CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Not being able to pay bills is just one of the major issues during the coronavirus pandemic, and some landlords are threatening to evict their tenants. But now, it’s the landlords that are receiving threatening letters.
West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Thursday that his office has sent warning letters to landlords regarding alleged threats to evict during the pandemic.
Morrisey says, ” “people need to be sympathetic, and work with their tenants, and some of the tactics that we’re seeing out there are absolutely unacceptable, and we’ve sent letters to some of these individuals because were not going to let them deceive the tenants out there that they’re about to get tossed out.”
However, some landlords are raising concerns about Morrisey’s letter because they evict tenants for other reasons than non-payment.
“Sometimes we evict because people are tearing up the property, sometimes we evict because people are cooking drugs on the property, so there are other reasons to evict other than just non-payment especially with this Coronavirus going on,” says President of West Virginia Landlords Association Jennifer McQuerrey.
West Virginia has strict laws to protect tenant’s from unjust evictions. According to Chapter 37 in the West Virginia Code a tenant must be given a 3-month notice before they can be officially evicted from their home.
On the contrary, Chapter 55 in the West Virginia Code, states that if a tenant does not pay rent, damages the property, is selling drugs out of the property among other things, the landlord can go straight to the magistrate court and immediately file for an eviction.
The Attorney General says that he will not tolerate landlords making threats.
Morrisey says, “Before you start issuing threats make sure you understand the law, because the Attorney General is going to come down hard on people that are trying to use this public health crisis to their advantage.”
While landlords say, this goes both ways.
McQuerrey adds, “The way that landlords are seeing this is he just gave them the green light to not pay their rent for no reason even if they’re not getting paid, so we do expect rent even if they’re not getting paid, if they’re not, ya know we’re understanding, we’re all in this, every one of us.”
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline – 1-800-368-8808 – remains open to anyone wishing to report scams, price gouging or other manners by which bad actors may try to take advantage of consumers during the pandemic. Written complaints can also be filed at www.wvago.gov.