How Do Evictions Work in North Carolina

Chatham Property Manager Eric Andrews discusses the eviction process. How and why do landlords need to evict tenants? Is the process difficult? How do Chatham County courts handle evictions in Siler City and Pittsboro NC?

Speaker 1:           As a property management company, how do evictions work?

Speaker 2:           Well, we probably should take a step backwards and figure out why the client is evicted and what they’re doing. Why aren’t they paying the rent? And why didn’t you screen them well enough as a tenant? Why are they in there? Because this is something that should have been looked at before. So normally in North Carolina, you have a one month security deposit. So when the fifth comes along and the rent is now late, now we’re worried. Now something’s happened. The tenant can’t pay rent. Well, did we get one month security deposit, or did we get two month security deposit? If you come into our office and you have a bad credit report and you have some things that give us caution, we’re going to require two month security deposit, because that one month security deposit can get eaten up really quick. And that’s difficult for people to do. First month’s rent, two month security deposit, a thousand dollars rental. You’re talking about 3000 cash. It’s very difficult for people to come up with $3,000.

So we get in a situation where they’re late and we normally have, we try to make a phone call and see what’s happened and say, oh, I’m coming in tomorrow, whatever, no big deal, stuff happens. We understand that. But if you ignore us and we don’t know what’s going on, we’re going to send a required 10 day letter to let you know that if you don’t rectify this situation, we’re going to begin the eviction process. Again, best thing to do is call us, let us know. We need to tell the landlord something, okay. Landlord is going to want to know where their money is. And when we say we don’t know, we look bad and the tenant looks bad.

So even a partial payment is not a bad thing. So it shows an effort and we need to communicate and work this out. Stuff happens, cars break down. Somebody doesn’t pay child support. We understand that stuff happens, whatever. So just because you’re late one month is not a big, huge deal. Ignoring the situation, hoping that it’s going to go away is a big deal. So, no payment has been made for the first five days, and the 10 day letter has been ignored or you haven’t rectified the situation. Now we’re going to start an eviction process.

The tenant is required to have 30 days notice for this eviction hearing. Well, depending on the court dates and the availability, it can be 30 to 45 days. So, if you’re not paying I’ve extinguished that one month security deposit. That’s why I really like if we have red flags to have the two months security deposit, because the one month is gone. But what I tell landlords all the time is look, it’s upsetting that you weren’t paid, but really our focus should be not getting that money, but getting the premises back so we can re-rent it to another good tenant. It’s been very, very few times in the history of our company that we’ve had a bad tenant that we had to evict. What happens most of the time is we inherit a rental for an investor, or for someone else that ends up being a problem tenant that wasn’t screened by us.

So then we have our court date, papers have been filed and the magistrate goes through the docket. And it is very interesting all the little small claims things that happen or whatever, but they usually do property management first. And if the tenant shows up, they get to say why they didn’t pay the rent. If they don’t show up, the magistrate probably won’t award the money, because they’re not there to defend themselves, but they will give us an approval to get the property back. Sheriff gives notice that they have 10 days to get out and then they’re out. If there’s any property inside, this is another misconception. If there’s any property inside, you can’t throw it out. You can’t sell it. The landlord’s actually responsible to put it in some kind of dry, safe storage for, I believe it’s 30 to 60 days. And-.

Speaker 1:           Even after they’ve been-.

Speaker 2:           After they’ve been evicted. You can’t just throw their stuff out in the front yard, if it has any value, if it has any value. It’s to be determined or whatever. But the last thing you want to do is go through your process, do everything right, do the eviction right and then get sued in small claims because you threw out their stereo and it was worth several hundred dollars or whatever. So I know it’s a pain, but that’s the way to keep it in order. I think in 20 years, we’ve done less than a dozen evictions. We don’t do it often. All 12 times the magistrate has given the property back to the landlord. And then one of the nasty things is you’re going to say where you lived and whether or not it was managed by Realty World Carolina Properties.

I can tell you that if you have an old hospital bill, I’m going to be okay with that as a tenant that you didn’t pay. If you have an old cell phone bill that you didn’t pay, I’m going to be okay with that. If you had a car repossessed or some kind of divorce or someone was really sick, or there’s a death in the family, all those things are excusable and everything. The two biggest red flags that we have of whether or not we’re going to rent to you is if you don’t pay your power bill, because we just think that you’re really desperate. And so if you have power bill collections, that’s very bad. Not only that, you could damage the landlord’s property, if you don’t pay the power. And so, utilities are big. And then the second thing is if you have a previous eviction, we don’t want to inherit someone else’s problems. And there might be a reason for that. And if you give us a good reason, we’ll probably do that double security deposit and then things will move forward or whatever.

So the landlord does pay for it. It’s a couple hundred bucks. We make arrangements with the landlord to go through that process. It’s a stressful thing, it’s stressful to the landlord, it’s stressful to the tenant. Unfortunately we’ve done it enough that we know the process, it’s not that stressful to us. And the bottom line is the tenant has signed a lease with the landlord to pay this money per month. If they don’t, the lease is broken and they get out. And it’s an open and check case.