lawfully forfeited,
under the second preceding section, shall be entitled to any
right, either at law or in equity, to be relieved of such
forfeiture, or to reenter the premises, except as provided in this
§37-6-9. Recovery of rent by distress or action; evidence;
Rent of every kind may be recovered by distress or action. A
landlord may also, by action, recover a reasonable satisfaction
for the use and occupation of lands, and, on the trial of such
action, if any parol demise, or any agreement wherein a certain
rent was reserved, shall appear in evidence, the plaintiff shall
not for that reason be nonsuited, but may use the same as evidence
of the amount of his debt or damages. In any action for rent, or
for such use and occupation, interest shall be allowed as on other
§37-6-10. Who may recover rent.
He to whom rent or compensation is due, whether he have the
reversion or not, his personal representative or assignee, may
recover it as provided in the preceding section, or may, in a
proper case, resort to an attachment, whatever be the estate of
the person owing it, or though his estate or interest in the land
be ended. And when the owner of real estate in fee, or holder of a
term, yielding him rent, dies, the rent thereafter due shall be
recoverable by such owner's heir or devisee, or such term-holder's
personal representative or devisee. And if the owner or holder
alien or assign his estate or term, or the rent thereafter to fall
due thereon, his alienee or assignee may recover such rent.
§37-6-11. Persons liable for rent.
Rent may be recovered from the lessee, or other person owing it,
or the heir, personal representative, devisee or assignee, who has
succeeded to the lessee's estate in the premises. But no assignee
shall be liable for rent which became due before his interest
began. Nothing herein shall change or impair the liability of
heirs, personal representatives, or devisees, for rent, to the
extent and in the manner in which they are liable for other debts
of the ancestor or testator; nor shall the mere merger of the
reversion to which a rent is incident affect the liability for
§37-6-12. Distress for rent; time and place; warrant.
Rent may be distrained for within one year after the time it
becomes due, and not afterwards, whether the lease be ended or
not. The distress shall be made by any sheriff or constable of the
county wherein the premises yielding the rent or some part thereof
may be or the goods liable to distress may be found, under a
warrant from a justice founded upon the affidavit of the person
claiming the rent, or his agent, that the amount of money or other
thing to be distrained for (to be specified in the affidavit), as
he verily believes, is justly due to the claimant for rent
reserved upon contract from the person of whom it is claimed.
§37-6-13. Property subject to distress.
The distress may be levied on any goods of the lessee, or his
assignee or undertenant, found on the premises, or which may have
been removed therefrom not more than thirty days. If the goods of
such lessee, assignee or undertenant, when carried on the premises,
are subject to a lien which is valid against his creditors, his
interest only in such goods shall be liable to such distress. If any
lien be created thereon while they are upon the leased premises,
they shall be liable to distress, but for not more than one year's
rent, whether it shall have accrued before or after the creation of
the lien: Provided, That if the goods are subject to a perfected
purchase money security interest, as defined in section one hundred
seven, article nine, chapter forty-six of this code, and that such
purchase money security interest is in effect under the terms set
forth in section four hundred three, article nine of chapter
forty-six of this code, then the goods are liable to distress only
to the extent of the unencumbered interest of the lessee, assignee
or undertenant. No goods shall be liable to distress other than such
as are declared to be so liable in this section.
§37-6-14. Forcible entry by officer.
The officer having such distress warrant or an order of
attachment, based upon rent, if there be need for it, may, in the
daytime, break open and enter into any house or close in which
there may be goods liable to the distress or order, and may,
either in the day or nighttime, break open and enter into any
house or close wherein there may be any goods so liable, which
have been fraudulently or clandestinely removed from the demised
§37-6-15. Unlawful act after making distress; damages.
Where distress shall be made for rent justly due, and any
irregularity or unlawful act shall afterwards be done by the party
distraining, or his agent, the distress itself shall not be deemed
to be unlawful, nor the party making it be therefore deemed a
trespasser ab initio; but the aggrieved by such irregularity or
unlawful act may, by action, recover full satisfaction for the
special damage he shall have sustained thereby.
§37-6-16. Distress or attachment when rent not payable in money.
Where goods are distrained or attached for rent reserved in a share
of the crops, or in anything other than money, the claimant of the
rent, having given the tenant ten days' notice, or if he be out of
the county, having set up the notice in some conspicuous place on
the premises, may apply to the court or justice to which the
distress or attachment is returnable, to fix the value of
such rent. Upon such application the court or justice having
ascertained the value, either by its own judgment, or, if either
party require it, by the verdict of a jury impaneled without the
formality of pleading, shall order the goods distrained or attached,
to be sold to pay the amount so ascertained.
