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Evicting Commercial Tenants

  • January 15, 2001

Do you want to evict a tenant who has breached its lease? You should check your lease first because you may not be able to evict a tenant just because it breached the lease. In North Carolina, courts will not allow a landlord to evict a tenant based only upon the tenant’s breach of a lease. To evict a tenant in North Carolina, a landlord’s lease must specifically allow for termination of the tenant’s right to possession, termination of the lease estate, or termination of the lease when a tenant breaches the lease. Absent such a provision in a lease, a landlord may be precluded from evicting a tenant despite a tenant’s breach of the terms of the a lease.

Consequently, landlords should be very mindful of the potential difficulties with evictions and should take the following steps to ensure that they preserve their rights with respect to a commercial tenant who defaults under the terms of a lease:

1. When entering into a lease with a tenant, the landlord must ensure that the lease provides that the landlord has the right to re-enter the property and/or that a tenant forfeits its right to possession of the property upon the breach of the terms of the lease;

2. The landlord should strictly comply with all notice provisions required under the lease or by statute prior to attempting to evict a tenant;

3. The landlord should document any alleged breaches of the lease by the tenant and should provide written notice to the tenant of any such breaches in order to provide “clear proof” of the tenant’s breach in an ejectment action; and

4. The landlord should act promptly after the tenant breaches the lease to exercise its right of eviction if it intends to evict the tenant. Landlords often hurt themselves in court by waiting weeks or months before trying to evict a tenant.

Obviously, a number of other issues could arise when attempting to evict a tenant for breaching its lease. However, by following the points listed above, a landlord can help reduce the chance that it will encounter unexpected roadblocks when trying to evict a tenant who has breached its lease.