A Guide to the Eviction Process in Jacksonville, North Carolina

The landlord-tenant laws in North Carolina give landlords certain rights, one of them being the right to evict a tenant for violation of the lease agreement.

A successful tenant eviction requires strict adherence to the law. This means you cannot take matters into your own hands by turning off heat or electricity, removing the front door, or changing the locks. These are all forms of “self-help” evictions and are illegal.

Whether you’re a new landlord or you’re looking to learn more, here’s a basic overview of the North Carolina eviction process.

Legal Reason

To start the eviction process, you need a legal reason. In other words, you cannot evict your tenant because you no longer like them. Legal reasons to evict a tenant in North Carolina include:

  • Failure by the tenant to pay their rent
  • Habitual late rent payment by the tenant
  • Gross violation of the lease agreement
  • Engaging in illegal activities
  • Causing excessive property damage. For instance, holes in walls or burns on carpet.

Once you identify one of these reasons the next step in the process is to serve the tenant with an eviction notice.

Eviction Notices

An eviction notice is a legal document that a landlord sends to a tenant to notify them that their eviction has begun. Generally speaking, it tells the tenant two things, the reason for the eviction and the course of action to take.

The following are the various types of eviction notices in the state of North Carolina.

Evictions North Carolina

1. Nonpayment of Rent

This is one of the most common reasons for eviction in North Carolina. According to the statewide statutes, rent becomes late a day after it’s due. If you offer any grace periods, you must address them in your lease or rental agreement. Note, however, that late rent fees can only apply after 5 days lapse.

Once rent becomes due, you must give your tenant a grace period of at least 10 days before commencing the eviction. If the tenant doesn’t pay rent by the end of the 10 day period and remains on the premises, you may proceed with their eviction.

2. Illegal Activity

You may evict tenants who engage in criminal activities at your rental property. In North Carolina, illegal activity is defined in two ways. The first definition is a criminal activity that affects the safety and health of other tenants. The second definition is the illegal use, possession, manufacture, and sale of controlled substances.

Unlike nonpayment of rent, you don’t have to give your tenants an option to ‘cure’ their violation. You can move directly and file a complaint in the appropriate court.

3. Lease Violations

You can also evict your tenant for failing to uphold the terms of the lease agreement. You don’t have to give your tenant an eviction notice for this.

Common lease violations under this category include:

  • Exceeding the rental limit
  • Keeping a pet when the pet policy doesn’t allow it
  • Causing excessive property damage

Unlike in some other states, you can move directly to court and file a complaint.

legal evictions in NC

4. End of Lease

A tenant who continues to stay in the rental unit after their lease has expired is known as a “holdover” tenant. You must notify them prior to beginning any eviction proceedings against them.

The notice period to give the tenant depends on the tenancy type. For tenants on a week-to-week agreement, you’ll need to give them 2 days’ notice. For tenants on a monthly agreement, you must give them 7 days’ notice. And for tenants on a yearly lease, you must provide them notice of at least 30 days.

Once the notice has expired and the tenant hasn’t moved out, you can continue with their eviction.

Eviction Complaint

If you’ve served the tenant the eviction notice and they haven’t complied with it, you may move to court and file a complaint. It goes without saying that you must do so in the appropriate court.

In North Carolina, this will cost you about $96 if you file it in a small claims court. Once you’ve filed it, the court will serve a summons to the tenant. This must be done within a period of 5 days.

Court Hearing

If you filed the complaint in a small claims court, the hearing may be held within 7 days after issuance of the summons. But this can take longer in a district court, with the hearing taking place within 30 days.

court hearing for evictions

The tenant can choose whether or not to appear during the court hearing. If they don’t appear, the court may issue a default judgment in your favor. This means that the tenant will not have any other option than to move out.

Your tenant, however, could choose to fight their eviction. In the hearing, they may allege any of the following as a defense:

  • You used “self-help” eviction tactics to try and evict them from the property.
  • You failed to follow the proper eviction process. For example, you served the wrong eviction notice.
  • The eviction was a result of discrimination or retaliation against them.

Writ of Possession

This is a legal document that acts as the tenant’s final notice to leave. It gives the tenant 10 days to leave on their own or else risk getting evicted by the sheriff.

Summary

It’s important as a North Carolina landlord that when renting out your property you familiarize yourself with the state's rental laws and eviction process. You must also stay up to date on security deposit and leasing laws.

If you need help with managing your properties, Anchor Real Estate is a knowledgeable and experienced property management company serving property owners in Onslow County.

Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. Laws change and it might not be up to date at the time you read it. If you need further help, kindly consider asking for legal help from a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.

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