How to Evict Tenants Legally - A Guide for Landlords with Rental Properties
Create a tenant move-out checklist to protect rental homes, minimize vacancies and prevent tenant misunderstandings.
Do you understand how to evict tenants legally? Unfortunately, tenant evictions are a part of doing business for landlords with rental properties in North Carolina and other states. Like most landlord and tenant laws, each state has specific eviction laws and procedures landlords must follow to evict tenants legally. Not following those laws can lead to costly compliance issues for landlords.
Landlords should take the time to research and understand state-specific tenant eviction laws or work with a property management company who does. Here is a link to North Carolina Landlord-Tenant law regarding eviction (i.e., Article 2A Ejectment of Residential Tenants). In this Landlord’s Rental Guide article, we will look at the basics of how to evict tenants legally to give rental real estate investors insight into tenant evictions.
Avoid Self-Help Evictions or Pay the Price
Landlords who do not follow the legal eviction process and take matters into their own hands are asking for trouble. It does not matter if your tenant refuses to pay rent or damages your rental property, landlords cannot do the following:
- Change the locks or lock out the tenant
- Remove tenant’s personal property from rental home
- Shut off essential utilities for the rental property
- Harass or threaten the tenant
- Order the tenant to leave
Landlords who perform their evictions are not only breaking the law, but they are also opening up the door to being sued by the tenant for wrongful eviction, trespassing, intentional infliction of emotional distress and much more. Our best piece of advice to landlords is simple: follow the legal eviction process each and every time you must evict a tenant.
Reasons to Evict Tenants Legally
Landlords must have a reason to lawfully remove a tenant from a rental property. The reason behind a legal eviction could involve one or more of the following:
- Nonpayment of rent
- Lease violation(s) by the tenant
- Criminal activity such as drug trafficking
- Hold-over tenant (tenant stays in rental unit after lease ends without consent of landlord)
Once a landlord determines an eviction of a tenant is necessary, what are the next steps they should take? Let’s look at an overview of evictions next. Remember, this is just a general overview, and each state has a specific legal eviction process you must follow.
Overview of How to Evict Tenants Legally
The first step if you plan to evict a tenant in North Carolina is to serve that tenant with a termination notice. Each type of notice is specific to a reason for the eviction. For example, North Carolina property managers and landlords evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent will serve the tenant with a “notice to quit,” which gives the tenant a specific timeline for paying the rent balance due. If that balance is not paid, then the landlord or property manager files eviction papers.
Once the notice requirements have been followed, landlords then file eviction papers in the county where the rental property is located and begin court proceedings. The tenant is then served with a summons and copy of the complaint. The tenant then has the choice to vacate the rental property or appear in court to fight the eviction.
If the eviction proceedings go to court, the landlord and tenants have the right to present their cases before a judge. If the landlord wins the eviction judgment, the tenant then has ten days to appeal the decision. Once that appeal period is over or if the landlord wins the appeal, the next step is to file a writ of possession which then gives the tenant seven days to vacate the premise.
As you can see, even the basic overview of how to evict tenants legally can be confusing and time-consuming for landlords. Two of the reasons landlords choose to work with a property management company are to alleviate the headaches of following the eviction process and to minimize exposure to liability when it comes to tenant evictions.
In fact, Red Door Company rarely has to initiate legal action due to our tenant screening, contract, and communication processes, which help avoid conflict and allow our team members to use their expertise to find mutually acceptable resolutions for all parties involved. To learn more about our North Carolina property management services, please do not hesitate to contact us today.