§37-6-17. Attachment for rent.
On complaint by any landlord or person entitled to rent, or his
agent, to a justice, that any person liable to him for rent
intends to remove, or is removing, or has within thirty days
removed his effects from the leased premises, if such landlord or
person entitled to rent, or his agent, make oath to the truth of
such complaint to the best of his belief, and to the rent which is
reserved (whether in money or other thing) and will be payable
within one year, and the time or times when it will be payable,
and also make oath either that there is not, or he believes,
unless an attachment issues, there will not be, left on such
premises, property liable to distress sufficient to satisfy the
rent so to become payable, such justice shall, if the landlord or
person entitled to rent, or his agent, shall execute before such
justice a bond in the penalty and with the conditions prescribed
in section eight, article seven, chapter thirty-eight of this
code, issue an order of attachment for such rent against the
personal estate of the person so liable therefor. If the amount of
rent claimed by the landlord or person entitled to the rent, or
his agent, exclusive of interest, is fifty dollars or less than
that amount, the order of attachment shall be returnable before
the justice issuing the order, or another justice; if the amount
of rent so claimed, exclusive of interest, is more than fifty
dollars and not more than three hundred dollars, the order of
attachment may be returnable before the justice issuing the order,
or another justice, or to the next term of the circuit court
thereafter; and if the amount of rent so claimed, exclusive of
interest, exceeds three hundred dollars, the order of attachment
shall be returnable to the next term of the circuit court
thereafter. If the order of attachment is returnable to the
circuit court, it shall be in form or effect as follows:
"District of ...................., ....................
The above-named plaintiff having
filed with me the affidavit and bond required by law, the
sheriff of the County of ...................., or any constable
therein to whom this order may come, is
hereby required, in the name of the State of West Virginia, to
attach and take into his possession
the personal estate of the defendant, C................
sufficient to pay the sum of ............... dollars (the sum
affiant states will be due), and the costs of
this attachment, and to make return of his proceedings under this
order to the next term of the
circuit court of the said county.
Given under my hand this ........ day of ......., 19.....
E.......... F.........., Justice."
The defendant, in an attachment
issued under the next preceding paragraph, may make
defense thereto in the same manner and to the same extent as in
other cases of attachment; and
the same, as to the rent claimed, shall be proceeded in, tried and
determined, as if it were an
original action brought in said circuit court, and the affidavit and
attachment shall take the place of
a declaration in the case. The affidavit in such case shall be
returned to the clerk of the circuit
court by the justice. The provisions of sections seven to forty-six,
both inclusive, except sections
thirty-seven, thirty-eight, and thirty- nine, article seven, chapter
thirty-eight of this code, shall be
applicable to attachments issued hereunder and returnable to the
If the order of attachment is
returnable before a justice, it shall be in form or effect as
"District of ....., .....,
"A..... B......, Plaintiff, ) Order
vs. ) of
C..... D....., Defendant. ) Attachment
The above-named plaintiff having
filed with me the affidavit and bond required by law, any
constable in the County of ............, to whom this order may
come, is hereby required, in the
name of the State of West Virginia, to attach and take into his
possession the personal estate of
the defendant, C.......... D.........., sufficient to pay the sum of
.......... dollars (the sum affiant
states will be due), and the costs of this attachment, and to make
return of his proceedings under
this order to me (or, if the order is made returnable before another
justice, to G.......... H..........),
a justice of the peace in .......... County.
Given under my hand this ..... day of
The provisions of sections seven to
twenty-four, both inclusive, article nine, chapter fifty of
this code shall be applicable to attachments issued hereunder and
returnable before a justice.
§37-6-18. Removal of goods by third party having lien.
If, after the commencement of any tenancy, a lien be obtained or
created by trust deed, mortgage, or otherwise, upon the interest
or property in goods on premises leased or rented, of any person
liable for the rent, the party having such lien may remove such
goods from the premises on the following terms, and not otherwise,
that is to say: On the terms of paying to the person entitled to
the rent, so much as is in arrear, and securing to him so much as
is to become due; what is so paid or secured not being more
altogether than a year's rent in any case: Provided, That if the
party removing such goods has perfected a purchase money security
interest in the goods, as defined in section one hundred seven,
article nine, chapter forty-six of this code and that such
purchase money security interest is in effect under the terms set
forth in section four hundred three, article nine, chapter
forty-six of this code, then the goods are liable to distress only
to the extent of the unencumbered interest of the lessee, assignee
or undertenant. If the goods be taken under legal process, the
officer executing it shall, out of the proceeds of the goods, make
such payment of what is in arrear; and, as to what is to become
due, he shall sell a sufficient portion of the goods on a credit
till then, taking from the purchaser bond, with good security,
payable to the person so entitled, and delivering such bond to
him. If the goods be not taken under legal process, such payment
and security shall be made and given before their removal. Neither
this nor any other section of this article shall affect any lien
for taxes or levies.
