Today, we’re talking about evictions and why landlords typically lose eviction cases, particularly in Mecklenburg County. Many of these things will pertain to other counties in North Carolina as well.
We routinely receive calls from self-managing landlords who are having problems evicting tenants. Typically, this is because tenants know more about the process than the landlord. Professional tenants will always prefer to rent from an individual homeowner instead of a professional property manager because they know the individual homeowner has other things going on and won’t be able to drop everything and go to court to file eviction paperwork or document everything the way it needs to be done. Do your background checks before you rent to any tenant.
Improper Filing of Notices
The number one reason that landlords lose evictions is because they are not filling out the required notices or paperwork properly. In North Carolina, you have to provide a 10 Day Notice to your tenant before an eviction is filed unless your lease waives this notice. Many leases available on the Internet do not have this clause included, but a professionally written lease will have a clause that waives the notice requirement. When you are required to provide notice, it has to be in a specific format with specific wording or the case will be thrown out.
We also see a number of evictions dismissed just because the landlord doesn’t have the proper documentation. When you show up in court, have copies of all the notices you’ve provided, copies of correspondence to and from the tenant, receipts for repair work, a copy of your lease and your ledger which shows payment history. In court, the Magistrate will want to see all those things. Make sure the ledger is easily readable and very clear. Cases have been thrown out because the ledger was difficult to read and the Magistrate couldn’t see that the tenant paid some months but not others.
Probably the most frustrating scenario for a landlord is when they do everything properly and then the tenant shows up with a complaint that is either true or made up, and the landlord doesn’t have any documentation or way to prove otherwise. We have seen cases thrown out because a tenant claims there is no smoke alarm in the home, and the landlord is certain that a smoke detector was there before the tenant moved in, but cannot prove it. Tenants have had evictions thrown out after making claims of mold. Make sure you have documentation related to the condition of the property. If there are any maintenance or repair requests, have copies of those and proof that you’ve dealt with them.
How to Win an Eviction
First, make sure you’re obeying all the laws. If you’re breaking a law knowingly or unknowingly, it’s likely your case will get thrown out. For example, you cannot charge late fees in excess of state law, you cannot charge NSF fees in excess of the law and you cannot change the locks on the property. Second, hire a reputable eviction attorney. Eviction attorneys will be well worth the money. You could also hire a property management company to manage the home through this process.
These scenarios get very complicated, and each one is unique. Make sure you’re taking care of them the right way. If you have any questions at all, or you need help with an eviction, please contact us at Alarca Realty and Property Management.