Landlords maintain a sense of responsibility when renting out a property. From unexpected breakdowns to sudden storm damage, it's up to them to provide the proper amount of protection. However, when it comes to tenants committing crimes, determining liability may prove challenging. Here’s a closer look at the most common questions about West Virginia’s criminal law and how it might relate to your rental agreement. 

4 FAQ About Criminal Law & Rental Properties

What are my responsibilities when it comes to tenant safety and security? 

West Virginia requires landlords to provide their tenants with a quality living environment, including performing the necessary repairs and keeping up with routine maintenance. As far as instances involving criminal activity, their liability depends on the circumstances surrounding the situation.

Am I responsible for injuries that occur from third party criminal activity?  

criminal law

If it’s found that a third party is using the property to sell drugs, then it’s up to the landlord to ensure that they clear the area. An easy way to confirm your suspicions is to install a set of security cameras. 

Once they’re on video, alert the local authorities and let them handle the rest. This will reduce the risk of a fight breaking out and keep your tenants from getting caught up in the middle. 

What about crimes that tenants commit on the property? 

Landlords who are unaware of the criminal activity will not be held responsible. If you suspect illegal activity, keep an eye on the property and monitor the frequency of visitors. Respond to complaints from the neighbors and consult with the authorities to ensure that the proper precautions are in place.  

How can I limit my liability as a landlord and reduce the risk of crime? 

If this is something that concerns you, include a clause that prohibits drug dealing, prostitution and other forms of illegal activity. This will give the landlord the right to evict the tenants if they’re ever found to be breaking the agreement. You should also carefully screen each applicant before agreeing to let them stay on the property. Perform in-depth background checks and see if anything questionable turns up.


Protect yourself by consulting with an attorney from Kratovil Law Offices PLLC. With more than 40 years of experience, this local law office is well-versed in the intricacies of criminal law and works with clients throughout the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. They understand the concerns that come with renting out a property and will provide the insight you require to finalize the agreement. Call (304) 728-7718 to schedule an appointment or visit their website for additional information on criminal law.