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W.Va. Attorney General Morrisey urges college students to beware of housing scams

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urges students to use caution when looking for off-campus housing accommodations during their collegiate years.

Many college students take the opportunity to live off campus for at least one year in an apartment, house or condo. 

“Living off campus for a while is usually part of the college experience and often the first taste a student has of living completely on their own,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “However, some people may try to take advantage of students who may be unaware of their rights as tenants. It’s important to know what you’re getting in terms of housing accommodations and guaranteed protections.”

Students should be on the lookout for fake rental or leasing advertisements that appear on Craigslist or other classified websites.

In some cases, phony landlords will ask for rent to be paid in advance with a promise to mail the key upon receipt. Some advertised housing accommodations may not even actually exist.

Students who rent should remember these key protections:

W. Va. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
  • Landlords are required to maintain rental housing in a fit and habitable condition from the time of move in until the time of move out, meaning all health, safety, fire and housing code standards are met at all times.
  • A 2011 law requires landlords to return damage deposits in full or send a written notice itemizing any alleged damages within sixty days after the tenant moves out.
  • Landlords, not tenants, are responsible for repairs necessary to ensure that rental housing remains in proper condition. However, landlords may require tenants to pay for any damages caused as a result of the renter’s own carelessness and neglect.
  • Landlords are prohibited from entering rental housing without either the consent of the tenant or providing reasonable notice in advance, unless circumstances require the landlord to perform emergency repairs.  
  • Landlords must provide tenants with proper written notification in advance of any attempt to evict them from a rental property, unless the tenant has failed to pay rent or has violated the terms of the rental agreement.
  • Landlords cannot forcibly evict a tenant without first going to court and the tenant has the right to contest any eviction suit.

The Attorney General’s Office issues this advice as part of the sixth annual Off to College Consumer Protection Week. To learn about consumer protection efforts in West Virginia, visit

Anyone with questions should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at

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