Article 7.

Expedited Eviction of Drug Traffickers and Other Criminals.

42-59. Definitions.

As used in this Article:

(1) "Complete eviction" means the eviction and removal of a tenant and all members of the tenant's household.

(2) "Criminal activity" means (i) activity that would constitute a violation of G.S. 90-95 other than a violation of G.S. 90-95(a)(3), or a conspiracy to violate any provision of G.S. 90-95 other than G.S. 90-95(a)(3); or (ii) other criminal activity that threatens the health, safety, or right of peaceful enjoyment of the entire premises by other residents or employees of the landlord.

(3) "Entire premises" or "leased residential premises" means a house, building, mobile home, or apartment, whether publicly or privately owned, which is leased for residential purposes. These terms include the entire building or complex of buildings or mobile home park and all real property of any nature appurtenant thereto and used in connection therewith, including all individual rental units, streets, sidewalks, and common areas. These terms do not include a hotel, motel, or other guest house or part thereof rented to a transient guest.

(4) "Felony" means a criminal offense that constitutes a felony under North Carolina law.

(5) "Guest" means any natural person who has been given express or implied permission by a tenant, a member of the tenant's household, or another guest of the tenant to enter an individual rental unit or any portion of the entire premises.

(6) "Individual rental unit" means an apartment or individual dwelling or accommodation which is leased to a particular tenant, whether or not it is used or occupied or intended to be used or occupied by a single family or household.

(7) "Landlord" means a person, entity, corporation, or governmental authority or agency who or which owns, operates, or manages any leased residential premises.

(8) "Partial eviction" means the eviction and removal of specified persons from a leased residential premises.

(9) "Resident" means any natural person who lawfully resides in a leased residential premises who is not a signatory to a lease or otherwise has no contractual relationship to a landlord. The term includes members of the household of a tenant.

(10) "Tenant" means any natural person or entity who is a named party or signatory to a lease or rental agreement, and who occupies, resides in, or has a legal right to possess and use an individual rental unit. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-59.1. Statement of Public Policy.

The General Assembly recognizes that the residents of this State have the right to the peaceful, safe, and quiet enjoyment of their homes. The General Assembly further recognizes that these rights, as well as the health, safety, and welfare of residents, are often jeopardized by the criminal activity of other residents of rented residential property, but that landlords are often unable to remove those residents engaged in criminal activity. In order to ensure that residents of this State can have the peaceful, safe, and quiet enjoyment of their homes, the provisions of this Article are deemed to apply to all residential rental agreements in this State. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-60. Nature of actions and jurisdiction.

The causes of action established in this Article are civil actions to remove tenants or other persons from leased residential premises. These actions shall be brought in the district court of the county where the individual rental unit is located. If the plaintiff files the complaint as a small claim, the parties shall not be entitled to discovery from the magistrate. However, if such a case is filed originally in the district court or is appealed from the judgment of a magistrate for a new trial in the district court, all of the procedures and remedies in this Article shall be applicable. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-61. Standard of proof.

The civil causes of action established in this Article shall be proved by a preponderance of the evidence, except as otherwise expressly provided in G.S. 42-64. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-62. Parties.

(a) Who May Bring Action. - A civil action pursuant to this Article may be brought by the landlord of a leased residential premises, or the landlord's agent, as provided for in G.S. 1-57 of the General Statutes and in Article 3 of this Chapter.

(b) Defendants to the Action. - A civil action pursuant to this Article may be brought against any person within the jurisdiction of the court, including a tenant, adult or minor member of the tenant's household, guest, or resident of the leased residential premises. If any defendant's true name is unknown to the plaintiff, process may issue against the defendant under a fictitious name, stating it to be fictitious and adding an appropriate description sufficient to identify him or her.

(c) Notice to Defendants. - A complaint initiating an action pursuant to this Article shall be served in the same manner as serving complaints in civil actions pursuant to G.S. 1A-1, Rule 4 and G.S. 42-29. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-63. Remedies and judicial orders.

