Eviction Process in NC

Are you wondering: How can a landlord evict a tenant?

If you're a North Carolina landlord, tenant eviction from your rental property is something that you'll likely have to go through at some point in your career, particularly whena tenant fails to pay rent. While it can be long and complicated, an eviction is sometimes the only option a landlord may have left.

The state of North Carolina has a straightforward process. As a rental property landlord in North Carolina, it's your responsibility to ensure you strictly follow the eviction law. If landlords fail to do so, not only will the eviction delay, but they may also find themselves battling a lawsuit.

So, in this post, we'll take landlords through everything they need to know about the Eviction Process in North Carolina.

Common Reasons Landlords Evict Tenants in North Carolina

According to the North Carolina landlord-tenant law, landlords may be able to remove a tenant from their rental property for a lease violation.

The tenant violations include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Negligent property damage
  • Refusal to leave the premises
  • Committing an illegal act within the premises, like manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs
  • Repeatedly disturbing the neighbors
  • Keeping a pet when the lease is against it

In carrying out the eviction process, however, a North Carolina landlord must make sure to follow the law. Regardless of the violation of the lease agreement committed, the landlord must never lock the tenant out, remove their personal property, turn off utilities, or harass them. These acts are "self-help" eviction methods, and they are illegal.

The North Carolina eviction process is contained in Chapter 42 of the state's General Statutes.

how to evict a tenant in nc

What are the Steps to Evict a Tenant in North Carolina?

Let's look at the North Carolina eviction laws and process.

1. Eviction Notices

According to North Carolina law, a tenant eviction process begins with an eviction notice. The type of notice a landlord serves a tenant must be relevant to the violation of the lease agreement committed, such as overdue rent payments. Not paying rent and past due rent are popular violations of the written lease agreement that results in eviction.

For tenants who refuse to pay rent, a landlord must serve them a 10-Day Demand for Rent Notice. This written notice simply tells the tenant that they have two options: to pay all due rent or to move out. If the tenant fails to choose either option within 10 days, as the landlord, you may move to court to seek further help.

For holdover tenants, the eviction notice to serve them depends on the lease term on their rental or lease agreement. If the lease is weekly, then you must serve them a 2 days' notice. If it's monthly, then the notice to serve is a 7-days' notice. And, if the lease is yearly, you must serve them a one-month notice.

These notices are "unconditional notices to quit." In other words, your tenant won't have any other option than to leave the premises. Again, if tenants don't move out within the specified days, then you can move to court for further action.

where do you go to file a notice of eviction

2. Summary Ejectment

What is a summary ejectment? The goal of it is to get all rent owed from the tenant and, ultimately, the possession of your property.

If you have served the tenant an eviction notice and they've refused to follow its directions, the next legal step is to file a Summary Ejectment at the clerk's office. It costs $96. If a landlord fails to provide the proper notice, however, they cannot file the paperwork.

It also goes without saying that the eviction filing must be done in a relevant court, such as a small claims court or a district court. For a quick process, consider choosing the small claims court. That said, the most a landlord can sue for in a small claims court is $10,000. If you're suing for more, then a district court would serve you better.

3. Summons

Once a landlord has filed the Summary Ejectment and paid the court and filing fee, a court will issue a Summons. Your tenant will be served, too. This will begin the eviction process once the notice period has ended and an eviction case has been opened.

Generally speaking, the Summon will occur fourteen days after service. A tenant has two options to consider once they are served a copy of the Summons:

  1. To contest the eviction
  2. To simply move out of their rented premises

what is the process for eviction

4. The Court Hearing

During the eviction hearing, the court will allow both parties to present as much evidence as possible. To strengthen your eviction case against your tenant, make sure to carry:

  • Proof that the tenant committed a lease violation
  • Proof of the demand notice
  • A copy of the rental agreement

On the tenant's part, they may fight the eviction lawsuit by alleging that:

  • The landlord discriminated against the tenant. According to North Carolina Fair Housing Act, you cannot discriminate against a tenant based on a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics include religion, national origin, color, race, sex, familial status, and disability.
  • The property wasn't habitable. One of your key landlord responsibilities is to ensure your property is fit for occupation. Rodent infestation, mold growth, and lack of a working heating and cooling system are all examples of egregious violations to the habitability laws.
  • The eviction is a retaliatory act. Tenants do have rights, such as the right to form or join a tenant's union. They also have a right to complain about unsafe, unsanitary, or indecent conditions to the landlord. It would, therefore, be illegal for you to evict tenants for exercising any of these rights.
  • You failed to follow the laid down eviction procedure. When evicting a tenant, you must follow all the legal procedures meticulously.
  • You tried to remove the tenant using "self-help" methods. It's only a court proceeding that can remove a tenant from their rented premises. (N.C. Gen. Stat. ยง 42-25.6.).

5. Judgment Possession

If the judge rules in your favor, the district court will award you a "Judgment Possession." This basically gives the possession of the property back to you. If the tenant chooses to appeal the judgment, they will have 10 days to do so.

At this point, you may also want to file a Writ of Possession. This will give the county sheriff the authority to remove the tenant out of the premises.

writ of possession process nc

Need Help?

Still have some more questions about property management and evictions in North Carolina? A lot of North Carolina landlords do! If you're one of them, TE Johnson & Sons can help. We are an experienced property management company serving Winston-Salem property owners.

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