North Carolina Evictions during the COVID-19 outbreak

On March 10, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency in North Carolina. As a result of this declaration and further executive orders in the last month, Justice Beasley, of the North Carolina Supreme Court has entered several Orders limiting the normal operation of the North Carolina Court System. The Orders entered by Justice Beasley have expressly ordered the rescheduling of all proceedings unless:

  1. The proceeding can be conducted remotely
  2. The proceeding is necessary to preserve the right to due process of law
  3. The proceeding is for the purpose of obtaining emergency relief
  4. The senior resident superior court judge, the chief business court judge or chief district court judge determines that the proceeding can occur under conditions that protect the health and safety of all participants.

On March 31, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper entered an Executive Order that discusses the restrictions on Evictions under Chief Justice Beasley's Orders.

Are Evictions banned?

Chief Justice Beasley's Order and Governor Cooper's Executive Order state that there should be no new eviction proceedings until the courts resume normal operations. This means that eviction proceedings are not currently being heard in Mecklenburg County. However, this only means that if grounds for eviction occur post March 13, the eviction proceeding will not proceed. Before making decisions about not paying rent or communicating financial troubles to your landlord, a consult with an experienced Landlord/Tenant attorney is advisable. Our experienced attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have the knowledge and skill to assist you in discussing your options.

Governor Cooper's order clarifies that if a Writ of Possession has already been entered, it can still be executed. Since we have now been under these orders for a month now, most previously entered Writs have been executed or postponed. However, if you are concerned about your situation, consulting with a knowledgeable landlord/tenant attorney is advisable.

The Eviction Process.

The North Carolina eviction process is court proceeding, even thought some of the proceeding can be conducted in front of the magistrate rather than a District Court Judge. Despite what your landlord may say, you can only be evicted by the Sheriff's Office. Your landlord cannot unilaterally force you out of your rental without court intervention if you have executed a lease.

Your landlord is required to give you notice in advance if they intend to terminate a lease or make a demand for past due rent before they can seek court intervention to begin the eviction process.

If your landlord has initiated eviction proceedings, your landlord cannot hand you the Summons and Complaint. It must be served on you by a sheriff deputy, or process server, or sent by certified mail or a certified mail delivery service such as FedEx or UPS.

The magistrate summons will include a court date. You have the opportunity to appear at this hearing in order to contest your eviction. There are many ways to contest an eviction, such as you did not receive proper notice, you were not properly served with the summons and complaint, your landlord has accepted some rent from you, or the property has not been kept in a fit and habitable condition by the landlord.

If you are facing potential eviction or believe you are in danger of a possible eviction proceeding, it is important that you consult with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible.

But what if I cannot pay my rent?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused struggles across all sectors of life due to the unique stay-at-home Orders and prohibitions on certain activities. While you may be facing a loss of income due to loss of employment from the stay-at-home Orders, your landlord may also be suffering the same problems. Governor Cooper's Executive Order #124 also urges landlords and property owners to work with tenants in these uncertain times to work out payment plans to avoid evictions. It is important to communicate carefully with your landlord to avoid make a stressful and tense situation any worse. Our skilled landlord/tenant attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can assist you in negotiations with your landlord and in protecting your rights as a tenant.

Contact an Experienced Landlord/Tenant Attorney

If you are falling behind on rent and are facing possible eviction contact an experienced landlord/tenant attorney in the greater Charlotte area of North Carolina to help you understand your legal rights as a tenant, and how best protect yourself in an potential eviction proceeding. Contact an experienced landlord/tenant attorney at Arnold & Smith, PLLC at 704.370.2828 or online today to schedule your consultation.