When Tenants Behave Badly

Basic Steps of Eviction

Eviction is really the last thing you want to deal with as a landlord or rental property owner. The idea of removing a tenant from a property is stressful for all concerned. However, sometimes it’s the only way to handle a delinquent tenant or a destructive one. We all want to help each other out during the pandemic, but there are those who are habitual default tenants playing the system. Also, tenants who damage property on an ongoing basis and break lease requirements are candidates for eviction. Knowing the process is helpful in avoiding this unfortunate circumstance.

If the tenant has accrued a hefty balance in past due rent or the tenant has refused to comply with important lease provisions, the landlord must initiate the eviction process. This is the last resort after all other efforts and attempts have been exhausted. Below, is an overview of the eviction process in North Carolina.

Demand for Possession or Eviction Notice

This is a step that some landlords miss and they regret it later in court. In this step, you need to demand that the default tenant surrender possession of the premises. In other words, they need to leave if they don’t pay the default balance within a specific time provided in the lease. This is usually in the form of a demand letter stating the balance due amount and the due date for the default to be “cured.” The letter tells them that if they fail to pay the due amount, then they must surrender possession of the property to the landlord. If you fail to do this at the beginning of the eviction cycle, this will give the tenant the upper hand in court.

In NC, this is sometimes referred to as a 10-day Notice to Pay or Quit. It’s a form used for most rent default situations. You’ll want to deliver it by certified mail.

(Note: When writing up lease agreements, make sure that it includes terms of eviction!) Oak City Properties is experienced in writing up proper lease agreements that prevent issues down the road and which follow rental law. This is where a property manager comes in handy.

File a Complaint

This could be called an eviction, detainer, or dispossessory. In this step, the landlord completes a short form explaining the reasons for the eviction and paying a filing or service fee (around $250). In this form, you’ll raise any claims against the tenants.

Serve the Tenant with Eviction Papers

Local law enforcement usually performs this step or you can hire a private process server to make things go faster. This step is sometimes called “service of process.” It’s very important that the manner in which the tenant is served follows the letter of the law. This is where you really need an experienced property manager and lawyer to help.

Tenant’s Answer

The tenant must file an answer after being served. If the tenant does not file an answer, then this results in a default judgment. This entitles the landlord to take back possession of the premises.

Court Hearing

A hearing will be scheduled within a couple of weeks after the tenant’s answer due date. The landlord’s representative (landlord or property manager) gives testimony about the lease and the tenant’s default thereof along with evidence of it. The tenant gives their defense at the hearing, too. This is where documentary evidence comes in handy for the landlord. In other words, always document your correspondence with the tenant and keep accounting records.

Judgment and Writ of Possession

If you win in court, the judge will issue a judgment in your favor for the amount due. This may include attorney fees. A Writ of Possession is a document that authorizes you (landlord) to evict the default tenant.

Eviction Day

If the tenant refuses to leave the premises, then local law enforcement will step in and conduct the eviction. An eviction crew is usually hired to remove the tenant’s possession and place them on the sidewalk for them to pick up.

Hire a Property Management Company>

The best way to handle an eviction is to hire a property manager to do the work for you. No landlord enjoys evicting tenants. It’s a last resort in an ongoing situation that has reached the point of no return. Maybe the tenant hasn’t paid for six months or the tenant has damaged the property and continues to neglect it. There are several reasons that tenants must be evicted. During the COVID-19 pandemic, landlords have bent over backward trying to help distressed tenants. However, there are some tenants who had this issue before COVID-19 and they’re now taking advantage of the situation. That’s where an experienced property management company like Oak City Properties can help you.

We handle all the administrative issues that come up in a rental property. Eviction is complex and full of legal obstacles. Oak City Properties is well-versed in rental law and we are prepared to help you through the process every step of the way.

Please give us a call at (919) 232-9222 to discuss the management of your rental property or to help you turn a property into a rental.

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