Residential Security Deposits
Are you aware of a landlord?s duties under West Virginia?s new law regarding residential security deposits?
Main Issue: When a security deposit must be returned, and what deductions can be withheld under WV Code ? 37-6A-1 et seq.
The Result ? Effective June 10, 2011: Landlords have 60 days from the termination of a tenancy or 45 days from a subsequent tenant?s occupation, whichever is shorter, to return the security deposit.
- A withheld security deposit may only be applied to the following charges and only if part of the tenant?s lease obligations: back rent, reasonable charges for late rent, damages to the property (other than reasonable wear and tear), unpaid utilities, and removal/storage of the tenant?s personal property.
What does this mean to you?
- Landlords must itemize each tenant?s deductions from their security deposit, maintain these records for one year after the tenancy ends, and permit tenants to inspect said records.
- Tenants do not have an automatic right to have the security deposit applied against the last month?s rent.
- If damages to the premises exceed the amount of the security deposit and require services of a third party contractor, the landlord must give written notice to the tenant, advising him or her of that fact, within the 60 or 45 day deposit return period. Proper notice allows the landlord an additional 15 day period to provide an itemization of the damages and the cost of repair.
- A non-withheld security deposit must be personally delivered to the tenant, mailed to the last known address, or mailed to a forwarding address. If these methods fail, the security deposit is to be held by the landlord for personal pick-up by the tenant.
- If the tenant has any assignee or sublessee, the landlord may hold a security deposit from only one party.
- A landlord may dispose of a tenant?s personal property in accordance with WV Code ?? 55-3a-3(h)(1)-(3).
- Failure to comply with these new provisions entitles the tenant to a judgment for the amount of the unreturned security deposit, as well as damages for inconvenience in the amount of 1.5 times the amount wrongfully withheld.
- These provisions cannot be waived in a rental agreement.
Steptoe & Johnson PLLC
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