(a) Grounds for Complete Eviction. - Subject to the provisions of G.S. 42-64 and pursuant to G.S 42-68, the court shall order the immediate eviction of a tenant and all other residents of the tenant's individual unit where it finds that:

(1) Criminal activity has occurred on or within the individual rental unit leased to the tenant; or

(2) The individual rental unit leased to the tenant was used in any way in furtherance of or to promote criminal activity; or

(3) The tenant, any member of the tenant's household, or any guest has engaged in criminal activity on or in the immediate vicinity of any portion of the entire premises; or

(4) The tenant has given permission to or invited a person to return or reenter any portion of the entire premises, knowing that the person has been removed and barred from the entire premises pursuant to this Article or the reasonable rules and regulations of a publicly assisted landlord; or

(5) The tenant has failed to notify law enforcement or the landlord immediately upon learning that a person who has been removed and barred from the tenant's individual rental unit pursuant to this Article has returned to or reentered the tenant's individual rental unit.

(b) Grounds for Partial Eviction and Issuance of Removal Orders. - The court shall, subject to the provisions of G.S. 42-64, order the immediate removal from the entire premises of any person other than the tenant, including an adult or minor member of the tenant's household, where the court finds that such person has engaged in criminal activity on or in the immediate vicinity of any portion of the leased residential premises. Persons removed pursuant to this section shall be barred from returning to or reentering any portion of the entire premises.

(c) Conditional Eviction Orders Directed Against the Tenant. - Where the court finds that a member of the tenant's household or a guest of the tenant has engaged in criminal activity on or in the immediate vicinity of any portion of the leased residential premises, but such person has not been named as a party defendant, has not appeared in the action or otherwise has not been subjected to the jurisdiction of the court, a conditional eviction order issued pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be directed against the tenant, and shall provide that as an express condition of the tenancy, the tenant shall not give permission to or invite the barred person or persons to return to or reenter any portion of the entire premises. The tenant shall acknowledge in writing that the tenant understands the terms of the court's order, and that the tenant further understands that the failure to comply with the court's order will result in the mandatory termination of the tenancy pursuant to G.S. 42-68. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-64. Affirmative defense or exemption to a complete eviction.

(a) Affirmative Defense. - The court shall refrain from ordering the complete eviction of a tenant pursuant to G.S. 42-63(a) where the tenant has established that the tenant was not involved in the criminal activity and that:

(1) The tenant did not know or have reason to know that criminal activity was occurring or would likely occur on or within the individual rental unit, that the individual rental unit was used in any way in furtherance of or to promote criminal activity, or that any member of the tenant's household or any guest has engaged in criminal activity on or in the immediate vicinity of any portion of the entire premises; or

(2) The tenant had done everything that could reasonably be expected under the circumstances to prevent the commission of the criminal activity, such as requesting the landlord to remove the offending household member's name from the lease, reporting prior criminal activity to appropriate law enforcement authorities, seeking assistance from social service or counseling agencies, denying permission, if feasible, for the offending household member to reside in the unit, or seeking assistance from church or religious organizations.

Notwithstanding the court's denial of eviction of the tenant, if the plaintiff has proven that an evictable offense under G.S. 42-63 was committed by someone other than the tenant, the court shall order such other relief as the court deems appropriate to protect the interests of the landlord and neighbors of the tenant, including the partial eviction of the culpable household members pursuant to G.S. 42-63(b) and conditional eviction orders under G.S. 42-63(c).

(b) Subsequent Affirmative Defense to a Complete Eviction. - The affirmative defense set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall not be available to a tenant in a subsequent action brought pursuant to this Article unless the tenant can establish by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable person could have foreseen the occurrence of the subsequent criminal activity or that the tenant had done everything reasonably expected under the circumstances to prevent the commission of the second criminal activity.

(c) Exemption. - Where the grounds for a complete eviction have been established, the court shall order the eviction of the tenant unless, taking into account the circumstances of the criminal activity and the condition of the tenant, the court is clearly convinced that immediate eviction or removal would be a serious injustice, the prevention of which overrides the need to protect the rights, safety, and health of the other tenants and residents of the leased residential premises. The burden of proof for the exemption set forth shall be by clear and convincing evidence. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-65. Obstructing the execution or enforcement of a removal or eviction order.

