This blog post is only for people who live in the cities of Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Morrisville and surroundings, in Wake County, North Carolina. If you have a property in the area and you are experiencing problems with a tenant who is not paying rent, this post if for you.
First things first, let’s calm down. Don’t let your emotions to get the best of you. It will not resolve your problem. You want to do this the right way, the legal way. NEVER take this manner in your own hands, and make sure you know your rights as well as your tenants rights.
Now, Think about the following:
Have you heard from your tenant?
Is your tenant still alive?
Is your tenant sick?
Is your tenant out of the country or out of town?
If this is the case, reach out to your tenant and find out if they are planning on paying, and when they will be doing it.
To ease your doubts and frustration, it would be best to know the condition of your tenant. Chances are if your tenant has been consistently paying rent in the past and just missed his/her first month of rent, your tenant might be facing a personal problem. Make sure you are able to communicate with your tenant to first assess the problem
Check the lease agreement
Review your leasing agreement carefully. You might be forgetting details or overlook clauses about dates when to pay the rent, holiday payment schedule or grace periods. Again, make sure you know your tenant’s rights
Make sure you are not forgetting your tenant notified you that he would be late for payment
Do you have receipts or recorded rent payments of your tenant?
Double check the amounts and dates of rent payments between you and your tenant . Advance payments should be taken into account as well. If you don’t have a record, check your bank statements.
Contact your trusted Realtor or Co-Landlords
Realtors and your co-landlords are good resource of experience and valuable information. They might have encountered and resolved the same problem as you are facing. Knowing what they have done might solve your dilemma. Eventually it will save you from headaches, stress, waste of time and money.
Contact your lawyer (If you have one)
As a landlord, you have rights. You can use the law for your non-paying tenant to pay. But remember, your tenant has rights too. They have a privilege to seek help from lawyers.
A lawyer’s advice will help you understand the regulations governing your area. Since you are in North Carolina, some laws from other states might not be applicable. At the same time, you can evaluate your actions as a landlord if it is violating your tenant’s right or it is becoming unlawful.
It's time for eviction
If all of your answers are YES to the questions above and still your tenant did not pay rent then it’s time for EVICTION which is a process that allows a landlord to lawfully remove a tenant. At this stage, timing counts such as when eviction notice was given. As a landlord you have to be very careful and meticulous to details.
Here in Raleigh, First step is to give an eviction notice. This is given after your tenant fails to pay the rent on your agreed date. You have to take into consideration grace periods, forfeiture clause and notice clause stated in your contract. This notice can be called 10 Day Notice to Vacate or 10 Day Demand for Rent which means that you are terminating the tenancy.
If the tenant decides to pay, then your burden is over. You cannot just accept the payment you need to issue a waiver. But if the tenant still stayed and did not pay the rent you may file for eviction papers.
On the 11th Day you may file for eviction papers called Summary Ejection in the small claims court or district court where your property is located. If you are located in Raleigh, North Carolina you may find your small claims court in Wake County. The court clerk will provide a form called the “Complaint in Summary Ejectment”. There is a filling fee.
The court will issue a summon which contains the date, time and location for the tenant to answer the complaint. A Country Sheriff is the one who will give the summon and complaint to the tenant.
During the court hearing you and your tenant can present your story if you are in Raleigh, North carolina like I am, you will be doing this at the wake county courthouse.You will have to present evidence or witnesses that the tenant has breached your lease agreement contract in front of a judge. The judge will give his decision at the end of the hearing. If you (the landlord) win, the judge will award a “Summary Ejectment”, Which means tenant has 10 days to vacate the property. And you may be awarded “Money judgment” for rent owed.
Your tenant is given 10 days to appeal against the decision to the District Court. At the same time, if you lose you have ten days to appeal for the unfavorable decision. If your tenant does not vacate and appeal to the court then you may file a Writ of Possession which serves as a force eviction of the tenant. At the time, a wake county sheriff will come and kick the tenant out.
THINK before you evict someone:
If you evict your tenants for no reason, you can get in trouble. Text messages, social media messages, emails are considered evidence. Even verbal conversations with you and your tenant are very crucial most specially the ones that has a witness. Any hints of unlawful eviction can get you into trouble. Worse, it will make your burden longer because there are laws that protect your tenants.
Also, before you think about evicting your tenant, you should think about the living conditions of your rental property. Any notice of your tenant about their living condition that you disregard matters in court. As a landlord you have a duty to keep your property fit to be livable and in accordance to North Carolina housing and building codes. But if your tenant fails to address or complain about their living condition then it can be your best defense as a landlord.
You evicted your tenant, now what?
You most likely now have a vacant home not producing any cash flow. As a matter of fact you are probably in the hole, you may have a mortgage on the house that you simply cannot afford. Or you may have a lot of repairs to make before you can get another tenant in the home.
If that is your case:
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