Often tenants lease rental property after making only a quick inspection. When tenants take possession of the rental property, they may find conditions they had not observed on their first visit, such as broken steps, insects, faulty electrical systems, or generally shabby conditions.
A new tenant should carefully inspect the rental property before moving in. The tenant should document the inspection in writing or by taking photos or video that documents all existing damage or other conditions. Some landlords may even provide a new tenant with a checklist to perform this inspection. A copy of these findings can help to resolve future disputes concerning the conditions of the rental property. A sample checklist is available in Appendix B.
Under current West Virginia law, the landlord has a duty to deliver rental property in conditions that are fit and habitable. For more information on what conditions are covered by habitability law in West Virginia see the section on Warranty of Habitability. Enforcement of these responsibilities of the landlord may take a long time and be costly. It is very important that the tenant make a careful inspection of the premises before entering into a written or oral lease.