Any person who knowingly violates any order issued pursuant to this Article or who knowingly interferes with, obstructs, impairs, or prevents any law enforcement officer from enforcing or executing any order issued pursuant to this Article, shall be subject to criminal contempt under Article 1 of Chapter 5A of the General Statutes. Nothing in this section shall be construed in any way to preclude or preempt prosecution for any other criminal offense. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-66. Motion to enforce eviction and removal orders.

(a) A motion to enforce an eviction or removal order issued pursuant to G.S. 42-63(b) or (c) shall be heard on an expedited basis and within 15 days of the service of the motion.

(b) Mandatory Eviction. - The court shall order the immediate eviction of the tenant where it finds that:

(1) The tenant has given permission to or invited any person removed or barred from the leased residential premises pursuant to this Article to return to or reenter any portion of the premises; or

(2) The tenant has failed to notify appropriate law enforcement authorities or the landlord immediately upon learning that any person who had been removed and barred pursuant to this Article has returned to or reentered the tenant's individual rental unit; or

(3) The tenant has otherwise knowingly violated an express term or condition of any order issued by court pursuant to this Article. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-67. Impermissible defense.

It shall not be a defense to an action brought pursuant to this Article that the criminal activity was an isolated incident or otherwise has not recurred. Nor is it a defense that the person who actually engaged in the criminal activity no longer resides in the tenant's individual rental unit. However, evidence of such facts may be admissible if offered to support affirmative defenses or grounds for an exemption pursuant to G.S. 42-64. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-68. Expedited proceedings.

Where the complaint is filed as a small claim, the expedited process for summary ejectment, as provided in Article 3 of this Chapter and Chapter 7A of the General Statutes, applies. Where the complaint is filed initially in the district court or a judgment by the magistrate is appealed to the district court, the procedure in G.S. 42-34(b) through (g), if applicable, and the following procedures apply:

(1) Expedited Hearing. - When a complaint is filed initiating an action pursuant to this Article, the court shall set the matter for a hearing which shall be held on an expedited basis and within the first term of court falling after 30 days from the service of the complaint on all defendants or from service of notice of appeal from a magistrate's judgment, unless either party obtains a continuance. However, where a defendant files a counterclaim, the court shall reset the trial for the first term of court falling after 30 days from the defendant's service of the counterclaim.

(2) Standards for Continuances. - The court shall not grant a continuance, nor shall it stay the civil proceedings pending the disposition of any related criminal proceedings, except as required to complete permitted discovery, to have the plaintiff reply to a counterclaim, or for compelling and extraordinary reasons or on application of the district attorney for good cause shown.

(3) When Presented. - The defendant in an action brought in district court pursuant to this Article shall serve an answer within 20 days after service of the summons and complaint, or within 20 days after service of the appeal to district court when the action was initially brought in small claims court. The plaintiff shall serve a reply to a counterclaim in the answer within 20 days after service of the answer.

(4) Extensions of Time for Filing. - The parties to an action brought pursuant to this Article shall not be entitled to an extension of time for completing an act required by subdivision (3) of this section, except for compelling and extraordinary reasons.

(5) Default. - A party to an action brought pursuant to this Article who fails to plead in accordance with the time periods in subdivision (3) of this section shall be subject to the provisions of G.S. 1A-1, Rule 55.

(6) Rules of Civil Procedure. - Unless otherwise provided for in this Article, G.S. 1A-1, the Rules of Civil Procedure, shall apply in the district court to all actions brought pursuant to this Article. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-69. Relation to criminal proceedings.

(a) Criminal Proceedings, Conviction, or Adjudication Not Required. - The fact that a criminal prosecution involving the criminal activity is not commenced or, if commenced, has not yet been concluded or has terminated without a conviction or adjudication of delinquency shall not preclude a civil action or the issuance of any order pursuant to this Article.

