Evictions and Foreclosures

Part of Tenant Right's Handbook

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Reasons You Can Be Evicted Eviction Process Eviction Fees Security Deposit Foreclosures

Your landlord is bound by the lease and cannot require you to move out before your lease term has ended. 

They may not take action on their own to force you to move such as:

  • Turning off your electricity or water; or
  • Changing your locks. 

Such acts are illegal under North Carolina law.

Reasons You Can Be Evicted

The reasons the landlord can ask to have you removed include: 

  • If the term of your lease is up.
  • If you have failed to pay rent when due.
  • If you have broken a condition contained in your lease (such as no pets, or no extra occupants).
  • If you commit a criminal act involving drugs or that otherwise interferes with your neighbors. The landlord must provide proof. At the hearing, you can state any facts in your favor, including having other people testify and presenting documents, photographs, or other evidence to the magistrate for their consideration. 

If you show that you did not do the criminal activity yourself or that your landlord accepted your current rent or if you bring to court all the rent money you owe plus court costs, you may be able to win the eviction court case.

Protections for victims of sexual assault and stalking
A landlord cannot evict you, decide not to renew your lease, or otherwise retaliate against you or a household member if you are a victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. 

Eviction Process

If your landlord has the legal right under the lease to ask you to move out, and you do not leave, your landlord may file a court eviction action to force you to move out. This action, called a “summary ejectment ” is heard before a civil Magistrate.

  • Landlord Complaint: The action is started by the landlord filing a “complaint.”
  • Summons: You will be notified in writing of the time and date of the hearing by a document called a “summons.”
  • Hearing:
    • You must appear at the designated date and time to present any defenses you have to the landlord’s claims. The landlord can ask at the hearing for possession of his or her unit back and for any money  owed him or her.
    • If you have legal claims against the landlord once they have filed a Complaint for Summary Ejectment, you may bring them up at the Small Claims hearing. This must be done in writing. As described above, you would need to write the claim and facts supporting your claim clearly and legibly, and then sign and date your document.  A tenant might also seek a “rent rebate,” as explained above, due to the landlord’s failure to make other necessary repairs.
  • Decision: After hearing from both sides in the case, the Magistrate will issue a decision and, unless appealed by either side within 10 calendar days, it will become final. 
  • Move or Appeal: If magistrate’s decision was not in your favor and do not appeal, you will receive a letter from the sheriff stating when you must move. If you are  not out of the unit by the date indicated, you will be locked out of the unit by the sheriff and you will have only 10 additional days to remove your belongings.

Eviction Fees

Tenants may, with some exceptions, be required to pay the following fees related to eviction actions:

Complaint Filing Fee. A lease may allow a complaint filing fee of $15 or 5%  of the monthly rent, whichever is greater, if a tenant is in default of the lease, the landlord filed and served a Complaint for Summary Ejectment or Money Owed, the tenant cured the default, and the landlord dismissed the case prior to any judgment or court decision being issued.

Court Appearance Fee. A lease may allow a court appearance fee of 10% of the monthly rent if the tenant is in default of the lease, the landlord filed and served a Complaint for Summary Ejectment or Money Owed, landlord wins in small claims court, and neither party appeals the case.
Second Trial Fee.

A lease may allow a second trial fee of 12% of the monthly rent for a new trial following an appeal of the Magistrate’s judgment. To qualify for this fee, the landlord must prove the tenant was in default of the lease and the landlord prevailed.

A landlord may claim only one of these fees in connection to an action for ejectment or money owed, and the fees may not be deducted from future rental payments. If a tenant receives a rent subsidy through the Section 8 program, only the tenant’s share of the rental payment may be used to determine the amount of the fee.

Security Deposit

Your landlord may apply your security deposit to certain costs, including unpaid rent or damage you caused to the unit beyond normal wear and tear. If he does so, he or she must explain in writing what costs he or she has paid with funds from the deposit. Be sure and leave your new address with him.

If the landlord does not return your deposit or notify you of the costs he has deducted from your deposit, you may file legal action against him or her. You may file such an action using the Complaint for Money Owed, in Small Claims Court.


Sometimes a landlord does not pay the mortgage on the rental property and the property goes into foreclosure.

Foreclosure can result in the rental housing being sold by whoever holds the mortgage, usually a bank. You have certain rights regarding notice of the foreclosure sale, termination of the lease and right to stay after the sale based on the type of housing you are renting.

Single Family Homes Rentals

Type of Housing   Tenant Rights  Conditions  Purchaser Obligation 
Single-Family Home Rental   

A Notice of Foreclosure Sale must be mailed to the tenant at least 20 days before the sale.

The Tenant has the right to end the lease after receiving the Notice of Foreclosure Sale by giving the landlord written notice. The notice for the end of the lease is effective at least 10 days, but not more than 90 days, after the date of the Notice of Foreclosure Sale.


In order for you to be able to remain at the property, the following three conditions must be met:

  • There must be a written lease;
  • Amount of rent must not be substantially below fair market rent, unless rent is subsidized; and
  • The tenant cannot be the child, parent, or spouse of the person who lost the property to foreclosure.
  • If the lease is oral, terminable at will, or if the property will be the purchaser’s primary residence, then the purchaser must give the tenant at least 90 days’ written notice to vacate before obtaining a Writ of Possession to evict the tenant.

The Purchaser at the foreclosure sale must allow the tenant to stay at the property until either the end of the existing lease term or one year from the date the purchaser acquires “title” (legal ownership of the property)whichever is sooner. 

The purchaser is not required to renew the lease. At the end of the lease term or one year, the purchaser must give 10 days’ notice before obtaining a Writ of Possession to evict the tenant.

Multi-Family Rentals

Type  Tenant Rights  Purchaser Obligation
Less than 15 units 

Notice of foreclosure sale shall be mailed to the tenant at least 20 days prior to the sale. The tenant has right to terminate the lease after receiving notice of foreclosure sale by giving landlord written notice effective at least 10 days, but not more than 90 days, after the date of the notice of sale.

Purchaser of foreclosed property must give 10 days’ notice to tenant before obtaining order of possession from Clerk of Court.
More than 15 units    Purchaser of foreclosed property must give 30 days’ notice to tenant before obtaining order of possession from Clerk of Court. (G.S. 45-21.29(k)(5)) – No other notice required.


Housing and Neighborhoods
Service Categories:
Affordable Housing
Board, Commission or Committee:
Fair Housing Hearing Board
Related Services:
Tenants' Rights Handbook