The West Virginia Rental Application Process
Information collected generally includes the applicant’s name, address, social security number, employment history, rental history, and other personal information necessary for landlords or property managers to conduct a background check and credit check. While this may seem intrusive, this information is essential because it allows a West Virginia landlord to determine who the best tenant is to enter into a rental lease agreement for the rental property.
Additionally, all rental application forms must adhere to the federal fair housing laws and West Virginia landlord-tenant laws to ensure that housing discrimination does not take place against applicants.
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How to Write a West Virginia Rental Application
A West Virginia rental application must acquire enough information about the applicant so that you can make an informed decision about whether they would be a good risk. The rental application form must include certain sections to capture information. The application should consist of:
- A section to collect the applicant's personal and contact information. Include the applicant's full legal name, date of birth, social security number, cell phone number, work phone number, email address, and emergency contact information.
- A section to collect the applicant's rental history, starting with the current rental housing address. Include the city, state, and zip code and how long they've lived in the rental, the amount of monthly rent paid, and the contact information for their current landlord. Then, include space to collect the applicant's previous rental history.
- A section to obtain the applicant's employment history, starting with their current employer. Start with the name of their employer, the address, the applicant's job title, how long the applicant has worked for the company, the applicant's supervisor’s name, and the phone number for their supervisor or human resources. Next, include additional space to capture previous work history.
- Ask the applicant to disclose each income source they receive, the type of income source (such as a paycheck), frequency of payments, and the amount of each. Then, request the applicant to disclose each checking and savings account that they keep in their name and the name of the bank or credit union that manages each account.
- Collect information about how many vehicles the applicant owns and a description of each vehicle. The description should include the year, make, model, color, and license plate number.
- Collect the name and age of each person who will live with the applicant at the rental property.
- Ask the applicant if they own any pets, the number of pets, the type, and their size.
- A section for the authorization that allows you to conduct a background check and credit check. You are only permitted to perform these checks if the applicant signs the rental application. This section is ideal for reminding the applicant that the fee paid is non-refundable.
- A line for a signature and a space for the date.
Rental Application Resources for Tenants in West Virginia
West Virginia renters are involved in a legally binding contract known as a rental agreement. Many renters feel as if they have few rights. West Virginia landlord-tenant law does provide renters with valuable rights. Here are some links that can help you better understand your rights:
- The Attorney General's Office offers a Renters' Rights PDF for free. It explains your rights as a renter, information about security deposits, and more.
Legal Aid of West Virginia explains how you can appeal an eviction case to the circuit court, what you can do if your rental property has bed bugs, what you can do if you're involved in an eviction from section 8, how to get your security deposit back, and more. They also provide legal representation for qualified individuals.
- West Virginia Senior Legal Aid, Inc., explains when you may withhold rent from your landlord.
- The West Virginia Lawyer Referral Service explains landlord-tenant law and provides a 30-minute consultation for $25 or less.
West Virginia Rental Application Laws
West Virginia law does not limit the amount that a landlord may charge for a security deposit on a residential lease for real estate. However, applicants are encouraged to check with their local city and county laws for any security deposit limits in their area. When moving out, a landlord has between 45 and 60 days to return the security deposit. This figure is dependent on whether or not a new tenant has moved into the vacant unit (West Virginia Code § § 37-6A-1 et seq).