How Do I Evict A Tenant - Law Plus Plus (Law++) - Durham North Carolina

How do I evict a tenant? Sometimes you need to evict someone. It’s not a great position to be in, but it happens.

First and foremost, it is almost always better to work things out with your tenant ahead of time.

Additionally, a few dollars spent doing a credit and background check ahead of time can eliminate many of your problems down the road.

Breach of Lease

A landlord may not evict a tenant unless the tenant is in breach of the lease. The most common type of breach is unpaid rent. However, a tenant can be in breach for many different types of provisions. For example, your tenant can breach the lease by having a pet they weren’t authorized to have.

Notice of Eviction

First, a landlord has to provide notice to the tenant that they are behind on their rent or otherwise in breach of the lease agreement. In North Carolina, renters have a 5 day right to cure any unpaid rent. After that, landlords may file for summary ejectment with the small claims court in the county of the rental property.

Filing of Summary Ejectment

If you’re filing for summary ejectment, you need to visit Chapter 42 of the North Carolina General Statutes. Summary ejectment can be filed against any regular tenant in North Carolina. However, it does not apply to tenants in a unique situation. For example, summary ejectment is not available for leases with an option to buy, vacation rentals, or motel guests.


NCGS § 42-29 governs the delivery of the summons. It’s slightly complicated, but the end result is that an officer of the court, usually a sheriff, will deliver or cause the summons to be delivered before the date the answer is due.

Each of these steps happens very quickly. Therefore, the summons has to be delivered to the sheriff by the end of the next business day so their office can effectuate service.

Court Date

Once the complaint is filed, summons delivered, and the time for answering has expired, there’s a court date. In court, the magistrate will ask a couple of questions in any case.

  1. Who are the parties?
  2. Why was the summary ejectment filed?
  3. Are you asking for money judgment or just ejectment?
  4. If past due rent, when was the last time rent was timely paid?
  5. (Directed towards defendant) Was there a reason rent wasn’t timely paid?

Under North Carolina law, if there was even $1 in unpaid rent, the summary ejectment is granted.

Most landlords ask the court solely for ejectment. This is because they know their tenants likely have no assets that are easily obtained. Additionally, in order to get a money judgment, the defendant has to be served personally. Otherwise, the plaintiff can simply post notice of ejectment on the property itself.


Under North Carolina law, you are not allowed to help yourself to a client’s assets or to evict them. To do this properly, you need to go through the sheriff’s office. For ejectment, the sheriff will provide notice to the tenant that the locks will be changed and then work with the landlord to change them after that time period.

If the tenant stays in the property past the padlock notice period, he or she may be arrested for trespass.

For money judgments, you provide the judgment to the sheriff and the location of any assets you know of. Collections are hard with tenants because most do not have substantial assets. The easiest asset to collect against is always a house. Even if you know of the location of assets belonging to your tenant, they can still claim certain exemptions which may hinder your ability to collect.


If you’d like to discuss your options when it comes to evicting a tenant, we would love to help. Please contact us at or call 919-912-9640.


The information on this website is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Any information is meant strictly for legal educational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

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