Another Eviction Success Story

I periodically get e-mails from other landlords who have bought and read the NC Eviction Handbook. Sometimes folks ask specific questions which are answered in the book, but because of NC law and the fact that I am only an landlord, not a lawyer, I can’t answer the question. But often enough, people are kind enough to send me their thoughts and comments on the books. Here is what Janet B. sent me the other day. She’s in the unfortunate circumstance of having to battle a professional tenant long-distance, but fortunately now knows what she needs in order to get her property back.

“Thanks again for your eviction book. I mailed them a 10 day notice letter and they have agreed to move out by the end of the month. Best $20.00 I ever spent.”

Stay the course Janet, and don’t be afraid to file the eviction if the tenants don’t do as agreed.

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Get it in Writing!

One of the most common lessons that landlords need to learn is the importance of getting agreements into writing. Relationships, particularly landlord-tenant relationships, are prone to going sour, and your verbal agreement that the tenant owes X amount of money and would pay it be a certain date will be difficult to prove in court if the tenant suddenly forgets about it!

If you agree to modify the tenant’s rent, just make a quick note saying as such and have them sign it.

If you agree to have a certain maintenance task performed on a certain date, even if you type up a letter and mail it to them, that will likely help in the event of an eviction.

If you agree to let the tenant perform maintenance for a reduction in rent, definitely have them sign something – especially an independent contractor agreement.

If the tenant makes a payment and still has a balance, give them a receipt with the balance on it. This could save you a lot of trouble in court.

Some tenants know the system and are unfortunately OK with perjury. You can only protect yourself from these people by getting written agreements with them.

Don’t learn this lesson the hard way; protect yourself by getting it in writing.

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Evicting Tenants & the Appeals Process in North Carolina

Yesterday, I spoke with a very nice gentleman who is unfortunately going through his first tenant eviction in North Carolina and is now dealing with the appeals process. If you’ve read the North Carolina Eviction Handbook, then you know in detail how to detail with this stage of the eviction process, but let me give you an overview of what to expect.

 

After the Eviction Trial, the Tenant Can Appeal

Assuming you won at the Small Claims Court summary ejectment trial, your tenant will have 10 days to file an eviction appeal. As a general rule of thumb, tenants rarely appeal their evictions. They know they owe money or have done things they shouldn’t have and just want to avoid any more heat.

But sometimes, they appeal their evictions.

I know it sounds scary, but in reality an eviction appeal is not the end of the world. Yes, it is a pain in the butt to deal with, especially if you’ve never dealt with an appeal before, but you will get through it.

 

What an Eviction Appeal Means

Basically, an appeal means that the tenant thinks the Small Claims Magistrate was wrong to enter a judgment in your (the Landlord’s favor) and they want to have the case re-heard in District Court. To do this, the tenant will need to pay some amount of money including court costs (but not always) and a trial date will be set usually a few weeks in the future.

In North Carolina, the tenant thankfully is obligated to pay rent as it comes due, and presuming you win again at the eviction appeal trial, you will be able to receive those funds.

 

What Should You Do to Prepare?

In my experience, as long as my cases have been strong at Small Claims Court (I’ve got a number of eviction techniques to make sure I only bring strong eviction cases to trial), then you will likely be good-to-go at District Court. Make sure all of your documents are exactly in order, try to anticipate the arguments that the Tenant will bring up to avoid eviction, and consider speaking with attorney. Some Landlords are required to show up with an attorney (many companies, for example).

I very rarely need to consult with attorneys anymore, but I do have a deal worked out with one of my friends who is a lawyer to simply appear with me (since my property is held in an LLC) and I do all the talking.

 

You’ll Get Through This

Believe me, I know how un-fun it is to go through evictions, but all long-term landlords will need to cut their teeth eventually on an tenant appeal. Your number just finally came up.

Good luck and if I can be of service, email me at John@EvictYourTenantNC.com.

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10-Day Notice Going to 5 Days!

In a remarkably sane move, the NC Legislature passed a bill, which was signed into law by Governor Perdue, reducing the grace period on rental payments from 10 days down to 5 days. Under current law, Landlords cannot file court papers until you’ve waited the 10-day period. This can be a painful period for landlords as you’re basically forced to donate free-rent to your Tenant, who in all liklihood will not pay you after the period expires. For $1,000/mo rent, the 10-days could cost you $333, so this bill effectively saves you half that.

Furthermore, this new bill allows Landlords to use security deposits for more things like late fees and the costs of finding a new renter. The law does not go into effect until Oct 1, 2012 so don’t change your policies just yet.

If you want to learn how to legally avoid all state-mandated grace periods, check out the NC Eviction Handbook. I’ve saved literally thousands of dollars by following a few relatively easy techniques.

 

 

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Do NOT Perform a Self-Help Eviction

If you’re a landlord for long enough, you’re going to eventually deal with a rotten tenant. I know how frustrating it can be for a tenant to pull a fast one on you, to lie to your face, to even call the city to complain about damage that they caused.

Believe me, I know you might want to exact revenge on this person, but it is not worth it. There are laws in North Carolina which protect tenants from extra-judicial (outside the court system) evictions also known as a “Self-Help Eviction.” Doing things like turning off utilities, changing locks, throwing out belongings and so on are very illegal and open you up to legal liability (N.C.G.S. § 42‑25.9 B).

Don’t risk it: learn how to do evictions properly in North Carolina.

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Fairness of the North Carolina Eviction System

I talk to a lot of landlords and whenever we talk about evictions, this topic comes up. We love to complain to each other about the system and how some tenant is abusing it, but in reality, how fair is North Carolina Eviction System?

In my opinion, pretty fair.

On one extreme, we could have a system that treated rental units as hotel rooms where as soon as someone doesn’t pay their bill, they get locked out (I know a lot of guys who would love to have something like this). On the other extreme, we could have a system that required a costly court battle that might last 6 months or more at a minimum (I’m looking at you California & New York).

North Carolina has struck a balance between these two options with a system that will typically see the tenant gone within about 6 weeks after the initial summary ejectment complaint is filed. The trial will usually be two weeks after the initial filing, which ought to be enough for a tenant to prepare a defense. At the trial, the landlord will need to prove their complaint (the tenant didn’t pay, violated the lease, or something else). It’s a simple process with most cases being pretty obvious one way or the other.

The tenant then has 10 days to consider an appeal. If they do appeal, they are afforded even more time to prepare their case, during which they have to pay their monthly rent directly to the court. They also have to pay their back rent to the court to file the appeal (unless they declare themselves indigent, in which case, they have to pay very little money to appeal).

As a landlord, sure it would be nice to be able to be rid of non-paying tenants sooner, but given that both landlords and tenants have the capacity to abuse the system and that tenants generally have fewer resources to defend themselves, I would say that the current system is pretty fair.

If you’re a landlord, consider checking out the North Carolina Eviction Handbook to learn the procedures for evicting tenants in North Carolina.

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