MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown Police are investigating a case in which BCK Rentals landlord Tom Wiley allegedly removed a tenant’s cat from her apartment.
Chief Ed Preston said a landlord can’t enter a home and take a tenant’s private property.
Preston explained that the landlord could be charged with larceny in this instance.
Requests for comment from Wiley were unsuccessful. When The Dominion Post contacted Wiley on his cellphone, he hung up.
WVU student Sara O’Brien said she checked her call log and her email account the day her cat went missing and found no warning that the cat would be removed.
O’Brien involved police only after speaking with her landlord, who told her that her cat had been “taken care of.” She added that the landlord would not tell her where her cat was taken.
Sarah Wech, another tenant of BCK Rentals LLC, told The Dominion Post that an animal was removed from her home as well.
Wech said that her cat, Cali, was taken from the apartment without prior notice, and the tenant was still not made aware that the animal was removed after numerous calls, emails and text messages to the landlord.
After the tenant posted a reward for Cali’s return, the landlord contacted her, explaining that he took the animal to the pound. Wech said the cat was immediately euthanized.
Sheriff Al Kisner said the guilt or innocence of the landlord depends on the type of lease the tenant signed.
“If there’s a covenant in the lease that says they can go in and remove the animal,” Kisner said, “then yes, they can do that.”
Kisner said the landlord is still required to inform the tenant. If the landlord does not, he or she is in the wrong and responsible for whatever happens to the animal after it is removed.
The BCK Rentals lease agreement does include such a clause.
Chief Preston said the clause doesn’t matter. He said larceny is cut and dry.
“You cannot take someone’s personal property. If you have a TV, I can’t just go and take your TV because I don’t want you to have a TV…