North Carolina's laws for the landlord-tenant relationship are found in Chapter 42 of the state statutes. The landlord must go to small claims court to evict a residential tenant, which requires following a specific process depending on the reason for the eviction.
The landlord usually must give the tenant advance warning before starting the eviction process. The length of this notice period varies depending on the circumstances:
- Non-payment of rent: 10 days notice.
- The expiration of an annual lease: one month notice if the landlord doesn't want to renew the lease.
- Expiring month-to-month agreement: seven days notice.
- Expiring weekly agreement: two days notice.
- The tenant broke the lease: the landlord can file for eviction immediately, without notification.
A tenant with unpaid rent can stop the eviction by catching up on her payments. The landlord doesn't have to give a renter who broke the lease any opportunity to fix the problem, unless the lease says otherwise.
Legal Aid of North Carolina says online that a landlord cannot evict a tenant for requesting repairs, filing a health complaint with the authorities or otherwise exercising his legal rights.
If the tenant doesn't leave by the end of the notice period, and doesn't resolve the problem, the landlord can file a summary ejectment lawsuit. To do this, she files a complaint form with the county small claims court. The county sheriff will serve a copy of the complaint on the tenant, along with a summons giving the date and time of the hearing. The court hearing will be held within seven days of issuing the summons.
At the hearing, both landlord and tenant present their case to the judge. For example, if the tenant can show cancelled checks for the supposedly unpaid rent, that's evidence for his side of the case. If the landlord wins, the court will issue a judgment for possession ordering the tenant to leave. The judge also may rule that the tenant must pay back rent or the cost of repairing any damage he's caused to the rental.
The tenant has 10 days to appeal to district court. If he chooses not to appeal, he has to leave at the end of the 10 days. Should the tenant stay, the landlord can ask the clerk of court to issue a writ of possession to the county sheriff.
Within seven days of receiving the writ, the sheriff will padlock the property so the tenant can't get back in. The tenant has 5 to 7 days after that to remove his possessions from the rental, or the landlord can dispose of them.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.