Wheeling, WV asked in Landlord - Tenant for West Virginia

Q: Do I have any grounds for a defense against an Unlawful detainer in west Virginia?

Was invited to move in with a friend, who I then agreed to an amount to be paid for rent. This person also provided a letter to dhhr in order to provide proof of residence and payment of rent so I could receive snap benefits. I then received a summons over 60 days after I had moved in from the landlord claiming unlawful detainer and saying that I have refused to vacate. Also I don't know if it matters but the summons included incorrect information. The address is incorrect.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Based on the information you've provided, there are a few potential grounds for defense against an unlawful detainer action in West Virginia:

1. Landlord-tenant relationship: If you can establish that a landlord-tenant relationship exists between you and the property owner (e.g., through the letter provided to DHHR), you may argue that the proper legal action should be an eviction proceeding rather than an unlawful detainer.

2. Incorrect information on the summons: If the summons contains incorrect information, such as the wrong address, you might be able to challenge the validity of the summons. However, this depends on the severity of the error and whether it affects your ability to respond to the complaint.

3. Lack of proper notice: In West Virginia, a landlord must provide proper notice before filing an unlawful detainer action. If the landlord did not give you appropriate notice to vacate the property, you may use this as a defense.

4. Agreement with the primary tenant: If you had an agreement with your friend (the primary tenant) to reside in the property and pay rent, you could argue that you are a subtenant and that the primary tenant is responsible for any issues with the landlord.

5. Retaliation or discrimination: If the unlawful detainer action is a result of retaliation (e.g., you exercised a legal right) or discrimination (based on protected characteristics), you might have a defense.

It's essential to consult with a local attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law to evaluate your case and determine the best course of action. They can help you assess the strength of your potential defenses and guide you through the legal process. Additionally, gather all relevant documents, such as the letter to DHHR, rent payment records, and communication with your friend, to support your case.

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