1.5 Mobile Home Lot Rentals

If the lease is for the rental of a lot site, where the land is rented and a mobile home owned by the tenant is placed on the rented property, the lease must be in writing. The landlord must give the tenant a copy of the signed, written lease and of the relevant Article of the West Virginia Code within seven days of the tenant signing the rental agreement. W.Va. Code §37-15-3(a).

The basic agreement in a mobile home lot lease is that the landlord agrees to allow the tenant to live on and use the property and the tenant agrees to pay the landlord a certain amount of money for the exclusive use of that property. A mobile home lot lease normally contains the following information:

Length of the lease, for instance, one year or month-to-month

Rent amount and payment terms

Amount of security deposit (not to be used as rent, unless both the landlord and tenant agree)

Lease renewal terms

Notice requirements for terminating a lease

Name of landlord and tenant(s)

Exterior and/or interior maintenance responsibilities

Person responsible for paying the utility bills

Next page

1.4 Leases

The contract between the landlord and tenant is called a lease. Any contract for the lease of land lasting longer than one year must be in writing to be valid. W.Va. Code §36-1-3. An oral contract can be valid and binding for a lease lasting less than one year. A written lease that sets out all the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant can minimize several problems such as vagueness of lease terms and the difficulty of proving those terms should a disagreement arise.

Before signing a lease, a tenant should read the lease carefully and understand what it says. It is a good practice to have someone who understands leases to read it over as well. This could be an attorney or someone knowledgeable about leases and lease terms. This is particularly important if the tenant does not understand any of the requirements in the lease.

Once the landlord and tenant sign the lease, they are legally liable for the responsibilities set out in the lease unless the terms of the lease are in violation of state laws. Therefore, it is important that both the landlord and the tenant understand what the lease says or does not say, particularly about the following items:

1. Security deposits

2. Pets

3. Penalties for late rents

4. Conditions surrounding subletting

5. The lease duration, meaning when the lease will become effective and when the lease will terminate

6. Which party will be responsible for making improvements to the property, if any will be made, and which party is responsible for which repairs. See the section on Responsibility for Repairs for more information.

7. Who will be responsible for making and paying for reasonable modifications for tenants with disabilities, and what modifications will be necessary to accommodate the tenant’s disability. See Appendix E for more information on Fair Housing Law and reasonable modifications.

8. Conditions on which the lease may be terminated before the natural end of the lease terms.

9. When, and under what conditions, landlords, or their employees, are permitted to enter the rental unit.

10. How to renew the lease beyond the initial rental period.

Next page

1.3 Basic Facts about Fair Housing Rights: Federal and State

The Federal Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap (disability), familial status (presence of children 18 years and younger, pregnant women, or persons anticipating an adoption), and national origin. 42 U.S.C. §3604.

 

The West Virginia Fair Housing Act includes the seven protected classes in the federal Fair Housing Act and also forbids housing discrimination based on blindness and ancestry. W.Va. Code §5-11A-5.

The federal and state Fair Housing Acts cover private housing, housing that receives federal financial assistance, and state and local government housing with certain exceptions. W.Va. Code §5-11A-4.

The goal of the Fair Housing Acts is to provide protection against discrimination. These civil rights laws are designed to protect applicants so that all qualified applicants are equally invited to apply for rental housing and all qualified applicants are screened fairly.

Under the West Virginia Fair Housing Act W.Va. Code §5-11A-5(a)-(e), it is illegal to take the following actions against an applicant on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap (disability), familial status, national origin, blindness, or ancestry:

Refusing to sell or rent a dwelling after the making of a bona fide offer, to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of a dwelling, or to otherwise make the dwelling unavailable or deny the person the right to purchase or rent the property

Discriminating against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental

Making, printing, or publishing any notice, statement, or advertisement that indicates preference, limitation, or discrimination in the sale or rental of a dwelling

Making a dwelling unavailable for inspection, sale, or rental when the dwelling is in fact available

Attempting for profit, to induce or attempt to induce any person to sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the entry or possible entry into the neighborhood a person or persons of a particular race, color, religion, sex, blindness, handicap, familial status, ancestry, or national origin

According to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, it is unlawful for a landlord to discriminate against an individual based on his or her association with a person or persons of a protected class. West Virginia Human Rights Commission v. Wilson Estates, Inc., 503 S.E. 2d 6 (W. Va., 1998).

