2.6 Warranty of Habitability – The Right to Decent Housing

In West Virginia, tenants have a right to live in decent housing, and landlords are obligated to maintain rental premises in a fit and habitable condition for the duration of the lease agreement as long as they are receiving rent payments from the tenant and the tenant has not caused the deterioration of the premises through negligence or carelessness. W.Va. Code §37-6-30. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has ruled that even if there is no written lease, there is an “implied warranty of habitability”; meaning that where there is no written lease but where the law recognizes a landlord-tenant relationship, the landlord is responsible for maintaining the premises in a fit and habitable condition. Teller v. McCoy, 253 S.E. 2d 114 (W. Va., 1978).

Under W.Va. Code §37-6-30, a landlord is responsible for:

1. Delivering the premises in a fit and habitable condition and thereafter maintaining such condition

2. Maintaining the leased property in a condition that meets all applicable health, safety, fire, and building codes, as long as the failure to meet such codes is not the fault of the tenant or others on the premises with permission of the tenant

3. Keeping clean, safe, and in repair all common areas that are maintained for the use and benefit of the tenants in multiple housing units

4. Making all repairs necessary to maintain the premises in a fit and habitable condition, unless such repairs were made necessary primarily by a lack of due care by the tenant or others on the premises with the permission of the tenant

5. Maintaining in good and safe working condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him or her by written or oral agreement or by law

6. Providing and maintaining appropriate conveniences for the removal of ashes, garbage, rubbish and other wastes incidental to occupation of the dwelling in multiple housing units

7. Supplying 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 unit is constructed so that running water, heat, and hot water are provided by an installation in exclusive control of the tenant in units supplied by direct public utility connections

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