Tag: small claims
  • Issues with Assistance Animals in Summary Ejectment Cases

    Both federal and North Carolina fair housing laws make it unlawful for a housing provider to refuse to make a reasonable accommodation that a person with a disability may need to have an equal opportunity to enjoy and use a dwelling. (42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq., G.S. Ch. 41A.) On January 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued FHEO Notice: 2020-01, hereinafter the “Assistance Animal Notice,” to provide guidance about how to assess a request to have an assistance animal in rental housing as a reasonable accommodation under the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). The Assistance Animal Notice was a response to the rising number of complaints about the denial of reasonable accommodations for assistance animals and concerns about individuals with disabilities wasting their money on so-called “certificates” for assistance animals sold by websites that are not providing health care services by legitimate, licensed health care professionals to the individuals.

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  • Only One Bite at the Apple – and Small Claims Court Counts!

    The NC Court of Appeals recently answered a question I’ve long wondered about in Brown v. Patel, 2021-NCCOA-342 (20 July 2021). Although this lawsuit started out as a bedbug case – which is definitely on my list of interesting topics! – it ended up being about what happens when a magistrate doesn’t make a decision. Read on for the riveting details!

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  • My Last Post on the CDC Eviction Moratorium, Almost for Certain

    Readers are probably aware that the CDC Eviction Moratorium has been extended until July 31, accompanied for the first time by a statement that it is unlikely to be further extended. However, the Governor’s Executive Order 171 was not extended and so expired on June 30. I’ve received many questions from judicial officials and other occupants of Landlord-Tenant Land about what the law of summary ejectment looks like for July.  For a summary of both the CDC Order and EO 171, I encourage you to read my prior blog post, in which I discuss both orders separately. That post should be helpful in making clear what law continues to apply (i.e., the CDC Order) and what law is no longer in effect (i.e., EO 171). In this memo, I’m offering a few specific observations in response to the most frequent questions I’ve been getting.

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  • Summary Ejectment in the time of COVID, Part 2: The CDC Order and EO 171

    Over the last several months, both federal and state governments have issued orders, effective until December 31, placing temporary restrictions on residential evictions. As everyone knows, many tenants have lost their jobs and thus their ability to pay the rent when it’s due. At a time when Stay Home! signs are everywhere, billboards are a common sight, the prospect of large numbers of tenants either moving in with relatives or friends or becoming homeless raises serious public health concerns. The result has been a hodgepodge of emergency measures enacted by local, state, and federal governments. The interpretation and implementation of these measures has, not surprisingly, been challenging for the court system.

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  • Summary Ejectment in the Time of COVID, Part 1: The CARES Act  

    If you are a judicial official hearing summary ejectment actions right now, you have plenty to be confused about. I’ve recently received a number of inquiries from you asking why you’re still receiving CARES Act affidavits (CVM-207), since the eviction moratorium imposed by the Act expired in late July. The short answer is that the affidavit may contain useful information which continues to be relevant to your disposition of an SE case. In this blog post, I’ll explain what that information is and what you should do with it.

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  • Summary Ejectment: Will the CARES Act Solve the Backlog Problem?

    On June 2 Chief Justice Beasley’s order continuing pending actions – including actions for summary ejectment – will expire. While that expiration date may be extended, it seems more likely that small claims magistrates will once again be hearing cases after that date, albeit under quite different conditions.

    In this post  am going to talk in considerable detail about a new federal law that affects eviction cases in North Carolina (and every other state). This law establishes an eviction moratorium and new notice requirements on two different types of “covered properties:” housing subsidized by participation in a federal assistance program, and housing financed by a federally-backed mortgage loan. Significant questions exist about how these provisions should be applied in North Carolina’s courts.

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  • Small Claims Appeals in Summary Ejectment Cases

    In Small Claims Land there are so many questions about appeals for trial de novo that I could write a book – if only I knew the answers. Ba-dum-bum-CHING! In light of my limited mastery of a mysterious topic, a blog post seems like a better idea than a book. Today I’m going to talk about five possible endings in district court when a summary ejectment case is appealed. Certainly, there are more than five, so this list is not exhaustive. My hope is that at least one of them will be informative for you.

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  • Venue, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, and Summary Ejectment

    I’m writing today about a seemingly simple question: When a tenant lives in one county and rental property is located in a different county, where should a summary ejectment action be filed?  Obviously, most summary ejectment actions involve a tenant who resides ON the rental property, but this is not always the situation. Sometimes, tenants have vacated residential rental property and moved to a new county. Also, in non-residential leases, tenants quite often live in a different county. After researching and thinking about this issue at considerable length, I’ve come to a new and different understanding of the law relevant to this question, which I want to share with you today.

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  • Summary Ejectment Roundtable

    On June 14, approximately 30 people – including yours truly – participated in a Statewide Roundtable on Summary Ejectment jointly sponsored by AOC and the Bolch Judicial Institute. Participants included representatives from Legal Services, the private bar, the Duke Civil Justice Clinic, the N.C. Justice Center, and other non-profits, along with magistrates, clerks, district court judges, and AOC staff. Not surprisingly, the training and performance of small claims magistrates was one of several areas of focus, and that discussion was wide-ranging and free-flowing. My topic today is an extremely cherry-picked list of five procedural errors participants mentioned having encountered in summary ejectment actions. These are anecdotal reports, and I do not have the sense that most of them are common errors. (I sure hope not!) But when they occur, they are serious errors, and so I want to address them. Here goes. . .

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  •  A Lease or a License?

    Every small claims magistrate knows that a “simple landlord-tenant relationship” is a jurisdictional requirement in summary ejectment actions. In most cases the existence of such a relationship is quite clear, but that’s not always so. When the property in question is something other than a home or business, questions sometimes arise. For example, what if an agreement involves a boat slip? A stall at a flea market? A horse stall in a stable? A chair in a beauty salon? In these situations and countless others, the legal issue is whether the agreement between the parties should be characterized as a lease or a license.

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