North Carolina Eviction Law

Posted by Christopher Berkompas in North Carolina

Note: I am not a lawyer, and this does not constitute legal advice.

What qualifies as a valid legal cause for a landlord to evict a tenant?

A tenant may most commonly be evicted for two reasons; failing to pay rent, or substantially violating the terms of the lease.  Illegal or criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, may also be sufficient cause.

What are the steps involved in performing an eviction?

State law does not approve of retaliatory convictions.  Therefore, the landlord may not attempt to evict or harass the tenant for attempting to get the landlord to comply with the lease, for making requests for repairs, or similar actions.  The only legal method to evict a tenant in North Carolina is through the court system.

In order to start the process, the landlord must file a complaint with the local small claims court.  A summons will then be served by the court to the tenant, which will contain information about the hearing date when the tenant must appear in court.  If the tenant does not attend the hearing, the court will decide in favor of the landlord by default.  

At the hearing, both parties will present evidence and argue their case, and attorneys may be present.  Generally, the court will make its decision shortly afterward, and both parties will have 10 days to appeal the decision.  If it is in favor of the landlord, the tenant will be ordered to give up possession of the property.  The sheriff will force him to leave if necessary.

On the other hand, if the court decides in favor of the tenant, he will be permitted to remain on the property for what remains of the lease term.


How are landlords supposed to deal with tenant belongings left behind?

The landlord may lock them into the premises, and the tenant will have ten (10) days in which to schedule a pickup during normal business hours.  If the tenant fails to do so within the time limit, the landlord may do whatever he wishes with the property.

Can the landlord shut off utilities or lock a tenant out prior to the completion of the eviction process?

The landlord may not attempt to evict the tenant himself, or harass the him by shutting down essential utilities, such as water or heating.  The tenant also cannot be locked out until he is legally evicted by the court.

Can a tenant be evicted for having a roommate?

Yes, if it was a violation of the terms of the lease.

Can landlords legally deduct legal fees and court costs from the security deposit?

No.  He must go through the court to recover these costs, and may only apply the security deposit against actual damage the tenant did to the property.

What happens when a tenant wins an eviction case that goes to court?

He will be permitted to remain on the premises for the remainder of the lease term.


North Carolina Landlord Tenant Laws Handbook

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