In a perfect world, a landlord and a tenant have a great relationship, with both parties performing flawlessly under the agreement. Sadly, the landlord-tenant relationship can also be highly confrontational and problematic. This blog post, while not comprehensive, is designed to provide a step-by-step overview of the process by which a tenant may be evicted from a landlord’s premises.

According to North Carolina General Statute § 42-25.9(a), a landlord has unlawfully attempted to evict a tenant if the landlord does so without a court order. Such an attempt may result in heavy civil penalties. Therefore, it is vitally important to follow proper legal eviction procedures.

Step 1: Eviction Notice and grounds for eviction A landlord, or lessor of property, will not seek to evict a tenant, or lessee of property, without a good cause. There are several potential causes, or “grounds” for using the eviction process.

Non-payment of rent The most common reason a landlord seeks to evict a tenant is for non-payment of rent. In that scenario, a landlord is required to give a tenant an “Eviction Notice”. The Notice must include a demand for rent monies, and give the tenant 10 days to pay the rent that is due.

Staying longer than lease term (holdover tenant) Another reason for an eviction occurs where the tenant fails to vacate the premises upon the end of their lease. If a tenant is being evicted because they are staying on the premises beyond their lease term, the notice period is as follows:

7 Days if the tenant paid monthly
1 Month if tenant paid rent yearly

•     Other lease violation A lease will have several provisions that, if a tenant fails to abide by, may be grounds for an eviction. If a tenant is in violation of the lease agreement for another reason, the Notice is called a “10 Day Demand for Compliance or Possession.”

Step 2: Summary Ejectment After a tenant receives proper notice from the landlord, or the landlord’s attorney, and the notice period has elapsed, the landlord must then file a Complaint In Summary Ejectment if the tenant remains on the property. It is important that the landlord follow proper court procedure and does not attempt to personally evict the tenant! The Summary Ejectment Complaint must be filed with the Clerk of Court, and is accompanied by a filing fee. The Complaint is filed in the county that the tenant lives in.

Step 3: Service of Summons and Complaint Once the landlord files the Summary Ejectment, the court will give a Summons and a copy of the Complaint to the Sheriff, who then serves, or delivers the documents to the tenant. There is typically a fee charged for this service, which varies by County.

Step 4: Magistrate Hearing After the tenant receives the Summons and Complaint, there will be a hearing in front of a Magistrate. The tenant must attend this hearing if he/she wishes to contest the eviction. The landlord and tenant will be provided an opportunity to present the facts as they see them, including documents and witnesses for evidence. After each side has spoken, the Magistrate will make the decision as to whether the tenant should be evicted, and may even order the tenant to pay money for unpaid rent or damage to the property.

Step 5: Judgment If the landlord wins the eviction, the Magistrate will issue a court order forcing the tenant to leave the premises, entitling the landlord to possession of the property again. If the Magistrate finds the tenant owes money, the Magistrate will also issue a “Money Judgment” requiring the tenant to pay the money owed to the landlord.

Step 6: Appeal There is a 10 day window after the Judgment is signed to appeal the decision to the District Court. The party seeking to appeal, either the tenant or the landlord, must provide notice to the other party of their intent to appeal.

Step 7: Final Step If the tenant chooses not to appeal, or loses the appeal, the tenant must leave the property within 10 days. If the tenant remains on the premises, the landlord may ask the Court to order the Sheriff to evict the tenant.

This post is provided for informational purposes only, and is neither intended as legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. To speak to an attorney regarding your landlord-tenant issue, contact Dugan & Leger, PLLC at 910-253-5400.