Understanding Evictions: Guidelines for Raleigh Property Managers

No matter how thorough your tenant screening process, the fact of the matter is that screening only filters out tenants who have already built up a bad history. It’s rare, but possible, that a tenant with a clean background check, strong credit history, and good references will start to go South, for the same reasons that we all slip up in life. In some cases, you and your tenant might be able to come to an agreement. If not, you may find yourself with an eviction on your hands.

While evictions are costly and stressful, they are a natural and normal part of property ownership. They are also often the best way to protect your investment and yourself. Between property damage costs (such as exterminating an infestation) and opportunity costs (angry neighbors discouraging other tenants from renting), keeping a bad tenant can ultimately be much more expensive than an eviction. Below is a brief walkthrough of the eviction process for Raleigh investment property managers.

Understand Local Eviction Laws

Firstly, review the tenant eviction laws as they pertain to our state. You should especially review the The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA), which provides a more detailed explanation the eviction process. If your lease agreement was drafted with state laws and URLTA in mind, it is probably within your rights to evict someone, under appropriate circumstances.

Do Not Take Any Actions Without a Court Order 

It is very important to understand that certain actions are illegal in every state, no matter how much the tenant is damaging your property or infuriating the neighbors. You cannot legally do any of the following:

  • Remove the tenant’s property from the unit
  • Hire someone to physically remove the tenant
  • Change the locks while the tenant is away
  • Shut off essential utilities, such as electric, gas, and water
  • Do anything to encourage the tenant to leave (i.e. release spiders into the basement)

In order to perform a legal, by-the-book eviction, you will need to prove to the judge that you are an upstanding, law-abiding citizen. Be patient, and follow the process. The more lease agreements the tenant violates, the easier it will be to evict them.

Make Sure Your Reason for Eviction is Valid

Typically, the following reasons are sufficient for an eviction, provided the tenant has been given fair notice:

  • Failing to pay rent
  • Violating the lease/agreement (allowing pets, subletting, etc.)
  • Causing significant property damage
  • Breaking noise, occupancy, or health ordinances
  • Causing health or safety hazards

Remember that you will need documented proof of any claim you make against your tenant.

Give the Tenant a Formal Eviction Notice

One of the most important steps in the eviction process is to provide adequate Eviction Notice. This is usually a simple document that informs your tenant that they are being evicted; why this is the case; and what they can do to avoid the eviction (pay rent, clean up the property, etc.) You can make things easier on yourself by using this North Carolina-specific template. You must both tape the Eviction Notice to the tenant’s front door, and mail it to them via the US Postal Service.

Still with Us? Check Out Part 2: Going to Court

The majority of evictions end here, with the eviction notice, as most tenants do not want to go through the struggle of court procedures. However, if a week or so goes by with no noticeable change, it will be time to file the eviction with your local courts. For guidance on how to do this, check out Part 2 of our series.

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests,

but also to the interests of others..."

Phil. 2:4