Five years ago, you agreed to let your elderly aunt live in the spare bedroom of your North Carolina home. She contributed money toward her food and other expenses each month, was quiet and unobtrusive and you barely knew she was there. Then she began bringing home stray cats, collecting used newspapers and turning her TV volume up high as she became increasingly hard of hearing. You decide you can no longer bear it and want her to move out. However, the ability of a landlord or head of household to evict an occupant from a North Carolina home depends on meeting a number of requirements.
Primary Residence Law
According to federal law, an occupant who makes a place her "primary residence" for 30 days or more is officially a tenant, even in the absence of a lease agreement and fixed rental payments. Primary residence status is also determined by other factors, such as the mailing address for bills and correspondence, the address listed on tax returns, the occupant's car and voter registration address and the proximity to recreational and religious organizations of which the occupant is a member.
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In the case of a boyfriend-girlfriend, parent-child or other family relationship, if the occupant has the head of household's approval to live in his North Carolina home, the possibility to evict depends on the terms of the agreement. If no agreement exists, however, once the house guest has lived in the home for 30 days or more and can prove she has paid rent or contributed to the household, the law may consider the premises to be her primary residence and the landlord will need to obtain a court order to evict her.
Rental Agreement Act
The North Carolina Residential Rental Agreement Act specifies certain conditions for rental that cannot be superseded by a private written agreement, such as maintaining the safety of the premises. The law also recognizes that the relationship between the landlord and the tenant is subject to the terms of a private written lease agreement. It is beneficial therefore to have a written agreement with all occupants, even if they are not paying tenants.
Under North Carolina law, landlords may not change the locks at rental premises or stop the occupant from entering any other way, even if rental payments are in arrears. If a written agreement exists, however, the landlord has the right to specify certain rules, such as the number and type of pets allowed. The landlord can evict only in the case of a clear breach of the written contract, where the rental agreement stipulates the terms and conditions for eviction, including a written notice period. In all other cases, he must obtain a "summary ejectment" order from the court before he is able to evict the occupant.