If you own a rental property, then at some time in the future, you are going to have to evict a tenant. It is never a pleasant process, but it cannot always be avoided. There is one thing that can help make the process a little less painful – knowing how the North Carolina eviction laws work.
A tenant eviction goes much smoother if you know both your rights as a landlord and the legal rights of your tenant. Not only will it save you much time and hassle, but it could very well save you from a tenant instigated legal battle.
This article will break down the North Carolina eviction laws step-by-step and provide you with the timeline and forms you need to submit.
Reasons to Evict a Tenant
A lease is a legally binding agreement that grants the tenant rights to use your property for a period of time. The lease agreement should clearly define reasons for an early termination of the rental contract and an eviction. Here are four reasons you can evict a tenant in North Carolina:
- Non-Payment of Rent
- Holdover Tenant – A tenant who remains in the rental after the termination of the lease without the landlord’s consent.
- Tenant Breach – A tenant who does not fulfill the terms of the lease (i.e. maintaining the lawn, damage to the rental, subletting without written permission etc.)
- Criminal Activity – Including drug trafficking.
How to Evict a Tenant for Nonpayment of Rent in North Carolina
North Carolina eviction laws stipulate that there is a 5 day grace period after the rental due date. Before starting the eviction process, the landlord must give the tenant a “10-Day Demand for Rent.” This notice demands payment. If the tenant does not pay the rent within the 10 days, the landlord can file for eviction.
How to Evict a Tenant that Will Not Move Out in North Carolina
The lease has expired. The tenant will not sign a new lease but they will not move-out either or for other reasons, the landlord does not want to renew the lease. The action the landlord can take depends on the term of the lease:
- Week-to-week Lease: 2 Days written notice.
- Month-to-month lease: 7 Days written notice.
- Year-to-year or longer lease: 1 Month written notice.
The notice should be given before the lease terminates. If the tenant does not move out by the date specified in the notice, the landlord can file for eviction. If you want the tenant to move out, do not accept any rent payments after the expiration of the lease. If you do, this could create a new tenancy.
How to File for Eviction in North Carolina
North Carolina eviction laws do not allow a landlord to physically evict a tenant. They must go through the court system. If the tenant does not bring the lease current by the end of the 10th day, the landlord will then go to their county’s small claims court and file a “Summary Ejectment.” The form is available at the court house. A filing fee must be paid. Once the case is filed and the fee paid, the court will issue a Summons.
The court will give the Summons and a copy of the Complaint to the County Sherriff. They will deliver it to the tenant. Once the Summons is issued, the tenant will be required to appear on a date no more than 7 days from the issuance of the Summons.
If you want an eviction, you must also be at the hearing. After hearing both sides of the story, the Magistrate will make a decision. If the judge rules in favor of you, the landlord, you will receive a “Judgment for Possession” and/or a “Money Judgment.”
The tenant has 10 days to appeal. If the tenant decides to appeal, notice must be given to the landlord. Appeals are heard in the District Court. If the tenant does not appeal or loses the appeal, they must vacate within 10 days.
If the tenant is not out by the end of 10 days, the landlord must ask the Clerk of the Court for a “Writ of Possession.” The Sheriff will execute the Writ of Possession within 5 days of receipt. Within 7 days of the execution of the Writ, the sheriff will padlock the property. The tenant has 7 more days to remove all personal property or it becomes the property of the landlord.
Summary of the North Carolina Eviction Laws
If the North Carolina eviction laws are followed to the letter and all forms are processed on the same day, here is how the process plays out:
- Jan 1st – Rent is due.
- 6th – End of Grace period.
- 7th – 10-Day Demand for Rent is hand delivered.
- 18th – Summary Ejectment filed at the County Courthouse
- 19th – Summons is issued.
- 26th – Court Date, Judgment for Possession is issued
- Feb 5th – Eviction Date
- 6th – Writ of Possession filed and delivered to Sheriff
- 13th – Sheriff padlocks property
- 20th – Landlord takes possession of property and any tenant possessions left on the premises.
Eviction can be a lengthy process, but without the backing of the legal system, a landlord would also be in violation of the law if they take matters into their own hands. In our next week’s article, we will discuss some “creative” ways to evict a tenant without violating any laws.
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