The very short answer to this question is no. A landlord with tenants should never evict a tenant without getting a court involved. The public policy of North Carolina is that to maintain social order, residential tenants can only be evicted from their place of living by the plan of action laid out within N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42-25.6. These procedures urge the landowner to seek an action for eviction from the court to remove a tenant from their property. If a landowner forcibly removes a tenant from the tenant’s residential property, the landowner could be held liable for their actions by a court.
Forced removal can mean more than knocking down a door or forcibly dragging a tenant from their residence. For example, courts in North Carolina have found that when a landowner puts a lock on a tenant’s door when the tenant is away and the tenant returns and requests to enter their residence, noncompliance from the landowner could put them in the classification of forcible prevention or forcible “removal”. This would be considered self-help, and in North Carolina, self-help is not generally allowed when considering residential property.
As a tenant, it is important to be aware that simply because a landlord cannot use self-help practices to force out a tenant, does not mean that a tenant is safe from eviction. If the landlord takes the eviction to court and persuades the court that the eviction is proper, a tenant will be evicted. This is why both sides need to be represented in an eviction scenario.
If, as a tenant, you think your landlord is wrongfully attempting to evict you, you may be right. In North Carolina, there are several defenses to eviction. One of these is the defense of retaliatory eviction, as laid out in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42-37.1. This defense protects tenants who attempt to exercise their right to safe and sanitary housing. Therefore, a landlord cannot evict simply for requesting repairs, complaining to a government agency, or attempting to organize or join an organization that promotes or enforces tenants’ rights. It is important to note that if a tenant attempts to exercise this defense, a court may still find in favor of eviction if the tenant has withheld rent or caused the source of their complaint for unsafe or unsanitary housing.
This falls in line with the no self-help rule for landlords. Similarly, tenants are not allowed to employ “self-help” and withhold rent from a landlord even if the landlord has breached the implied warranty of habitability. The implied warranty of habitability refers to a law that requires a landlord to supply the tenant with safe and sanitary property (the exact requirements can be found here: N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42-42).
In situations where a landlord believes they have the right to evict or a tenant believes they should no longer be required to pay rent, it is a wise decision to employ the help of professionals. This will ensure that even if your inclination was right, you don’t end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively, and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. If you have a current conflict with your landlord or tenant, contact King Law at 888-748-KING (5464) for a consultation. We have offices located across western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina. We are here to serve you and to guide you as we navigate this journey together.