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How to Evict a Family Member in North Carolina

The family member rooming situation probably started out well. A couple of family members decided to become roommates to share expenses or a family member asked to move in because he or she needed a place to stay. Everything was great for awhile, but after time, things started to go downhill and now it's time for the family member to leave. Except he or she has decided to stay. So now what? How is a family member evicted in North Carolina?


Evicting a North Carolina Family Member Can Be Complicated

As living expenses rise, more family members are living together as a way to save money. As a result, more people are discovering that living with a family member is not all it's cracked up to be.


Some family member think it's okay to just stop sharing in expenses. Others want to party all night. In North Carolina, getting rid of an obnoxious family member, though, depends on a number of factors.

Is the Family Member on the Lease?

If a son, daughter, cousing or other family member is on the lease, then only the landlord has the authority to kick him or her out, but even a landlord needs a legally valid reason to throw someone out if that person is on the lease. These reasons usually include not paying rent, using the home for illegal purposes or otherwise breaking the terms of the lease in some way.

The exception to this is if a family member is threatening or violent toward others in the home. If this is the case, then a court can issue a restraining order and the family member must leave immediately.

Keep in mind that a family member on the lease is actually a co-tenant and has much right to live in the rental space as anyone else on the lease.

What to Do Now?

Unfortunately for people who live in North Carolina, options are limited if a family member is on the lease. Asking him or her to leave is an option, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict.

If the family member signed an agreement outlining rules of the house, everything from noise limits to cleaning duties and he or she breaks the agreement, then he or she probably cannot be evicted but can be sued for damages in small claims court.

Examples include a son or daughter having loud parties that prevent others in the home from getting work done or an uncle not paying his share of the utilities.

renters rights

While these situations could be grounds for suing, the risk with suing is angering the family member but not enough to make him or her move out.

Talking to the landlord to see if he can get the family member to budge might be an option, but most landlords are content to leave things be as long as they are getting their rent on time and their property is not being destroyed.

An exception would the landlord seeing that the family member is breaking the lease in some way, such as selling drugs from the home (illegal use of the property) or having a dog when pets are specifically forbidden in the lease.

This can be tricky, though, because the family member could claim that the dog belongs to everyone in the home and the landlord could decide to evict everyone all at once. In North Carolina, this is particularly true if a lease has a joint and/or several liability clause, which essentially means that all the tenants on a lease can be held responsible for what other tenants do.

The landlord might be a reasonable person (or corporation), though, and decide to evict only the family member. If this is the case, it will take some time. The landlord must follow the law, which involves giving the family member notice of the eviction and time to remedy the situation.


For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that the cousin has a cat and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then the landlord has to give the cousin adequate time to find the cat a new home. If the cousin does this, then he or she cannot be evicted. He or she can stay in the home and chances are he or she will not be a happy camper.

It is possible, too, that the family member may just ignore the eviction notice and decide to stay in the home. In this case, the landlord will have to go to court to ask a judge to tell the family member to go. If the judge agrees, then the sheriff will come to escort the family member out of the property. If, though, the landlord loses in court, then the family member can stay.

Things That Cannot Be Done with Regard to a North Carolina Family Member

No matter how oxnoxious a family roommate might be, there are things that the state of North Carolina cannot be done to make him or her vacate the home.

For example, he or she cannot be threatened and the locks cannot be changed to prevent his or her access to the property. His or her personal property cannot he stolen or hidden. If someone does these things, that individual might end up looking at criminal charges. No family member, even a problematic one, is worth that.

Is the Family Member Not on the Lease?

If the family member is not on the lease then there are more options for getting rid of him or her, although North Carolina does not make this easy.

And this is tricky, too. If a son, daughter, aunt or other family member is not on the lease because he or she came to stay without the landlord knowing, then others in addition to the family member might be breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.


If, though, the family member has the landlord's express or implicit permission - many landlords will let a family member stay in the home without signing the lease, or they will turn a blind eye to an extra tenant - then the family member can be evicted.

In North Carolina, there are, though, rules to follow. The family member must receive at least 30 days notice to move out. This notice must be put in writing and sent to the family member via certified mail to ensure that he or she receives it. A copy should be kept. Please verify the 30 day timeframe with a North Carolina attorney as eviction laws may change.


If the family member ignores the notice or thinks he or she has grounds to stay in the unit, then eviction papers known as "complaint in summary ejectment" will have to be filed in the local county small claims court, or in some cases, in the district court. The family member will receive a summons to appear in court for an eviction hearing. If the family member does not appear at the hearing, then the person initiating the eviction will automatically win the case.

If the family member does appear, then the evictor must be prepared to state his or her case clearly to the judge and present any and all relevant documentation. If he or she wins the case, the family member has 10 days to move out. If the evictor loses, he or she has 10 days to appeal. If he or she loses both the original case and the appeal, then he or she has to prepared to be stuck with the son, cousin, uncle, aunt or other family member and have to pay his or her legal costs.

If the landlord is aware of the family member and is a decent person or company, then he (or it) might help evict the family member. The downside with this that is the landlord - even a tolerant one - might just decide to evict everyone and start fresh. He would have legal grounds to do so if the family member is not on the lease because the lease has been broken by having the illegal tenant.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is evicting a family member in North Carolina is not easy. Evicting anyone anywhere is not easy, even for landlords with solid legal grounds. It is a complicated, contentious and often costly endeavor.

Get Help

Ask a North Carolina Eviction Law Question, Get an Answer ASAP!

If, though, it is time to evict a family member, then it is a good idea to talk to an experienced North Carolina eviction lawyer before proceeding. One small misstep could mean that the family member is not the only one having to look for a new home.



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