A Guide to the Eviction Process in North Carolina
North Carolina landlords have a right to evict their tenants under certain circumstances. Most common circumstances include nonpayment of rent and violation of the lease agreement.
To successfully carry out an eviction, adherence to the law is fundamental. You must take specific steps to complete an eviction under the statewide landlord-tenant law.
The following is a basic overview of North Carolina’s eviction laws.
Legal Reason and Cause
The first step in any eviction process begins with a legal reason. The following are common reasons for evicting a tenant in the state of North Carolina.
- Nonpayment of rent by a tenant.
- Habitual late rent payment by the tenant.
- Violation of the lease agreement. For example, subletting the unit without permission or keeping an unauthorized pet.
- Engaging in illegal activities whilst at the rental premises.
- Causing damage that exceeds the limits of normal wear and tear.
These are all legitimate grounds to use to evict a tenant from your rental property.
To successfully evict a tenant in North Carolina, you must serve them with an appropriate eviction notice. The type of eviction notice to serve them depends on the reason for the termination.
Nonpayment of Rent
If you want to evict your tenant for nonpayment of rent, you must serve them a 10-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. The tenant can stop the eviction if they pay the due rent or move out on their own within 10 days.
However, according to North Carolina’s eviction laws, if they don’t, you can proceed to file eviction papers on the 11th day.
Once a lease term ends, both the landlord and the tenant have an option to renew the lease. Nothing requires you as a landlord, to renew the lease agreement. In such a case, the tenant must move out immediately once the lease expires.
Tenants who refuse to leave their premises after their lease expire are called holdover tenants. The eviction notice to serve such a tenant depends on the length of the lease term.
If the lease was week-to-week, you must serve them a 2-day notice. If the lease was month-to-month, you must serve them a 7-day notice. Finally, if the lease was year-to-year, you must serve them a one-month notice.
Once the lease has expired, you aren’t obligated to give the tenant any options. All you’re required to do is notify the tenant when their lease is due to expire and give them a deadline to vacate the premises. If the tenant doesn’t move out after the notice expires, you can proceed with their eviction.
It’s important to note that you must not accept any rent payment once the lease has expired. If you do, the tenant will be legally entitled to remain in the property and continue renting it under the existing terms and conditions.
You may also be able to evict a tenant for gross violation of the lease agreement. Housing an unauthorized pet, disturbing the neighbors, or damaging the rental property are all examples of common violations.
In North Carolina, landlords aren’t obligated to allow their tenants time to fix the violation before evicting them. Unlike other evictions, there are no minimum notice requirements. Unless the lease states otherwise, you can move to court immediately if the tenant commits the violation.
Of course, you may also be able to evict tenants who engage in criminal activity from your rental. You don’t have to give any notice to such tenants and can file eviction papers immediately.
Summons and Complaint
Once the notice period expires if the tenant hasn’t cured the violation or moved out, the next step is to expel the tenant. You must initiate the court proceedings by filing the eviction papers in a district court or a small claims court.
If you file it in a small claims court, then make sure the lawsuit doesn’t exceed $10,000. This amount may, however, differ depending on the county. If the amount you’re seeking exceeds the limit of the small claims court, you must do the filing in a district court.
A complaint is a legal document that tells the court the reasons for the eviction. In the complaint, you must list all the names of the tenants (defendants) whose names appear on the lease agreement.
A summons, on the other hand, is a legal document that notifies the tenant of the complaint. The tenant may choose to respond to the complaint or not.
The summons is usually served to the tenant personally by the sheriff. Once the tenant has received the papers, the tenant can choose to leave the premises immediately or decide to stay and fight their eviction by presenting a relevant defense during the hearing.
The following are common eviction defenses in the state of North Carolina:
- Landlord used “self-help” eviction procedures. In North Carolina, you cannot try to evict a tenant in any other way other than that prescribed in law. Any attempts to evict a tenant by any other means will constitute “Self-help” eviction. Examples of “self-help” eviction tactics include changing the locks and turning off utilities.
- The landlord failed to follow proper eviction procedures. As a landlord, you must utilize the court system for an eviction to be successful. A common blunder is failing to serve the right eviction papers.
- The landlord violated the Fair Housing Act.
- The landlord carried out a retaliatory eviction.
Writ of Restitution
This is the final notice for the tenant to leave. The court will issue it to you within 10 days after a successful ruling.
As a North Carolina landlord, there are many laws and regulations that you have to abide by when seeking to evict a tenant. These and other laws such as security deposit laws and landlord-tenant laws are subject to change. Nevertheless, it is your responsibility to stay informed.
If this seems daunting you can always hire the services of a qualified property management company like Ballo Realty Property Management to help!
Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. For expert help, kindly get in touch with a qualified attorney or hire an experienced property management company.
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