Order Extend Protections for Tenants; Reaffirms Requirements for Landlords

In late December 2020, both President Trump and North Carolina Governor Cooper extended existing Orders providing protections to individuals at risk of eviction through January 31, 2021. As a result, eviction of some residential tenants for nonpayment of rent may continue to be halted during this time period.

However, protection from eviction is not automatic and relates only to situations involving nonpayment of rent. In order to receive relief from eviction, a tenant at risk for eviction for failure to pay rent must submit a Declaration under penalty of perjury that the tenant meets certain requirements. The Declaration must state that:

  1. The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  2. The individual either: (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 9or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return, (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the IRS, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  3. The individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses (which is defined as any unreimbursed medical expense likely to exceed 7.5% of one’s adjusted gross income for the year);
  4. The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
  5. Eviction would likely render the individual homeless – or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting – because the individual has no other available housing options.

Governor Cooper’s Order continues to enforce the landlord’s obligation to provide the CDC Declaration Form to residential tenants in any action for eviction that is commenced on or after October 30, 2020 through January 31, 2021. The landlord is further required to execute an Affidavit and present it to the court certifying that the landlord has provided the tenant with a blank copy of the Declaration. Only one Declaration per household must be provided to the landlord by the tenant, regardless of how many individuals reside in the unit or signed the lease agreement.

A landlord who receives the tenant’s Declaration must immediately notify the Court, and must submit a copy of the Declaration to the Court within five (5) days of receipt.

If the landlord believes the summary ejectment should proceed despite the filing of the Declaration, the landlord must submit a written response to the Court stating why the action should still proceed. A hearing will be held to determine whether the ejectment should proceed. If the summary ejectment is granted after the hearing, the landlord may move forward with obtaining a Writ of Possession.

If Court granted a landlord’s eviction action prior to October 30, 2020 and the landlord receives a tenant Declaration prior to obtaining a Writ of Possession, the landlord shall take no steps to request the Writ of Possession. However, the landlord may submit a response to the Declaration and a hearing will be held before the Court to determine whether the landlord may move forward.

A violation of this Executive Order may be subject to prosecution pursuant to NCGS 166A-19.30(d) and is punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

It is important to note that none of these Orders relieve any residential tenant from the obligation to pay rent or comply with any other terms of the lease agreement. The Orders do not protect tenants from eviction for other lease violations, including, but not limited to, criminal activity, actions threatening the health or safety of other tenants, or violating building codes or ordinances.

If you have questions about evictions in North Carolina, please contact Law Firm Carolinas to speak with one of our attorneys.

Click here to read the Executive Order: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO184-Evictions-Extension-and-Unemployment-Ins-Claims.pdf

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