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Lawyer: Greensboro Landlord Can't Evict Tenants

11:12 PM, Mar 15, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Some residents of two Greensboro apartment complexes were told they have six days to move out.

On Friday, 15 renters in the Flintwood Apartments and the apartments at Charles Place, found notices on their doors.

Ritta Singleton was one of them. She found the note as she was arriving home from the hospital.

The note on Singleton's door said, "your tenancy of the premises is terminated on 03/21/13."

It goes on to say, "I have chosen to terminate your tenancy for the following reason: You have not paid your rent for 2 or more months and or have no lease."

The landlord of the buildings, Daniel Davis, told WFMY News 2's Lauren Melvin that the the owner is selling the buildings and the new owner wants everyone who doesn't have a lease, or has fallen behind on their rent to get out.

So Davis gave the notices to 15 tenants, including Singleton.

"I'm just really disappointed. It's really disappointing. I mean, what can I do in six days? I'm on a fixed income. There's nothing I can do in six days," said Singleton.

Singleton has lived at Flintwood Apartments since January 15, 2013. She was current on her rent until March, and she has the receipts to prove it.

Singleton told the landlord she would need him to pick up her March rent check because she's been recovering from hip surgery. But she was never given a lease. Other tenants were in the same boat.

WFMY News 2 asked Attorney Edward Sharp, with Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc., if the landlord can evict Singleton and other tenants for not having a lease.

"Because she does not have a piece of paper does not mean she does not have a lease. If she paid money in exchange for the right to live in that property, she has a lease, it's just not a written lease," said Sharp.

On top of that, North Carolina law says the only people who can legally evict someone is the sheriff or sheriff's deputies.

The sheriff will only dispossess a tenant if there's a court order from a judge.

Sharp said the landlord can send a notice to tenants saying anything he wants, but legally, he can't enforce it.

"It's not, per se, against the law to send a notice saying you have to be out in six days, but you don't actually have to be out. We call that an 'invitation'." said Sharp.

WFMY News 2 spoke with Davis, the landlord, about Singleton's situation.

Davis said he'll allow her to stay, as long as she pays her March rent and provides the receipts of her previous payments for the new owner.

But according to Sharp, even if she didn't, she still has the right to appear in court before being evicted.

Sharp said if the landlord is attempting to do something illegal, such as cutting off the utilities, changing the locks on the doors or something else to get the tenants out, then the tenant should contact the sheriff's office.

WFMY News 2

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