§37-6-19. Right of reentry; ejectment; unlawful detainer; judgment
Any person who shall have the right of reentry into the lands by
reason of any rent issuing thereout being in arrear, or by reason
of the breach of any covenant or condition, may serve a
declaration in ejectment on the tenant in possession, where there
shall be such tenant, or, if the possession be vacant, by affixing
the declaration upon the chief door of any messuage, or at any
other conspicuous place on the premises, which service shall be in
lieu of a demand and reentry; or may commence an action of
unlawful detainer, and obtain service either in person or by
publication, as in other such actions, which service shall be in
lieu of a demand and reentry; and upon proof to the court, by
affidavit in case of udgment by default, or upon proof on the
trial that the rent claimed was due, and there was not sufficient
property subject to distress upon the premises to satisfy the
claim for rent due, or that the covenant or condition was broken
efore the service of the declaration in ejectment, or the
commencement of the action of unlawful detainer, and that the
plaintiff had power thereupon to reenter, he shall recover
judgment, and have execution for such lands. In case the time for
eentering be specified in the instrument creating the rent,
covenant or condition, the proceedings in ejectment or unlawful
detainer shall not be begun until such time shall have elapsed.
§37-6-20. Relief against forfeiture.
Should the defendant, or other person for him, not pay the rent in
arrear, with interests and costs, nor file a bill in equity for
relief against such forfeiture, within twelve months after
execution executed, he shall be barred of all rights, in law or
equity, to be restored to such lands or tenements.
§37-6-21. Rights of mortgagee or trustee.
Any mortgagee or trustee of the tenant's interest in such lands,
or any part thereof, whether he be in possession of the lands or
not, may, within twelve months after execution executed, pay the
rent and all arrears, with interest and costs, or file a bill in
equity for relief against such forfeiture; and thereupon may be
relieved against it, on the same terms and conditions as the
tenant of such lands or tenements would be entitled to.
§37-6-22. Injunction against ejectment or unlawful detainer.
If the tenant of such lands, or any person having a right or
claim thereto, shall, within the time aforesaid, file his bill for
relief in the circuit court of the county wherein the lands are
situated, he shall not have or continue any injunction against he
proceedings at law on the ejectment or unlawful detainer, unless
he shall, within thirty days next after a full and perfect answer
filed by the plaintiff in ejectment, or unlawful detainer, bring
into court or deposit in some bank within the state, to the credit
of the cause, such money as the plaintiff in ejectment or unlawful
detainer shall, in his answer, swear to be due and in arrear over
and above all just allowances, and also the costs taxed in the
suit, there to remain till the hearing of the cause, or to be paid
out to such plaintiff on good security, subject to the decree of
§37-6-23. Effect of payment of rent or relief in equity.
If any party having a right or claim to such lands shall, at any
time before the trial in such action of ejectment or of unlawful
detainer, pay or tender to the party entitled to such rent, or to
his attorney in the cause, or pay into court, all the rents and
arrears, with interest and costs, all further proceedings in the
action shall cease. If the person claiming the land shall, upon
bill filed as aforesaid, be relieved in equity, he shall hold the
land as before the proceedings began, without a new lease or
§37-6-24. Record of reentry; publication of certificate.
Where actual reentry shall be made, the party, by or for whom the
same shall be made, shall return a written act of reentry, sworn
to by the sheriff or other officer acting therein, to the clerk of
the county court of the county wherein the lands or tenements
shall be, who shall record the same in the deed book, and shall
deliver, to the party making the reentry, a certificate setting
forth the substance of such written act, and that the same had
been left in his office to be recorded, which certificate shall be
published as a Class II legal advertisement in compliance with the
provisions of article three, chapter fifty- nine of this code, and
the publication area for such publication shall be such county.
Such ublication shall be proved by affidavit to the satisfaction
of such clerk, who shall note the fact on the margin of the deed
book against the record of the act of reentry in the words,
"Publication made and proved according to law, A ...........
B .........., Clerk," and shall return the original act of
reentry to the party entitled thereto. Such written act of
reentry, when recorded, and the record thereof, or a duly
certified copy from such record, shall be evidence in all cases of
the facts therein set forth.
