West Virginia Legal Aid offers help to those facing eviction threats

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 2:45 PM EDT
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While the coronavirus has seemingly brought the world to a standstill, life continues.

And for those who have recently lost their jobs, their monthly rent is a reminder that while many things are being cancelled, the bills will continue.

Luckily, there are free resource available to help: such as West Virginia Legal Aid.

"We do anything from giving people advice, to clinics, to direct representation in family law cases, domestic violence cases, cases with the DHHR for benefits, housing cases for both public and private landlords," said Tim Litten, a staff attorney for Legal Aid

For those living in public housing who cannot meet their rent payments, there is currently some protection put in place by the state.

"A 120-day moratorium that went into place March 26th that says if you live in public housing through HUD and you can' pay your rent, there's not going to be an eviction for 120 days," Litten said

While this suspension has bought people time to work out their payments, some landlords may try to threaten eviction without filing a court order – which is illegal in West Virginia.

"If a landlord is showing up, changing the locks on your door, taking your stuff and putting it on the side of the road, cutting off utilities," Litten said "You can contact law enforcement or contact Legal Aid of West Virginia and we can assist you in taking legal action,"

All eviction cases, including those filed before the state shutdown, have been suspended since they are not considered "emergency."

Ideally, Legal Aid suggests tenants take the next few weeks to attempt to work out a payment plan in order to avoid the courts all together.

"If a tenant is able to pay their delinquent rent, and any concurrent court cost and any interest or penalties, prior to their hearing, than their case should automatically be dismissed," Litten said "If the only ground for eviction is non-payment of rent,"

The tentative date for West Virginia courts to reopen is May 18th.

Legal Aid has a variety of coronavirus resources on