A North Carolina eviction notice, better known as a notice to quit, is a written document. The landlord or their agent writes the notice to inform the tenant that they’ve violated their lease or rental agreement in some way and must either correct the issue or vacate the property within a certain amount of time. In North Carolina, all eviction notices must follow the state’s landlord-tenant laws. It is the first action that a landlord or their agent must take before they can decide to file a lawsuit against the tenant to regain possession of the property.
Since a North Carolina eviction notice is the first thing that a landlord must do (because they cannot sue the tenant unless the tenant is served with an eviction notice), it needs to give the tenant enough information to understand why they received it and what, if anything, they can do to correct the issue (and by when they must take action). In this section, we’re going to talk about the components that give this information and how eviction notices must be served. Let’s start with the components. North Carolina eviction notices need:
For legal service to be perfected, which is a necessary part of the eviction process, the eviction notice must be served on the tenant or a member of that household who is over the age of 14 years old by the landlord, posted in a visible spot on the property (such as the front door), or sent via certified mail (with return receipt requested).
Next, we’ll look at some of the most common eviction notices used in North Carolina.
Immediate Notice to Quit
An immediate notice to quit is used when the tenant is involved in criminal activity of some kind that involves the rental property or has committed another sort of incurable lease violation. Incurable means that the tenant isn’t give the opportunity to correct the issue. Use of this sort of eviction notice is known as an expedited eviction. It demands that the tenant immediately vacate the property. This notice should explain why expedited eviction is being used. State law § 42-26 defines how this notice is used.
10-Day Notice to Quit for Non-Payment of Rent
A 10-day notice to quit for non-payment of rent is used to inform the tenant that they haven’t paid their rent on time. They are given ten days from the date of the notice to pay the past due amount or vacate the property. This notice should clearly state how much money is owed as past due rent, how it must be paid (such as a cashier’s check or money order), and where it should be paid. This notice is governed by § 42-3.
Notice for Non-Compliance
In North Carolina, there is no pre-set amount of time that a landlord must give the tenant in an eviction notice if they are being evicted for violating the lease (aside from major violations and non-payment of rent previously discussed). The landlord should explain the violation that occurred and expressly mention how many days the tenant has to correct the issue. For more information, read § 42A-24(c) and § 42-26.
2-Day Lease Termination for Week-to-Week Tenancy
A lease termination for a week-to-week tenancy can be given by either the landlord or the tenant. It’s not an eviction notice per se, but it does inform the recipient that the sender of the notice doesn’t play to renew the week-to-week agreement. This notice gives two days for the property to be vacated (§ 42-14).
7-Day Lease Termination for Month-to-Month Tenancy
This particular lease termination ends a month-to-month tenancy. It can be created by either the landlord or the tenant. The recipient is informed that the property will be or should be vacated in seven days (§ 42-14).
Not all evictions are legal. All evictions must follow North Carolina landlord-tenant law. Landlords do not have to provide a set amount of time for eviction for non-compliance (outside of non-payment of rent or serious matters that we previously mentioned). Eviction notices must be legally served as well. Eviction notices must be served or the landlord may not file a lawsuit against the tenant.
Unless the landlord gets a court order from the judge, they may not remove the belongings of the tenant, change out the locks, or shut off the utilities to the rental property to essentially force the tenant from the property. These methods are known as self-help evictions. Using any of those methods without the permission of the court can give the tenant a legal claim against the landlord. The tenant may be entitled to financial compensation and to retain possession of the property.
Landlords may not evict someone for factors that are considered discriminatory or retaliatory in nature. Under federal law, discriminatory factors include someone’s actual or perceived skin color, race, religious beliefs, national origin, gender, disability, or family status (including pregnancy, birth, or adoption of a minor). Retaliatory eviction means that the landlord is trying to evict the tenant because the tenant reported the property or the landlord for unsafe conditions, uninhabitable conditions, or code violations. Illegal evictions may provide the tenant with the legal right to sue the landlord.
As a tenant, you have legal rights even during the eviction process. Depending on why you’re being evicted, you may have several defenses you can assert. The landlord is not required by law to give a certain amount of time if you’ve violated the lease in some way outside of late rent or serious violations (such as manufacturing drugs on the property or damaging the property). If you’re served with an eviction notice, read it carefully so that you understand what’s happening, what you need to do, and the deadline by which you should do whatever it is that you need to do.
We discussed illegal evictions in the section above. When the tenant is subjected to an illegal eviction, they may be entitled to sue the landlord. To know for sure whether you have a legal claim, you’ll have to take the time to talk with a landlord-tenant lawyer. They can evaluate your potential claim and let you know what options you have with regards to a potential lawsuit or the ongoing eviction. Sometimes, law schools have legal clinics that provide affordable or free help to the public. You can contact a law school in your general area and ask if they have an active clinic. You can also contact Legal Aid of North Carolina. In addition to perhaps qualifying for low-cost or free legal help, they provide several different resources that could be useful.
North Carolina landlords have rights and obligations under the law. Eviction notices must be legally served on the tenant. Without doing so, you cannot sue the tenant. For eviction notices for non-compliance to the lease (not involving late rent or serious violations such as property damage), there is no legally prescribed amount of time that a landlord must provide to the tenant in the notice. However, with non-payment of rent and serious non-compliance, landlords are obligated to follow the law.
Unless the landlord gets a court order, they may not lock out the tenant, remove their belongings from the property, or shut off the utilities. Self-help eviction is illegal. Landlords also may not engage in retaliatory eviction or evict a tenant because of discriminatory factors discussed under Legal Considerations. If a landlord engages in illegal conviction, they may be sued by the tenant for money.
To learn more about eviction notices, the eviction process, or your rights and obligations as a landlord, you should contact a landlord-tenant lawyer for an appointment.