What is a Self Help Eviction in North Carolina
A self-help eviction is an eviction in North Carolina is any measure that a landlord takes to unlawfully force a tenant to vacate a property.
While residential self-help eviction measures are illegal, the same doesn’t apply to commercial properties.
Commercial Property Self-Help Removals in North Carolina
As they relate to commercial properties, a landlord is not prohibited from using self-help measures, so long as the conduct of the landlord does not breach the peace.
In a commercial setting, the common self-help eviction measure is to lock the door (either by changing the locks, or with a physical padlock), and posting a notice not to enter the property.
Although not necessary for a commercial property self-help eviction, many commercial property landlords sometimes decide to go the eviction route, in order to prevent any tort claims from business owners.
Rental Property Self Help Evictions in North Carolina
Self-help evictions in North Carolina are illegal as they relate to residential property.
North Carolina General Statute 42-25.6 states, in relevant part, that:
It is the public policy of the State of North Carolina, in order to maintain the public peace, that a residential tenant shall be evicted, dispossessed or otherwise constructively or actually removed from his dwelling unit only in accordance with the procedure prescribed in Article 3 or Article 7 of this Chapter.
What this means is that you cannot remove the tenant from your rental property, whether actually or constructively, without going through the property way on how to evict a tenant in North Carolina, known as the summary ejectment process.
Can a Landlord Seize or Hold Property as a Self-Help Eviction in North Carolina?
No, you cannot take a tenant’s property as a means to entice them to move out of your rental.
Taking or seizing a tenant’s property, is another self-help eviction method in North Carolina that will end you up in hot water.
North Carolina General Statute 42-25.7 makes this clear, stating, in relevant part, that:
It is the public policy of the State of North Carolina that distress and distraint are prohibited and that landlords of residential rental property shall have rights concerning the personal property of their residential tenants only in accordance with [other sections of the North Carolina Landlord Tenant Act].
What this means is that you cannot take possession of a tenant’s property, or deny a tenant’s use of their property, until you have gone through the legal process to do so.
Can a Tenant Waive their Self Help Rights?
No. A landlord may not circumvent the legal process by way of the lease agreement, thereby having a tenant waive their rights.
The laws against self-help evictions in North Carolina are based in public policy law, rather than contract law. What this means is that you cannot contract around the law, unlike many other provisions of the North Carolina Landlord Tenant Act.
What Actions Are Considered Self-Help Measures in North Carolina?
There are many things that are considered self-help eviction measures in North Carolina, the biggest of which is changing the locks, or padlocking the door.
Generally, any measure that denies access.
While these are pretty straight forward, there are other self-help eviction measures that courts will consider violate North Carolina law. These actions taken by the landlord are what is called a Constructive Eviction.
What is a Constructive Eviction
A constructive eviction is when the landlord infringes on the tenant’s use and enjoyment of the rental property, to a degree as to essentially stop the tenant the benefits of the property.
Some examples that are prevalent in self-help evictions in North Carolina include:
- turning off water in a rental property;
- turning off electricity in a rental property;
- removing appliances from the rental property;
- refusing to do essential repairs because of nonpayment of rent;
- or any other measure which decreases the tenant’s ability to enjoy the use of the premises.
Further, landlords who mislead tenants into believing that the tenant is being subjected to a lawsuit can be seen as engaging in unlawful self-help eviction measures in North Carolina.
Can a Tenant Sue a Landlord Who Violated the Self Help Law?
In accordance with North Carolina General Statute 42-25.9(a), a tenant who is the victim of self-help eviction measures in North Carolina may recover damages from the landlord.
By way of an example, a landlord who uses a self-help eviction method by locking a tenant out, could be liable for the cost of:
1. The tenant having to find emergency lodging such as a hotel;
2. Reasonable costs related to finding a new place to live, including rental deposits, moving costs, and any other usual costs related to relocating;
3. The difference in the rental rate for the new housing, for the period of the previous rental period;
4. Any damages to the tenant’s property that resulted from the self-help eviction in North Carolina. Damages don’t only include physical damage, but could also be calculated from the loss of use of the tenant’s property;
5. Treble damages could also be awarded. Treble damages mean that a tenant can recover triple the cost, or amount of damages, from you as a landlord; and
6. The tenant may also recover attorney fees.
Your best bet as a landlord, is to make sure you follow completely, the process on how to evict a tenant in North Carolina.
You can read our in depth blog about How to Evict a Tenant in North Carolina at the link below. We also provide you with a guide, as well as all the resources you need to get started.
Wrapping Up Self-Help Evictions
As you can see, self-help evictions in North Carolina are a way for you to end up in hot water.
While the eviction process is one way to eliminate your concerns about legally getting rid of a problemed tenant, there are other ways to remove your tenant from the process quickly, and legally.
One method is to think about offering your tenant Cash for Keys. This method allows you to pay the tenant some money, in exchange for the tenant vacating the property.
READ: What is Cash for Keys
At Linchpin Property Management, we are fortunate to have a CEO who is a retired military lawyer, and licensed North Carolina attorney. In such light, you can rest assured that your property interest will be protected.
If you have any questions, or want to find out how we can help you effectively manage your property, don’t hesitate to contact us.
We are here to help.
The Team at Linchpin Property Management.
The Pain in The Butt Disclaimer:
As always, information on this website is not intended to constitute legal advice, or the retention of our property management services, and is for general information purposes only.
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