Evicting a tenant in North Carolina should take about one to three months. If you take the proper steps, it should be fairly straightforward, but depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of the court, it can take up to 90 days to complete the legal process from when you file the eviction notice to when the tenant must vacate the premises. But unless the court has reason to question the legitimacy of the eviction, it won't take longer than two to three months.
- Understand the Grounds for Eviction
- Serve the Tenant Notice
- File a Complaint with the Clerk of Court
- Go to Small Claims Court
- Wait to See if the Tenant Appeals the Decision
- Let the Sheriff Execute the Order
- Make Arrangements to Deal with Any Leftover Belongings
1. Understand the Grounds for Eviction
Before initiating the eviction process, you should take the time to understand what constitutes grounds for eviction so you don't waste any time or money on an unwinnable case. Here are a few valid reasons for evicting a tenant:
- Non-payment or late payment of rent.
- Violation of the terms of the lease agreement (unapproved pets, smoking, too many people living in the unit, etc.)
- The tenant is engaging in illegal activities in the unit.
But it's important to note that the reason you are evicting the tenant must be clearly stated in the lease. Any illegal activity is automatically cause for eviction, but if you plan on evicting a tenant over a pet or smoking, it must be clearly stated in the lease that the behavior is prohibited.
2. Serve the Tenant Notice
Before you begin the eviction process in court, you must serve the tenant notice. The amount of notice varies depending on the terms of the lease and the reason for the eviction. For non-payment of rent, you must serve them with a 10-day notice to pay the back rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant has paid rent on time, but the lease is set to expire, and you don't wish to renew, you'll be required to provide the following notice:
- Year-to-year lease: 30 days
- Month-to-month lease: 7 days
- Week to week lease: 2 days
When it comes to a breach of the lease, there is no statute, but it may be wise to serve them with a 10-day notice to be on the safe side. If you are evicting the tenant over illegal activity, you can order the tenant to stop the behavior and vacate immediately.
3. File a Complaint with the Clerk of Court
If you've served the proper notice and the tenant refuses to rectify the situation or vacate, the next step is to file a Magistrate's Summons and Complaint in Summary Ejectment with the Clerk of Court. You must also make sure the tenant is served with the complaint; however, you cannot personally deliver it. You can either send it by registered/certified mail or pay the Sheriff's Office or a process server to deliver it for you.
4. Go to Small Claims Court
Once the complaint is filed, you'll receive a date in Small Claims Court ten days later. The court date will be listed on the complaint, and it's crucial for you and the tenant to show up on time and present any evidence to state your case.
5. Wait to See if the Tenant Appeals the Decision
If the court rules in your favor and decides the tenant must vacate the premises, they still have ten days to appeal the decision and request a new trial. They can stay in their homes while they work on their appeal, although they must file a Bond to Stay execution and pay future rent to the court until a new court date is decided.
6. Let the Sheriff Execute the Order
Unless the tenant has solid grounds to appeal the decision, the Sheriff will execute the eviction order within five days of receiving it. They will then notify the tenant to either vacate or be ordered to leave. If they do not leave willingly before they execute the order, the Sheriff will come and escort them off the property. Any leftover belongings will be padlocked inside the home.
7. Make Arrangements to Deal with Any Leftover Belongings
If any belongings are left inside the home, the tenant has up to 7 days to make arrangements with the landlord to pick them up. After 7 days, the landlord has a legal right to dispose of them in whatever way they choose, whether it's selling them, throwing them away, or donating items to charity.
North Carolina has a fairly straightforward process for evicting tenants who have clearly violated the terms of the lease. But before you initiate the process, it's important to understand the legal grounds for eviction and the required legal process so you don't make a mistake. Even if you have a good reason to evict a tenant, they can appeal the decision if you neglect to follow the proper protocols. So, make sure to follow the process required by law and don't attempt to force them out on your own if you want everything to go smoothly.
1. Does North Carolina Require 30 Days' Notice to Vacate?
Landlords are required to give a tenant 30 days' notice to vacate if they have a yearly lease that is about to expire and they no longer wish to continue the tenancy. For non-payment of rent, only ten days is required.
2. How Many Days Do You Have to Move Out After Eviction Notice in North Carolina?
Unless you appeal the decision and get permission to stay in the home, you have five days to vacate the premises once the writ of possession is delivered to the sheriff's office. Otherwise, they will come and order you to leave.
3. What Are NC Eviction Rules if You Have No Lease?
If the tenant has no lease or previously had a lease, but it's expired (known as a holdover tenant), that is grounds in and of itself to evict them. You must serve them 7 days' notice to vacate the property, but if they refuse to leave, you can file a complaint, just like you would for non-payment of rent or lease violations.