Eviction is a process that allows a landlord to remove a tenant from the rental property. If it’s not handled correctly, it can be very complicated, costly, and time consuming. That’s why we’re talking to you today – to give you some information that may make it easier on you as a landlord.
Understand that we’re not attorneys and this information is not legal advice. We recommend that you contact an attorney if you need legal advice on evictions.
Some of the most commonly asked questions we hear are:
- How do you evict a tenant?
- What is the time frame for evicting a tenant?
- What are the fees associated with evicting a tenant?
There are two main reasons for eviction. First, the tenant doesn’t leave at the termination of a lease. We call this a holdover tenant. The second reason is when the tenant doesn’t follow the terms of the lease. This includes not paying rent, criminal activity, damaging the property, unauthorized occupants or pets, or the tenants are disturbing the neighbors.
Timelines can vary due to individual circumstances and how backlogged the court or sheriff is. Let’s assume rent is due on the first of the month and considered late on the fifth of the month. The landlord sends a 10 Day Notice of Demand to the tenant. It can be delivered personally, posted on the door, or sent via certified mail or email. The 10 day period can be waived in advance by a special clause in your lease. However, the courts seem to favor allowing a tenant at least a five day grace period to cure the problem. So, the best practice would be to wait until at least the sixth day to file the official complaint with the court.
Assuming the tenant fails to pay the balance within the grace period and your lease provides for waiving the 10 day notice period, you find yourself on Day Six. You’ll go to the courthouse and file a Complaint and Summary Ejectment. Fees will vary, but the general cost is $96 for the filing, and $30 per defendant. Make sure all the signed leases are listed as defendants on the complaint, or you’ll have delays. After about 7 to 10 business days, your case will be heard. If you win, you’ll get a Judgment for Possession. This isn’t final because the tenant still has 10 days to appeal.
This takes us to Day 25. The appeal period has ended, and there are a few scenarios that may be happening. If the tenant doesn’t file an appeal and moves out on their own, you’re done. In the second scenario, the tenant will not file an appeal but will not move out. If this happens, file a Writ of Possession, which notifies the sheriff. Within 7 to 10 days of the Writ being issued, they will meet you at the property. You can change the locks and gain access. Don’t remove anything from the property, however. Place a notification on the property and wait another 7 days for tenants to retrieve their belongings from the property at a reasonable hour.
It’s now Day 42. You’ve already met the sheriff and you’ve already changed the locks. You’ve allowed the tenants to retrieve their belonging. At this point, you can take possession of the property and the process is complete. If the tenants left anything behind, you can remove it from the property. Use common sense, however. Document what you remove with pictures and consult legal counsel if the contents exceed $750.
In another scenario, the tenants can file an appeal and you could be involved in this eviction for 60 or even 90 days. This will take you to a hearing in the district court, and you could wait between four and six weeks for that hearing date. If the ruling is in your favor, you file the Writ of Possession. Don’t accept rent from the tenant at this point. The tenant will have to pay rent to the clerk instead.
Here’s a shortcut. If the tenant doesn’t pay the clerk of court the rent within 8 days, you can file the Writ of Possession before the court date, which will save you some time. At that point, the eviction process is complete.
Eviction Help from Professionals
The tenant can always appeal, but it’s not common or an easy process. If your property is owned by an entity like a corporation or an LLC, you must have an attorney assist you in district court. This will cost between $200 and $600, and usually includes court costs.
The best way to avoid evictions is by hiring a diligent Charlotte property management company that does rigorous screenings. Then, you’ll be less likely to run into any problems with your tenant and the lease terms. If you must evict, your property manager and an attorney can oversee the process for you, which will ensure the matter is handled correctly and precisely. This will save you money and alleviate a lot of stress.