The topic of eviction is often on the mind of anyone who rents out property, and I get asked all the time how to evict tenants who aren’t paying rent. People who manage their own homes often don’t know where to go and what to fill out. You don’t have to use an attorney to file your eviction, but I do recommend it. Anyone can file the necessary eviction paperwork; a homeowner, a property manager or an attorney.
In North Carolina, you have to have a written and enforceable lease. It must clearly state when rent is due and what happens when rent is not paid on time. There is no grace period mandated, so if rent is due on the first of the month and it doesn’t get paid, then it’s late on the second. At Carolinas Metro Realty, we charge a late fee if rent isn’t paid by the fifth of the month. If there is still no rent paid by the 15th or the 20th we will file for eviction.
You do need to notify your tenants that they are late paying rent, and you are going to file for eviction on a certain date if the rent is not paid. When you don’t hear from your tenants and that date comes and goes without payment, you go down to the courthouse and file the required paperwork. This is where an attorney can come in handy; the court is very strict. If you don’t fill out the paperwork properly, it’s not going to be accepted and you’ll have to wait and re-file all over again. That will only cost you more money and more stress. Homeowners who have been managing their properties on their own have actually come to us specifically to evict a tenant.
After you file the Summary Ejectment, you need to wait for a court date. Once the date is set, everyone gets notified and the magistrate serves the summons to your tenant. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to go to court and state your case. The tenants will also have an opportunity to make their defense, but a lot of times, the tenants don’t even show up. The magistrate will give a ruling and the landlord usually wins. Once you get the judgment, you can file a Writ of Possession. After five days of receiving your Writ of Possession, you and the sheriff will go to your property and change the locks.
From that point, the tenants have seven days to move their personal property out of the house. This is permitted by appointment only, so you can let the tenants know when to meet you at the house to get their things moved out. This law has just changed. It used to be that the tenants had 10 days, but now it’s seven. Once those seven days pass, you can go in and remove anything left behind that isn’t valued at over $500. If you do an eviction and there’s a ratty couch left in the living room, you can throw it out as long as it’s not worth $500 or more. In the event that something is worth over $500, you’ll have to do a personal property eviction.
Many self managing property owners might be unsure of whether to collect money during the eviction process. What if you file for eviction and then the tenants want to pay? Should you take that money? If you do take it, you have to cancel the eviction because the court will consider the rent paid. Don’t take any money from the tenants after an eviction is filed unless you’re willing to call it off.
You might file for eviction and then have the tenants come and hand over the keys. Maybe someone lost a job, so they can’t afford the place anymore. If this happens, you can stop the eviction because the tenants have surrendered the property. You’ll want to continue with the eviction if they left a lot of personal items behind in the property, however.
Normally, an eviction in the Charlotte area takes 45 days or more. Hiring a property management company can take a lot of the stress and anxiety out of the process because we handle everything for you. If you have any questions on evictions, or you’d like more information on what we can do for you, contact us at Carolinas Metro Realty.