2.9 Withholding Rent

According to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, if a landlord has failed to maintain rental premises in a fit and habitable condition, he or she has violated the lease agreement’s implied warranty of habitability. Once the lease agreement has been violated, the tenant has the right to withhold further rent until such time as the landlord makes reasonable repairs to maintain the property in fit and habitable condition. Teller v. McCoy at 120.

The tenant also has the right to vacate the premises and effectively terminate his or her responsibility to pay further rent if the landlord has violated the implied warranty of habitability. Teller v. McCoy at 125-26. Breach of the implied warranty of habitability is a defense to an attempt to evict the tenant in court in West Virginia. Teller v. McCoy at 127. However, if the tenant does withhold rent until improvements are made, he or she may be required to repay all rent due at the point of repair by the landlord, pay such money into the court during a pending action by either the landlord or the tenant, and/or to repay all or any part of the amount due at the time when any court might order such. Teller v. McCoy at 129-30.

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