Eviction: What Tenants Should Know

Authored By: Legal Aid of North Carolina

Quick Facts



Getting served with court papers: summons and complaint.

Service in person by sheriff’s deputy: if you were served the court papers in person (from the deputy’s hand to yours), the landlord ( LL) can get a judgment for back rent owed as well as possession of the residence.

Service by mail/papers tacked on your door: if you are not served in person and you do not appear at the hearing, the landlord will be granted possession of the residence but NOT a money judgment (you will still owe the money but, without a judgment, LL can’t collect on the judgment by having sheriff seize your property to sell it to satisfy the judgment)


IF YOU WON: Congratulations!

  • LL can file appeal within 10 days

  • You must still pay rent during the appeal period (directly to LL) unless magistrate says otherwise.


  • Deadline for appealing the decision is ten (10) days after the hearing, including weekends and holidays.

  • However, if the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, deadline is on the next business day.

  • Appeal is to district court, in front of a judge, to hear the entire case again.

  • If you appeal the decision, you will be able to stay in your home until your next hearing date as long as you continue to pay rent into the court on time each month.



  • Fill out 3 forms:

1. notice of appeal to district court

2. rent bond form: promise to pay rent at courthouse during appeal period

3. petition to appeal as indigent: to avoid $80 appeal costs

  • File appeal with the Clerk of Superior Court at your county courthouse, open 8:00 am-5:00 pm

  • Hand-deliver or mail copy of Notice of Appeal to LL on the same day you file appeal

  • You will not have to pay the $80 appeal costs if you fill out "Petition to Sue as Indigent" form and show the clerk your food stamp or SSI or TANF card, OR if you fill out an "Affidavit of Indigency" form.

  • Pay rent bond: NOT any amount past due, just rent AS IT COMES DUE.

  • 1st rent bond payment will be pro-rated amount, starting the day after the hearing through the end of the month; 1st payment due when you file the appeal

  • Pay rent bond to cashier at the courthouse.

  • Rent bond due on the 5th working day of each month. In your case, this amount is

  • Do NOT pay rent bond to LL! Pay ONLY at courthouse.

  • NO excuse for missing rent bond deadline, so DON’T wait until last day to pay, to avoid being padlocked out if your car breaks down, or your ride doesn’t show up, or your mother is in the hospital, etc.



  • You’ll have to pay the appeal costs at courthouse to file appeal.

  • You’ll also have to pay any back rent due at courthouse the time of the appeal, to stay in the home during the appeal period.

  • You’ll also have to pay ongoing rent bond at the courthouse as it accrues


IF YOU DON’T FILE AN APPEAL (or if you miss a rent bond payment)

  • You may be padlocked out within about a week of the appeal/payment deadline.

  • The sheriff will send you a notice in the mail stating the exact date and time of the padlocking.

  • You should remove all of your belongings from your residence before the padlock date.

  • If you still have belongings in the residence after the padlocking, you should contact your landlord immediately to make an appointment to get the remaining belongings.

  • There is a 7-day deadline from the date of the padlocking to get your things.

  • If you contact LL within the 7-day deadline, s/he is only obliged to give you one opportunity to retrieve your things; you should be sure that you are equipped and able to get everything at once, and that you have enough time and help to do so.

  • After 7-day period ends, LL can keep, sell, give away, or throw away your things.



  • Usually within two months of filing the appeal, you will receive a calendar in the mail with the date of your district court (appeal) hearing.

  • If you win, congratulations! Case is over; LL can still appeal to the Court of Appeals but most do not.

  • If you lose, you have 30 days to move before the landlord can order the sheriff to padlock the residence (unless the judge orders that it happen sooner).

  • Same padlocking time frame and process applies: you can get padlocked out within a week, and then will have seven days to get any remaining belongings out of the house.



  • Return the keys ASAP! You are responsible for rent until you turn keys in.

  • You should leave the premises clean and empty.

  • If your landlord has to clean up (beyond ordinary wear and tear) or remove any items or trash after you leave, he can charge you for his expenses.

  • LL’s expenses can be deducted from your security deposit, and he can charge you beyond that amount as well.

  • Before turning in the keys, take photos of each room to document its condition, in case you later need to dispute the landlord’s move-out charges. Have a friend assist you who can testify, if necessary, about the condition of the premises.

  • Give LL forwarding address to send your security deposit or an accounting of how it was spent. LL has 30 days to do so after you move out. If you dispute charges your LL has made to your security deposit, contact an attorney.



  1. Unfit conditions are not an excuse for nonpayment of rent! Take these steps instead:
  2. Put requests for repairs to LL in writing, date them, save copies for yourself
  3. Take photos/videotape footage to document the unfit conditions in your home
  4. If you have a Section 8 voucher, complain to your caseworker
  5. Call City or County Inspectors or Public Health Dept. to ask for an inspection of your home
  6. Contact an attorney for assistance
  7. Continue to pay your rent!



To find other Legal Aid of North Carolina materials, including any materials mentioned in this document, go to LawhelpNC.org/. If you need legal help please go to legalaidnc.org/.



Last Review and Update: Jul 31, 2014
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