It is also unlawful to discriminate based on a disability of the renter, a person residing in, or intending to reside in, that dwelling, or any person associated with that person. W.Va. Code §5-11A-5(f)(1)-(2). In terms of the rental of property, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of a person’s major life activities, a record of having such impairment, or being regarded as having such impairment, but does not include current illegal use of, or addiction to, a controlled substance. W.Va. Code §5-11A-3(g)(1)-(3).

The Fair Housing Acts also require owners of housing facilities to make reasonable accommodations in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. The Acts require landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space. W.Va. Code §5-11A-5(f)(3)(A)-(B). In most cases, the landlord is not required to pay for the changes in private living spaces. W.Va. Code §5-11A-5(f)(3)(A).

Landlords may be responsible for making changes to private living spaces and to common-use areas such as mail and laundry facilities, under the Fair Housing Acts, in buildings constructed after March 13, 1991. W.Va. Code §5-11A-5(f)(3)(C). In addition, if the general public has access to places, such as a rental office or meeting room, it is possible the landlord may be required to make changes to these spaces under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 42 U.S.C. §§12812, 12813.

The information in this section is not a complete list of fair housing rights and responsibilities for tenants or landlords. Fair Housing is both complex and comprehensive. For more information about the Fair Housing Acts, see Appendix E.

Next page

1.2 Reasons a landlord might turn down an applicant

Among the reasons a landlord might legally turn down an applicant are:

The landlord cannot verify the applicant’s rental history, after making a good faith effort.

The landlord cannot verify independently the amount and stability of tenant’s income. (For example: through pay stubs, employer/source contact, or tax records. If self-employed: business license, tax records, bank records, or a list of client references.) For Section 8 applicants, the amount of assistance will be considered part of tenant’s monthly income for purposes of figuring the proportion.

The applicant has misrepresented any information on the application. If misrepresentations are found after a rental agreement is signed, the tenant’s rental agreement could be terminated.

The applicant has a criminal record.

The applicant had a court ordered eviction, or had any judgment for financial delinquency.

Previous landlords report complaints of non-compliant activity such as repeated disturbance of the neighbors’ peace, reports of prostitution, drug dealing, or drug manufacturing, damage to the property beyond normal wear, reports of violence or threats to landlords or neighbors, allowing persons not on the lease to reside on the premises, or failure to give proper notice when vacating the property.

The above list is only a portion of the reasons a landlord may legally decline a person’s application to rent. If the applicant feels any reference given by a previous landlord was unfair, the applicant can request an opportunity to explain the situation and give alternate references.

A landlord can generally refuse to rent for any reason unless it is a discriminatory reason that violates civil rights laws such as Fair Housing.

Next page

1.1 Rental Application

A landlord, the person whose property is being rented, will generally ask questions to determine if an applicant would be a good tenant. (See Appendix A for a sample rental application.) The application will provide information to help the landlord collect rental money or money owed for property damage if the tenant fails to uphold the lease terms.

Typical questions a landlord might ask to determine whether to accept the tenant’s application include:

Full name, including middle

Date of birth

Driver’s license/legally accepted ID card (number and state)

Social security number (Landlord may request it to run a credit check.)

Name, date of birth and relationship of all people who are going to occupy the premises

Name, address, and phone number of tenant’s past landlords

Income/employment history including income/salary, contact/supervisor’s name, phone number and address. If the tenant is self-employed, the landlord could ask for a copy of business license, tax returns, bank records, or client references.

