Tenant eviction is part of any landlord’s career, but you need to know the North Carolina law to do it properly. You may need to remove your North Carolina tenant for reasons such as failure to paying rent, illegal activities, or gross violation of the terms of the lease or rental agreement.
Regardless of the reason, though, you have a responsibility as a landlord to ensure the process adheres to the law in North Carolina. That’s because there are rules and regulations that you must follow to have a valid lawsuit.
1. Eviction Notice
Each possible ground for an eviction case has its own rules for how the process must begin. Every one of these grounds has a different policy regarding eviction notices. A landlord can only remove tenants when they've done these things.
- Nonpayment of Rent. According to North Carolina landlord-tenant law, rent becomes late the day after it’s due. If landlords provide a grace period for late rent payments to their tenant, make sure to have the time allowed to pay rent in writing in their lease agreement. Late fees, however, may only be assessed 5 days after the rent has become due.
After the rent becomes due, a landlord must give your tenant a 10-day grace period before commencing any eviction procedure. If the tenant doesn’t pay within this period and remains on the rental property, you, the landlord, can proceed to file an eviction lawsuit in small claims court. The tenant must pay the rent owed or face an eviction case.
- Lease Violations. Tenants have the responsibility of upholding the terms of their lease agreement. For example, adhere to the pet policy, not exceed the rental limit, and care for the unit. If they perform lease violation, landlords have a right to have them removed from the rental property.
Unlike some other states, in North Carolina, landlords aren’t required to give their tenant a notice prior to filing eviction actions for a lease agreement violation.
For tenants that commit illegal activity, a landlord can move to small claims court directly without giving them prior and proper notice.
- Holdover Tenants. A landlord can also evict a tenant in North Carolina who “holds over” or stays beyond their lease term. The type of notice to serve a holdover tenant depends on the type of tenancy and lease term.
For weekly tenants, a landlord must serve them a 2-Day Notice to Quit. For monthly tenants, landlords must serve them a 7-Day Notice to Quit. And for tenants on an annual rental or lease agreement, you must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
If the notice period ends without the tenant moving out, you, the landlord, can proceed with the eviction process.
- Illegal Activity. As per eviction laws, illegal activity is considered to be illegal use, possession, or distribution of a controlled substance, or criminal activity that impacts the habitability or peaceful enjoyment of other tenants.
A landlord isn’t required to give tenants who are involved in illegal activity any written notice when looking to evict tenants from the rental unit. You can begin the eviction action immediately by filing a lawsuit in a small claims or district court.
2. Summons and Complaints
After the period expires and the tenant is still occupying your property, a landlord can move to court and file a complaint. According to North Carolina landlord-tenant laws, you must do this in an appropriate court such as a small claims court. Expect to pay about $96 as a filing fee.
Only the sheriff of the county where your rental property is located can serve the summons and complaint. They must do so in either of the following ways.
- Deliver the summons and complaint in person
- Leave a copy with someone of suitable age
- Post a copy of the eviction notice in a conspicuous place on the premises
The summons and complaint must be served on the tenant within 5 days once the court has issued the complaint. If a landlord fails to do this, the eviction process in North Carolina cannot continue. Court costs will vary.
3. Court Hearing and Judgment
If a landlord files for the eviction hearing in a small claims court, the court hearing could happen as soon as 7 days after the issuance of the summons. In a District Court, however, the earliest the hearing can be held is within 30 days of the date the complaint is served on the tenant.
In a District Court, the tenant will have 20 days to file an answer. In their answer, the tenant could allege any of the following.
- The eviction process wasn’t proper. Forcefully or illegally removing the tenant without a sheriff and a court order will cause the process to fail.
- The landlord tried to ‘self-evict’ the tenant. It’s illegal for North Carolina landlords to evict their tenants on their own through self-help means. Examples include turning off essential services and utilities, locking out a tenant, or removing their personal belongings.
- The eviction was a result of discrimination against the tenant. An eviction that is based on discriminatory reasons is bound to fail. Protected classes include race, color, religion, familial status, disability, and sex.
- The unit isn’t habitable. Landlords have a responsibility to ensure the tenant-rented property is up to code in regard to the state’s safety and health codes. So, if you, the landlord, don’t make necessary repairs after being notified, your tenant may have a right to exercise some rights.
- The eviction is based on retaliatory reasons. This is trying to evict a tenant to get back at them for some activity that falls outside the written lease agreement or legal purview.
However, if the tenant fails to appear during the hearing, the court may issue a default judgment in your favor. Either way, do not assume you, as the landlord, can evict your tenant, use their security deposit, or anything else until the court issues its judgment.
But whether it’s through an eviction judgment by default or at the eviction hearing, you’ll be issued with a writ of possession if the judge rules in your favor.
4. Writ of Possession
This is the tenant’s final notice to leave. The legal document gives the approximate time within which time the sheriff will carry out the North Carolina eviction process.
The notice period allows a tenant the opportunity to remove their personal belongings before being forcefully removed from the unit.
Normally, after a successful judgment, the writ of possession will be issued 10 days afterward. Tenants have a right to file an appeal.
Do you still have a specific question in mind? If you do, KRS Property Management can help. We are a top Raleigh company for all your rental management needs. We have over 25 years of experience in the game!
Disclaimer: This blog isn’t a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. Also, laws change frequently, and this post may not be updated at the time you read it. Please get in touch with us for any questions regarding this content or any other aspect of rental management.