§37-6-25. Fees of clerk.
The clerk shall be paid for recording, granting certificate, and
noting publication, as aforesaid, one dollar and fifty cents.
§37-6-26. Payment of rent and reinstatement after reentry.
Should the person entitled to such land at the time of reentry
made, or having a claim thereto, not pay or tender the rent and
all arrears thereof, with interest and all reasonable expenses
incurred about such reentry, within one year from the first day of
publication as aforesaid, he shall forever barred from all
right, in law or equity, to such lands. In case any party, having
such right, shall pay or tender such rent and arrears with
interest and expenses as aforesaid to the party making reentry,
within the time aforementioned therefor, he shall be reinstated in
his possession to hold as if the reentry had not been made.
§37-6-27. Defects in entry proceedings.
No person who, or those under whom he claims, shall have been
possessed of lands by virtue of a reentry, for the term of two
years, shall be disturbed therein by suit or otherwise for any
defect of proceedings in such reentry.
§37-6-28. Destruction of buildings; abatement of rent.
Where buildings or other structures upon leased premises, not
owned by the tenant or removable by him, are destroyed by fire or
otherwise, in whole or in part, without fault or negligence on the
part of the tenant, there shall be, unless the lease otherwise
provides, a reasonable reduction of the rent for such time as may
elapse until there be placed again upon the premises buildings, or
other structures, of as much value to the tenant for his purposes
as those destroyed, and unless the landlord shall rebuild or
replace such structures as soon as he can reasonably do so, the
tenant may, after the expiration of such reasonable time,
surrender the possession of the premises and be relieved of all
further liability for rent, after the time of such surrender.
§37-6-29. Land taken by eminent domain; termination or reduction of
Whenever the whole of any tract of land which is under lease is
taken under the power of eminent domain, the liability of any
tenant of such land to pay rent thereon shall terminate unless the
lease expressly provide otherwise. If any part of a tract of land
which is under lease, or any easement or other interest in such
land, is taken under the power of eminent domain, the rent of any
tenant of the land shall, unless the lease expressly provide
otherwise, be reduced in the proportion which the value of the
land or interest taken bears, at the time of such taking, to the
total value of the land upon which rent was payable, under the
lease. The foregoing provisions shall not affect nor impair any
right which a tenant of land may have to compensation from the
person exercising the right of eminent domain, for the value of
his lease, or other property upon the leased premises belonging to
him, or in which he may have an interest, if such value shall
exceed the amount of the rent from the payment of which he is
relieved by virtue of the provisions of this section.
§37-6-30. Landlord to deliver premises; duty to maintain premises
in fit and habitable condition.
With respect to residential property:
(a) A landlord shall:
(b) If a landlord's duty under the rental
agreement exceeds a duty imposed by this section, that portion of
the rental agreement imposing a greater duty shall control.
(1) At the commencement of a
tenancy, deliver the dwelling unit and surrounding premises in a
fit and habitable condition, and shall thereafter maintain the
leased property in such condition; and
(2) Maintain the leased property
in a condition that meets requirements of applicable health,
safety, fire and housing codes, unless the failure to meet those
requirements is the fault of the tenant, a member of his family
or other person on the premises with his consent; and
(3) In multiple housing units, keep
clean, safe and in repair all common areas of the premises
remaining under his control that are maintained for the use and
benefit of his tenants; and
(4) Make all repairs necessary to keep
the premises in a fit and habitable condition, unless said
repairs were necessitated primarily by a lack of reasonable care
by the tenant, a member of his family or other person on the
premises with his consent; and
(5) Maintain in good and safe working
order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating,
ventilating, air-conditioning and other facilities and
appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be
supplied by him by written or oral agreement or by law; and
(6) In multiple housing units, provide
and maintain appropriate conveniences for the removal of ashes,
garbage, rubbish and other waste incidental to the occupancy of
the dwelling unit; and
(7) With respect to dwelling units
supplied by direct public utility connections, supply running
water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times, and
reasonable heat between the first day of October and the last
day of April, except where the dwelling unit is so constructed
that running water, heat or hot water is generated by an
installation within the exclusive control of the tenant.
(c) None of the provisions of this
section shall be deemed to require the landlord to make repairs
when the tenant is in arrears in payment of rent.
(d) For the purposes of this section, the
term "multiple housing unit" shall mean a dwelling which
contains a room or group of rooms located within a building or
structure forming more than one habitable unit for occupants for
living, sleeping, eating and cooking.
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