Additional income – it is only necessary to list income that the applicant wants included for qualification

Credit and loan references including automobile payments, department store and other credit cards, and other loans

Bank references including bank name and account number

Contact information of a relative to call in case of emergency

Information about pets and deposit rules

Other information required for the application

Next page

About this publication

January, 2013

About This Publication

Residential tenants and landlords have legal rights and responsibilities under West Virginia law. A tenant has the right to fully use and occupy the rented property as a home. Landlords have the right to expect tenants to fulfill their responsibilities under the lease such as paying the rent on time and maintaining the property according to requirements in the lease. This publication will describe both tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities. In addition, it will provide resources to assist you in finding more information on tenant and landlord laws in West Virginia, a checklist to use before moving in, and information on the Fair Housing Act and how it impacts tenants and landlords. This publication was developed in partnership with individuals representing legal entities, consumer and housing organizations, and other stakeholders. Questions regarding this publication or its contents should be directed to the Housing Advocate at the Northern West Virginia Center for Independent Living at (304) 296-6091.

This publication is a project of:

Northern West Virginia Center for Independent Living (NWVCIL)

Community Living Initiatives Corporation (CLIC)

West Virginia Assistive Technology Systems (WVATS), Center for Excellence in Disabilities, WVU

West Virginia Senior Legal Aid (WVSLA)

Funding provided by:

City of Morgantown, Community Development Block Grant

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fair Housing Initiatives Program

West Virginia Developmental Disabilities Council

West Virginia Olmstead Council

West Virginia Advocates

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer Statement

The work that provided the basis for this activity was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The authors and publishers are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

This publication offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However, we do not provide legal advice on how the law applies to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.

Next page

 

Financial Powers of Attorney in WV

Financial powers of attorney can be inexpensive, flexible tools for authorizing someone else to manage your money and property, but they can also be abused by financial exploiters. In 2012 the Uniform Power of Attorney Act became effective in WV. This brochure describes how powers of attorney work under the new law. It is a .pdf file that prints on one sheet of legal size paper, front and back.

POA brochure.pdf

Legal Issue Spotting

Legal Issue Spotting

If you work in aging services you are in a great position to help screen seniors for referral to legal services!

  • Your seniors know and trust you
  • You have a broad understanding of how legal and related problems impact your seniors
  • You can see objectively what your seniors may be in denial about
  • You know how to help your seniors effectively connect with helping resources
  • Your holistic viewpoint allows you to see the big picture and how legal problems are part of larger complex problems

Skills and knowledge that will help you successfully spot legal issues for effective referral:

  • Learn to identify underlying legal issues
  • Learn to distinguish between different types of legal issues, different areas of law
  • Learn to distinguish between legal information and legal advice
  • Learn to distinguish between client’s perception of urgency and actual legal urgency (ie. time limits, procedural deadlines)

A few things you can do to help your senior clients get legal assistance more efficiently and effectively:

  • Help client locate, gather, and organize relevant documents
  • Help clients get contact information for adverse parties (name, address, phone number of the person/entity on the other side)
  • Be careful to identify who is the client, and avoid referring third parties to legal assistance (ie. adult child of senior)
  • Help client follow through on the obvious potential solutions (ie. ask for appeal before time is up, follow instructions to dispute a bill)
  • Identify particular barriers to client’s access to legal services (ie. hearing deficit may require assistance to communicate by phone)
  • Don’t cry wolf, but do intervene with legal services on behalf of client in legal emergency
  • Help client understand what to reasonably expect from legal assistance (ie. how our process works, our limitations and priorities)
  • Share legal information, don’t give legal advice
Thank you for helping seniors in legal need get connected with legal services!