(b) Effect of Conviction or Adjudication. - Where a criminal prosecution involving the criminal activity results in a final criminal conviction or adjudication of delinquency, such adjudication or conviction shall be considered in the civil action as conclusive proof that the criminal activity occurred.

(c) Admissibility of Criminal Trial Recordings or Transcripts. - Any evidence or testimony admitted in the criminal proceeding, including recordings or transcripts of the adult or juvenile criminal proceedings, whether or not they have been transcribed, may be admitted in the civil action initiated pursuant to this Article.

(d) Use of Sealed Criminal Proceeding Records. - In the event that the evidence or records of a criminal proceeding which did not result in a conviction or adjudication of delinquency have been sealed by court order, the court in a civil action brought pursuant to this Article may order such evidence or records, whether or not they have been transcribed, to be unsealed if the court finds that such evidence or records would be relevant to the fair disposition of the civil action. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-70. Discovery.

(a) The parties to an action brought pursuant to this Article shall be entitled to conduct discovery, if the action is filed originally in or appealed to the district court, only in accordance with this section.

(b) Any defendant must initiate all discovery within the time allowed by this Article for the filing of an answer or counterclaim.

(c) The plaintiff must initiate all discovery within 20 days of service of an answer or counterclaim by a defendant.

(d) All parties served with interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions under G.S. 1A-1, Rules 33, 34, and 36 shall serve their responses within 20 days.

(e) Upon application by the plaintiff, or agreement of the parties, the court shall issue a preliminary injunction against all alleged illegal activity by the defendant or other identified parties who are residents of the individual rental unit or guests of defendants, pending the completion of discovery and any other wait before the trial has occurred. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-71. Protection of threatened witnesses or affiants.

If proof necessary to establish the grounds for eviction depends, in whole or in part, upon the affidavits or testimony of witnesses who are not peace officers, the court may, upon a showing of prior threats of violence or acts of violence by any defendant or any other person, issue orders to protect those witnesses, including the nondisclosure of the name, address, or any other information which may identify those witnesses. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-72. Availability of law enforcement resources to plaintiffs or potential plaintiffs.

A law enforcement agency may make available to any person or entity authorized to bring an action pursuant to this Article any police report or edited portion thereof, or forensic laboratory report or edited portion thereof, concerning criminal activity committed on or in the immediate vicinity of the leased residential premises. A law enforcement agency may also make any officer or officers available to testify as a fact witness or expert witness in a civil action brought pursuant to this Article. The agency shall not disclose such information where, in the agency's opinion, such disclosure would jeopardize an investigation, prosecution, or other proceeding, or where such disclosure would violate any federal or State statute. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-73. Collection of rent.

A landlord shall be entitled to collect rent due and owing with knowledge of any illegal acts that violate the provisions of this act without such collection constituting a waiver of the alleged defaults. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-74. Preliminary or emergency relief.

The district court shall have the authority at any time to issue a temporary restraining order, grant a preliminary injunction, or take such other actions as the court deems necessary to enjoin or prevent the commission of criminal activity on or in the immediate vicinity of leased residential premises, or otherwise to protect the rights and interests of all tenants and residents. A violation of any such duly issued order or preliminary relief shall subject the violator to civil or criminal contempt. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-75. Cumulative remedies.

The causes of action and remedies authorized by this Article shall be cumulative with each other and shall be in addition to, not in lieu of, any other causes of action or remedies which may be available at law or equity, including causes of action and remedies based on express provisions of the lease not contrary to this Article. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)

 

42-76. Civil immunity.

Any person or organization who, in good faith, institutes, participates in, or encourages a person or entity to institute or participate in a civil action brought pursuant to this Article, or who in good faith provides any information relied upon by any person or entity in instituting or participating in a civil action pursuant to this Article shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. Any such person or organization shall have the same immunity from civil liability with respect to testimony given in any judicial proceeding conducted pursuant to this Article. (1995, c. 419, s. 1.)