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How to Evict a Roommate in North Carolina

Roommate situations usually start out well. A couple of friends decided to become roommates to share expenses or a friend asked to move in because he or she needed a place to stay. Everything was great for a while, but after time, things started to go downhill and now it's time for the roommate to leave. Except he or she has decided to stay. So now what? How is a roommate evicted in North Carolina?


Evicting a North Carolina Roommate Can Be Complicated

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


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

Is the Roommate on the Lease?

If the roommate is on the lease, then the only person who can evict him or her is the landlord, 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 the roommate is threatening or violent toward people in the home. If this is the case, then the court can issue a restraining order and the roommate must leave immediately.

Keep in mind that a roommate on the lease is actually a co-tenant and has much right to live in the rental space as the others on the lease.

What to Do Now?

Unfortunately for residents of North Carolina, options are limited if the roommate is on the lease. Nicely asking him or her to leave is one option, but this doesn't always work and can lead to more conflict.

If the roommate 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 can not be evicted but can be sued for damages in small claims court.

Examples might include the roommate having loud parties that prevent others from getting work done or the roommate not paying his or her share of the utilities.

renters rights

While these situations could be grounds for suing, the risk is that suing may anger the roommate but not enough to make him or her move out.

Talking to the landlord to see if he can get the roommate to budge is another 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 roommate is breaking the lease in some way, such as selling drugs from the home (illegal use of the property) or has a dog when pets are specifically forbidden in the lease.

This is a tricky area, though, because the roommate could claim that the dog belongs to everyone in the house and the landlord could decide to evict everyone. In North Carolina, this is particularly true if the 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 roommate. If this is the case, it will take some time. The landlord must follow the law, which involves giving the roommate notice of the eviction and time to remedy the situation.


For example, if the grounds for the eviction are that the roommate has a cat and pets are forbidden according to the lease, then the landlord has to give the roommate adequate time to find the cat a new home. If the roommate 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 roommate 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 roommate to go. If the judge agrees, then the sheriff will come to escort the roommate out of the property. If, though, the landlord loses in court, then the roommate can stay.

Things That Cannot Be Done with Regard to a North Carolina Roommate

No matter how annoying a roommate is, there are things that the state of North Carolina says cannot be legally 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 him or her from entering the home. The roommates personal property cannot be stolen. If any of this happens, the person doing it could be looking at criminal charges. No roommate is worth that.

Is the Roommate Not on the Lease?

If the roommate 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.

If the roommate is not on the lease because he or she came to stay without the landlord knowing, then the other people in the house might be the ones breaking the lease terms and end up facing eviction.


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

In North Carolina, there are, though, rules to follow. The roommate must receive at least 30 days notice to move out. This notice must be put in writing. It should be sent to the roommate via certified mail to ensure that he or she receives it. Please verify this timeframe with an attorney as it is subject to change as statutes change.


If the roommate 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 district court. The roommate will receive a summons to appear in court for an eviction hearing. If the roommate does not appear at the hearing, then the person filing the eviction papers will automatically win the case.

If the roommate does appear, then the person initiating the eviction must present his or her case clearly and present any and all relevant documentation. If the the roommate loses the case, then he or she has 10 days to move out. If he wins, then the person doing the evicting has 10 days to appeal. If the individual initiating the case loses both the original case and the appeal, then the people in the home should be prepared to be stuck with the roommate and have to pay his or her legal costs.

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

Bottom Line

The bottom line is evicting a roommate 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 roommate, then it is a good idea to talk to an experienced North Carolina eviction lawyer before proceeding. One small misstep could mean that the obnoxious roommate is not the only one having to look for a new home.



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