Evictions In North Carolina Will Start On June 21. Here’s What You Need To Know.
Cassidy Chansirik Student at U.C. Berkeley
mastersenaiper from Pixabay
Financial experts say you shouldn’t spend more than one-third of your monthly income on rent.
Many renters in North Carolina spend far more than that. In a study conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies, 21.8% of North Carolinians who live in a rental unit, more than 50% of their income is used to pay rent.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate in North Carolina has increased to 12.2%.
Evictions in North Carolina were set to start again in early June, but on May 30th, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a three-week, statewide moratorium. That expires June 21.
But that is just a few weeks away.
Many renters in North Carolina may suddenly find themselves asking: If I am unemployed and am unable to pay for rent, can I be evicted?
We’ve got answers.
I thought that the federal government said there won’t be evictions until July. Why is North Carolina different?
On March 27, 2020, the federal government passed the CARES Act. This placed a 120-day moratorium on evictions for “covered dwellings,” which means that your landlord cannot evict you for nonpayment of rent or charge you late fees because of nonpayment of rent until July 25, 2020.
Under the CARES Act, a “covered dwelling” is considered to be any of the following:
- Public housing
- Housing Choice Vouchers
- Section-8 Rental Assistance
- Rural housing programs
- Low Income Housing Tax Credit
- A housing program covered by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
- A federally backed mortgage loan
- A federally backed multifamily mortgage loan
However, 30% of loans are privately owned and are not backed by a federal agency. This means that if your landlord has a privately-owned loan or a loan that is not backed by a federal agency, you can still be evicted.
Therefore, many states released their own guidelines on eviction, such as Governor Cooper’s May 30th order.
What does the new order mean?
Executive Order 142 places a moratorium on evictions for both residential and commercial tenants. Until June 20, 2020, landlords are prohibited from doing the following:
- Initiating or furthering eviction proceedings
- Terminating a lease if the only reason for termination is because of a late payment or nonpayment of rent due to the pandemic
- Collecting interest, fees, or other penalties for late payment or nonpayment of rent
- Collecting interest, fees, or other penalties for existing late fees
Under this executive order, residential and commercial tenants are still responsible for paying their rent. Landlords must give tenants until December 21, 2020 to pay back any outstanding rent that became due when this order went into effect.
It’s important to know that this order does not prevent evictions for reasons other than late payment or nonpayment of rent because of the pandemic. You can be evicted for reasons related to health and safety. For commercial tenants, your landlord can evict you for nonpayment of rent not caused by COVID-19.
Are there any additional emergency orders in place in North Carolina?
After Governor Cooper issued his order, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley of the North Carolina Supreme Court issued the following emergency orders on May 30, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- All pending evictions in trial courts will halt until June 21, 2020.
- Sheriffs are not required to execute writs of possession until the end of June.
- The deadline for filing a notice of appeal, i.e. the tenant’s response to eviction notices, has been extended to June 30.
- A new mediation program will be created for summary ejectments to help low-income tenants settle pending evictions with their landlords.
What happens after June 21?
Once the Executive Order and three emergency orders expire on June 21, 2020, you can be evicted.
What is the eviction process in North Carolina?
1. Landlords must first notify the tenant to move out by a specific date. This is known as the notice to vacate. The number of days’ notice tenants receive depends on their lease and the reason for termination of the lease.
For nonpayment of rent, 10 days’ notice is required.
2. Landlords must then go to court to file Summary Ejectment papers. A copy of what was filed must be given to the tenant by a third-party. This is usually done by a sheriff and is known as service.
The copy of papers received by the tenant will state the reason for eviction, and when and where the court hearing will take place. If the reason for eviction is nonpayment of rent, the tenant can halt the eviction by offering the rent owed during the hearing.
3. After the judge makes a decision at the hearing, the landlord or tenant can file for an appeal.
This appeal must be filed within 10 days after the decision has been made. You can find more about the appeals procedure in North Carolina here.
4. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord during the hearing and the tenant does not successfully file for an appeal, the tenant must move out by the specified date in the writ of possession.
If the tenant does not move out by the specified date, the sheriff may padlock the rental unit.
5. Once the unit has been padlocked, the tenant has 7 days to contact the landlord to move out any belongings. After 7 days, the landlord can dispose of any belongings in the unit.
Does my landlord still have to fix things that are broken even if I haven’t paid rent?
Under North Carolina law, tenants are not allowed to withhold rent payments because the landlord has not made needed repairs.
Landlords must continue to make repairs if the issue makes the unit uninhabitable, i.e. major plumbing problems.
How will eviction affect my credit?
Eviction can negatively affect your credit. Eviction case records are not sealed in North Carolina and your landlord can report missing or late rent payments to credit agencies.
Can my landlord use my security deposit to cover any rent I didn’t pay?
Yes. Under the Tenant Security Deposit Act, your landlord can use your security deposit to cover any unpaid rent. However, this can only occur after the landlord files for summary ejectment.
If the landlord successfully evicts you, your security deposit can be used to cover any unpaid rent, physical damage to the property, or other remaining costs. If there are any remaining costs that your security deposit does not cover, you will be held liable.
During this pandemic, it’s important to know your rights as a tenant in North Carolina. If you would like to find out more information about rent relief, feel free to check out our resource page. If you have any more questions, please reach out to us for assistance.