Senate Bill No. 97
(By Senators Love, Miller, Yoder and Schoonover)
[Introduced January 19, 1996; referred to the Committee
A BILL to amend and reenact section six, article six, chapter
thirty-seven of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine
hundred thirty-one, as amended; and to amend and reenact
section three, article three-a, chapter fifty-five of said
code, all relating generally to abandoned property in the
possession of a landlord and further to the ability of the
landlord to dispose of such property upon the tenant
abandoning the premises or upon being evicted from the
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section six, article six, chapter thirty-seven of the
code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that section three,
article three-a, chapter fifty-five of said code be amended and
reenacted, all to read as follows:
CHAPTER 37. REAL PROPERTY.
ARTICLE 6. LANDLORD AND TENANT.
§37-6-6. Desertion of premises; entry; recovery of rent.
If any tenant from whom rent is in arrear and unpaid shall
abandon the demised premises, and leave the same uncultivated or
unoccupied, without goods thereon subject to distress sufficient
to satisfy such rent, the lessor or his agent may post a notice
in writing in a conspicuous part of the premises, requiring the
tenant to pay such rent within one month. If the same be not
paid within that time, the lessor shall be entitled to possession
of the premises, and may enter thereon, and the right of such
tenant thereto shall thenceforth be at an end. But the landlord
may recover the rent up to the time when he became entitled to
the possession. The lessor or his agent may take, dispose of or
otherwise remove the tenant's personal property without incurring
any liability or responsibility to the tenant or any other person
whatsoever upon regaining possession of such premises.
CHAPTER 55. ACTIONS, SUITS AND ARBITRATION;
ARTICLE 3A. REMEDIES FOR WRONGFUL OCCUPATION OF RESIDENTIAL
§55-3A-3. Proceedings in court; final order.
(a) If at the time of the hearing there has been no
appearance, answer or other responsive pleading filed by the
tenant, the court shall make and enter an order granting
immediate possession of the property to the petitioner.
(b) In the case of a petition alleging arrearage in rent, if
the tenant shall file an answer raising the defense of breach by
the landlord of a material covenant upon which the duty to pay
rent depends, the court shall proceed to a hearing on such
(c) In the case of a petition alleging a breach by the
tenant or damage to the property, if the defendant shall file an
answer raising defenses to the claim or claims set forth in the
petition, the court shall proceed to a hearing on such issues.
(d) Continuances of the hearing provided for in this section
shall be for cause only and the judge or magistrate shall not
grant a continuance to either party as a matter of right. If a
continuance is granted upon request by a tenant, the tenant shall be required to pay into court any periodic rent becoming due
during the period of such continuance.
(e) At the conclusion of a hearing held under the provisions
of subsection (b) or (c) of this section if the court shall find
that the tenant is in wrongful occupation of the rental property,
the court shall make and enter an order granting immediate
possession of the property to the petitioner. In the case of a
proceeding under subsection (a) of this section, the court may
also make a written finding and include in its order such relief
on the issue of arrearage in the payment of rent as the evidence
may require. Any moneys paid into court by the tenant in
accordance with the provisions of this section may be ordered to
be disbursed to the parties as may be appropriate under the
findings of the court.
(f) Taking into consideration such factors as the nature of
the property (i.e., furnished or unfurnished) the possibility of
relative harm to the parties and other material facts deemed
relevant by the court in considering the time in which the tenant
might reasonably be expected to vacate the premises, the court
shall in its order specify the time by which the tenant must remove himself from the property. The order shall further
provide that if the tenant still wrongfully occupies the property
beyond such time the sheriff shall forthwith remove him, taking
such precautions as are necessary to guard against damage to the
property of the landlord and the tenant.
(g) Absent an issue of title, retaliation or breach of
warranty, and in the event of an appeal wherein the tenant
prevails, if the term of the lease has expired, the relief
ordered by the appellate court shall be for monetary damages only
and shall not restore the tenant to possession. During the
pendency of any such appeal no tenant shall be entitled to remain
in possession of the leasehold if the period of the tenancy has
(h) When an order is granted pursuant to this section that
grants possession of the property to the petitioner, and the
tenant fails to remove all personal property by the date and time
specified in an order pursuant to subsection (f) of this section,
the landlord may take, dispose of or otherwise remove such
personal property without incurring any liability or
responsibility to the tenant or any other person whatsoever.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to allow landlords to
remove abandoned personal property without incurring liability.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.