Last week I got a call from a colleague of mine that is in the property management business. I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was not happy.
He had just finished arguing an eviction case in front of a magistrate. The magistrate dismissed the case. The reason for the dismissal, the wording on his Pay or Quit letter was incorrect. The magistrate’s ruling stopped the eviction process.
To restart the process, he has to refile paperwork, repay fees, schedule a new court date, and attend a new hearing. While he is waiting for the hearing, the tenant is living rent-free in the property.
What Does the Law Say
North Carolina General Statue 42-3 Term Forfeited for nonpayment of rent states:
In all verbal or written leases of real property of any kind in which is fixed a definite time for the payment of the rent reserved therein, there shall be implied a forfeiture of the term upon failure to pay the rent within 10 days after a demand is made by the lessor or his agent on said lessee for all past-due rent, and the lessor may forthwith enter and dispossess the tenant without having declared such forfeiture or reserved the right of reentry in the lease. (1919, c. 34; C.S., s. 2343; 2001-502, s. 2; 2004-143, s. 1.)
Pay or Quit Letter
The ten days don’t start until you send the tenant a Pay or Quit Letter. Make sure that your letter includes the following six parts:
1. Current Date
2. Name of all tenant or tenants on the lease.
3. Address of the tenant or tenants.
4. Clearly, state that the tenant or tenants have ten days to fulfill their obligation to pay the rent or be evicted. Make sure that you enter the full amount of past-due rent owed by the tenant. Itemize each amount by month.
5. Include a final due date for all unpaid rent.
6. Your signature and date on the letter.
Make sure that you wait the full ten days before you file the Complaint In Summary Ejectment with the Clerk of Court.
The court system has specific procedures for filing an eviction case. Failure to properly follow the process will result in aggravation, loss of time and will cost you money.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, and I am not engaged in rendering legal advice or other professional services. Everyone’s real-world situation is different, and you should check with the proper professionals if you have any questions.