West Virginia Tenant Screening
Last Updated: February 9, 2015
West Virginia is located entirely within the Appalachian Region, and the state is almost entirely mountainous, giving reason to the nickname The Mountain State and the motto Montani Semper Liberi (“Mountaineers are always free”). The elevations and ruggedness drop near large rivers like the Ohio River or Shenandoah River. About 75% of the state is within the Cumberland Plateau and Allegheny Plateau regions.
How to Screen a Tenant in West Virginia
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Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, West Virginia has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the current West Virginia Housing Codes on the West Virginia State Legislature website. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
- Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in West Virginia
- Tenant And Landlord In West Virginia: Responsibilities Manual And Fact Sheets
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-Refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
- Non-Refundable Fees: The purpose of all nonrefundable fees or deposits (which are legal in West Virginia, unlike many states) must be stated in writing. Any fee or deposit not designated as nonrefundable is refundable. (W. Va. Code 37-6A-1)
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for West Virginia:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in West Virginia: WV Circuit Courts, WV Division Of Corrections, WV Sex Offender Registry.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Mc Dowell, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia, Monroe, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood, Wyoming.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: Barbour, Berkeley, Boone, Braxton, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Fayette, Gilmer, Grant, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, McDowell, Mercer, Mineral, Mingo, Monongalia, Monroe, Morgan, Nicholas, Ohio, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Roane, Summers, Taylor, Tucker, Tyler, Upshur, Wayne, Webster, Wetzel, Wirt, Wood, Wyoming.
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for West Virginia Landlords
- West Virginia State Bar Association Lawyer Referral
- West Virginia Courts Directory
- Law Enforcement Agencies in West Virginia (Wikipedia)