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Looking at state law surrounding the eviction of tenants suspected of criminal activity, P.3

In recent posts, we’ve been looking at the issue of eviction of tenants involved in criminal activity. We’ve noted that pursuing expedited eviction of such tenants is the most effective way of handling such situations, and that there are several types of eviction that may be pursued, each with its set of own requirements which must be met for an eviction action to be successful.

Last time, we mentioned a third type of expedited eviction, conditional eviction, which has the goal of evicting household members or guests of a tenant. The difference between partial eviction and conditional eviction, though, is that the latter is directed against the tenant, and orders the tenant to not give permission to the guest or household member to come onto the premises. A conditional eviction order allows a landlord to terminate the tenancy if the order is broken. 

With respect to compete convictions, there are certain legal defenses of which tenants should be aware/ First, though, it is important to point out that tenants may not avoid an eviction action simply because the criminal activity only occurred once or because the offending individual no longer lives at the unit. The only exception to this rule would be in complete conviction cases where the court determines that eviction would be a “serious injustice” which is not outweighed by the safety, welfare and rights of other tenants and residents on the premises.

A tenant would need to make this argument with “clear and convincing” evidence, which is a higher standard of proof than normal for civil cases. On this last point, it is also worth mentioning that the civil standard of proof, preponderance of the evidence, ordinarily applies in eviction proceedings. This means that a landlord only has to present evidence showing it is more likely than not that criminal activity has occurred on or within the unit or that other requirements have been met.

In our next post, we’ll wrap up this discussion and comment on the importance of working with an experienced attorney in eviction proceedings, whether you are a landlord or a tenant.

Source: North Carolina Statutes, § 42-59

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