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North Carolina General Legal Blog

Do you really need a power of attorney? What does it do?

No one knows what the future holds, and this uncertainty spurs many people to take as many precautions as they can. One way to prepare is to devise an estate plan that will take care of loved ones if the unthinkable should happen. While it is a good idea to take measures to protect and provide for your family if you pass away, you may also want to consider taking steps to protect and provide for yourself.

If you suffer from a serious injury or illness, you may not be able to make decisions for yourself, even temporarily. If that happens, who would you want making critical choices regarding your health and finances during this time? You have the power to choose who will do that and under what circumstances now, while you are healthy, but it will be too late to do so once you are incapacitated.

When might you need to consider a change order on your project?

Deciding to build from the ground up can be an exciting and frightening experience at the same time. When you enter into a contract with a construction company, you hope you cover as many aspects of the process as possible.

However, there are sometimes circumstances you cannot predict, and your contract needs to address how you will handle them. In some situations, you may need a change order to address the issue.

Protect your business when employees suffer work-related injuries

Of course, you want to do what you can to keep your employees safe, but you also know that working in the construction industry comes with numerous serious and potentially fatal hazards. You expect at least some injuries to occur while hoping that everyone goes home safe and sound at the end of the workday.

North Carolina law requires you to carry workers' compensation insurance if you have at least three employees, but as with any insurance, you would probably feel better never having to use it. However, the situation may not be as easy as simply filing a claim and moving on. An employee may attempt to file a lawsuit against you after suffering injuries, and the best time to avoid this eventuality is before the injury even occurs.

A landlord's responsibility to maintain a unit

One of the potential benefits of renting an apartment in North Carolina is that the landlord is responsible for maintaining it. For instance, a landlord could be required to replace carpets that are stained, torn or have reached the end of their useful lives. Typically, carpets used in rental units are expected to last for about five years. Residents who have pets are often expected to put up with stains or other imperfections their carpets may have.

Ideally, a carpet will be replaced or cleaned before a new tenant moves in. This reduces the chances that a new tenant will get sick or injured while walking on a dirty or torn carpet. In many cases, landlords will partner with pest control companies to minimize the chances of an infestation. If a pipe or faucet is leaking, it may be possible to take care of the problem within a day or two.

What to know about evictions

Renters in North Carolina generally have rights that prevent landlords from evicting them without cause. Tenants who receive an eviction notice will typically have the opportunity to remedy whatever problem that led to the notice being sent. For instance, an individual may be allowed to get current on rental payments or relocate an animal that isn't supposed to live with the tenant. However, there are circumstances in which a tenant can send an unconditional quit notice.

This means that the landlord will not work with the tenant to resolve the issue. These can typically only be sent if a tenant has failed to pay rent multiple times or has willfully violated the terms of the lease on several occasions. This type of notice could also be sent if a person is engaging in illegal behavior or has damaged the property that he or she is living in.

Contract problems can delay construction projects

Developers and construction companies in North Carolina and around the country sign an extensive array of contracts when preparing for an upcoming project. However, disputes can still arise, especially if cost overruns, project delays or other problems threaten to delay a project. If these disputes lead to litigation, the construction project may be delayed even further and the parties may face greater expenses. Therefore, resolving construction disputes and devising contractual provisions to deal with problems are often major priorities.

In order to resolve contract disputes more quickly or avoid them altogether, it may be important to understand the reasons for the problems that can derail projects. In the United States, an average construction dispute on a major project may cost $16.3 million. These issues may stretch out projects over even longer timelines, with the average dispute taking around 15 months to resolve. In many cases, construction disputes arise because one party fails to live up to its contractual responsibilities. In other cases, the contract itself was insufficient, with little clear mechanism for resolution. When there are issues over contract administration, one or more parties may not even understand their responsibilities.

What contractors should know about subcontractor insurance

It isn't uncommon for subcontractors to be used on residential and commercial building projects in North Carolina. While using subcontractors may be an effective way to get a job done in a timely manner, it could introduce additional layers of risk to the general contractor. However, it can be possible for contractors to transfer that risk to the subcontractor. This can be done through the use of indemnity provisions that require the subcontractor to assume liability for any damages it causes.

If a subcontractor delegates a task to another person or company, it may use these provisions as well. These types of clauses typically require a subcontractor to defend the contractor in the event that an issue arises. The subcontractor may also be required to purchase insurance that helps to pay for any damages the contractor incurs because of a subcontractor's negligence.

Landlord retaliation is often illegal

North Carolina tenants typically have rights under state law that landlords must respect at all times. Generally speaking, it is illegal for a landlord to take action against a tenant who is acting within those rights. For instance, a landlord couldn't evict a tenant simply for complaining about a broken pipe or asking that other types of repairs be made. Furthermore, tenants could potentially withhold some or all of a rental payment if they paid to fix issues on their own.

It is important to note that a tenant would likely need to show that an attempt was made to allow the landlord to remedy the situation. Landlords are also forbidden from raising rent, refusing to renew a lease or not taking action to remedy a problem simply because a tenant engaged in a protected activity. Tenants are also typically protected from retaliation if they complain to a government agency about their living conditions.

How to properly evict a tenant

Landlords in North Carolina and most other states generally have to follow a process to remove tenants from their properties. Providing an eviction notice is usually the first step in the process of doing so. An eviction could stem from a failure to pay rent, for damaging property or for taking other actions that violate the terms of a valid lease. A tenant could have the opportunity to rectify any issue cited in the eviction notice.

For instance, he or she may be given an opportunity to pay back rent or to otherwise come back into compliance with the lease. However, landlords could be able to respond to lease violations with unconditional quit notices depending on the type and severity of the lease violation. An unconditional quit notice might be issued when a tenant fails to pay rent or seriously damages a rental unit. Tenants may decide that they want to dispute the eviction in court.

Leases may have flexible or fixed lengths

Those who want to rent property in North Carolina will likely need to sign a lease. Leases may either come with a fixed term or be renewed on a monthly basis. If the lease does not have a fixed term, it can be changed or terminated at any time by the tenant or landlord. A tenant who chooses to terminate a written lease must notify the landlord before moving out in accordance with the lease. Typically, 30 or 60 days' notice is required for either party to terminate the lease after the end of the initial lease term.

If a tenant obtains a lease that has a fixed term, he or she is liable for paying rent for the entire term. A tenant who breaks the lease could be required to pay for the months that he or she does not pay rent.

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