WVSLA Brochure

Please feel free to download, print, and distribute this brochure about the services WVSLA offers WV seniors. It is in color and designed to be printed on 11×14 paper. We can also mail you copies of this brochure, just contact us with your request.

brochure2012.pdf

Mental Capacity Standards in West Virginia: A Handbook on Legal Decisionmaking Authority

The idea for this booklet came from Millie Karlin then of the West Virginia Alzheimers Association. Millie found a disturbing pattern repeating itself through several of her cases: Families and healthcare facility personnel were turning to the wrong decisionmakers at critical points in the care of dementia patients. Sometimes the discharge decisions of patients with advanced dementia were relied upon instead of consulting with a representative decisionmaker who had the proper authority to make those decisions. And sometimes the opposite was occurring, where personal decisions that were well within the patient’s capacity were ignored in favor of a person who merely had financial power of attorney. Clearly there was confusion about the roles, scopes, and limits of decisionmaking devices in West Virginia.

A small group worked together to create this handbook explaining the legal decisionmaking devices in West Virginia, including how they are created, what are the related mental capacity standards, how and when they terminate.  The devices described include medical and financial powers of attorney, living will, healthcare surrogate, guardianship, and conservatorship.

Mental_Capacity_Standards_in_WV.pdf

FY2008 Annual Report

We not only provide legal information, advice, and advocacy for seniors, but we do vital outreach and preventive legal workshops to help seniors know when it’s time to call our hotline for help. In addition to providing 1,184 hours of legal services to 725 individual seniors in FY08 we also published the 10th Edition of our purple book of legal questions answered for seniors, both in paper and on our website www.seniorlegalaid.org, and published timely aging and law news on our blawg at www.seniorlegalaid.blogspot.com.

WVSLA_annual_report_2008.pdf

FY2006 Annual Report

What good is a legal right if you don’t know about it? For many senior West Virginians legal mythology can lead to a choice that is financially or personally devastating. Still more seniors could be protected by exercising legal rights that they don’t even know they have. This is why our senior legal hotline makes sense for West Virginia. We not only provide legal information, advice, and advocacy for seniors, but we do vital outreach and preventive legal workshops to help seniors know when it’s time to call our hotline for help. This year we delivered 1990 hours of high-quality legal services to 893 needy seniors across all 55 counties of West Virginia…

WVSLA_annual_report_2006.pdf

FY2005 Annual Report

Every senior citizen deserves a decent place to live, access to quality healthcare, and income adequate to preserve his or her dignity and autonomy. In a society built on a legal framework, lawyers are necessary to ensure these rights for seniors. Providing these essential services is our mission, and we are proud of how we fulfilled that mission in FY05. We delivered 2065 hours of high-quality legal services to 760 needy seniors across all 55 counties of West Virginia.

WVSLA_annual_report_2005.pdf

Dying Without A Will in WV

Who inherits from you if you die without a will?  If you die intestate, West Virginia statutory law ensures that your estate passes to your spouse and/or other relatives. The law determines who the recipients of your property are, and the amount the recipients receive depends on whether you are survived by a spouse, and if you have a spouse, the relation of any children you may have to your spouse. Download this pamphlet in .pdf format, designed to be printed on both sides of a legal size piece of paper.

Intestate_Succession_Pamphlet_4.pdf

A-133 Appendix A: Data Collection form SF-SAC

The Federal Audit Clearinghouse operates on behalf of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and its primary purposes are:

  1. To disseminate audit information to Federal agencies and the public.
  2. To support OMB oversight and assessment of Federal award audit requirements.
  3. To assist Federal cognizant and oversight agencies in obtaining OMB Circular A-133 data and reporting packages.
  4. To help auditors and auditees minimize the reporting burden of complying with Circular A-133 audit requirements.
According to OMB A-122 non-government entities that expend at least $500,000 in a fiscal year are required to complete the SF-SAC online which can be found here:

 

Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars

The Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issues directives that apply to all federal agencies about administration, cost principles and accounting, and auditing requirements. These directives also apply to the grantees and subgrantees of federal agencies, including state units on aging, area agencies on aging, and subgranted senior service providers.

Here is page that links each OMB Circular http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_default