Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Court Fees for Evictions and Law Suits Starting July 1, 2011!

Justice gets a bit more expensive in North Carolina starting July 1, 2011.

New Fees:

Magistrate(eviction or small claims): $96

District Court(eviction appeals and collections above $5,000): $150

Endorsement of Original Summons and A & P Summonses: $15

Motions: $20

If you would like more information, the courts memo on fee changes can be found here, and the fee chart can be found here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


At the June 6 City of Durham Council Meeting the Council unanimously adopted a Pine Straw Ordinance.

The ordinance says that no pine straw or any other landscaping material with a fire rate of spread of more than 24 inches per minute shall be placed within 10 feet of buildings with combustible exterior construction. Town homes with common walls are included in this ordinance. One-and two-family dwellings are exempt from the ordinance which is consistent with the North Carolina Residential Building Code.

Starting July 1, 2011, businesses will be asked to come into compliance with the ordinance within 20 days. If a business experiences hardship with removing or distancing pine straw from the buildings, we are asking that they submit a letter to the Fire Prevention Division stating the need for the hardship request and a time frame for compliance with the ordinance.

For the possibility of a financial hardship(s) your property may have in getting the pine straw either moved farther away from the building (at least 10 feet) or having it removed, you should direct your written hardship to Assistant Fire Marshal Eddie Reid. His email address is or he can be reached at 919 -560-4233 ext. 19246.

For more information please visit City of Durham FAQ Pine Straw Ordinance.

Norm Praet, Esq.
North Carolina Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Congratulations to the Apartment Association of North Carolina, the Triangle Apartment Association, and all who supported the Residential Buildings Inspections Bill. On June 23, 2011, the Residential Inspections Bill, H 683 became law in North Carolina.

This bill was developed by the AANC in response to Raleigh's Probationary Rental Occupancy Ordinance, and other similar programs, that impose significant fees on landlords with little benefit to either the the landlords or tenants of North Carolina.

Key provisions of the law provide:

• A prohibition mandatory inspections/pre-occupancy inspections. The City of Durham made no attempt to hide the fact that they wanted a City-wide inspection program, and this law stops such proposals in their tracks.

• For many owner/operators, fees will drop by thousands of dollars per-property: only $50 for properties that have 20 or more rental units; $25.00 for properties that have 4 to 19 units; and $15 for properties with three or less units.

• Better yet, only cities with EXISTING registration programs can charge fees. At present, only the Town of Garner and City of Raleigh have such ordinances in place. Effective June 1, no other locality may create one -- another huge achievement!

Norm Praet, Esq.
North Carolina Landlord Tenant Lawyer

Sunday, June 19, 2011

FREE: Mr. Landlord to Speak at TREIA Meeting: Free to Members and Guests

Jeffrey Taylor, Mr. Landlord, is speaking at this month's Triangle Real Estate Investors Association Meeting on June 21. This event is free to members and guests and the details from TREIA are as follows:

TREIA Monthly Meeting - Mr. Landlord

How to Fill Any Vacancy in 72 Hours For Top Market Rent, in a Competitive Market

Eliminate your landlording headaches! Do far more than just survive as a landlord. Jeffrey Taylor will show you how to fill your vacancies fast, even in a competitive market!

With real estate prices still low and many former homeowners who will need to rent due to foreclosures and other financial and credit related issues, there may not be a better time to purchase income properties to hold long-term to rent or offer rent-to-own opportunities. For an inexperienced investor, what could be one of their greatest financial moves could become their biggest nightmare without professional guidance.

If you are currently managing rental properties, are a successful real estate investor, or if you’re considering becoming a landlord, then you won’t want to miss Jeffrey’s presentation. He’ll completely transform the way you see landlording.
Download Flyer

Speaker Information:

Jeffrey Taylor is known nationwide as “Mr. Landlord,” and has taught thousands of real estate investors, landlords and managers how to fill their vacancies in just 72 hours and keep residents for 6 years.

He’s the author of the bestselling books The Landlord's Survival Guide & The Landlord's Kit. He’s America’s #1 landlording coach, a successful landlord with over 25 years experience and founder of, home of the most visited landlord Q&A website in the nation for rental owners.

Date and Time
Start Date: 06/21/2011 Start Time: 6:00 PM
End Date: 06/21/2011 Approx. End Time: 9:00 PM
Registration Deadline: 06/21/2011 Meet Time: 6:30 AM

Event Leader
Keith Turnbull
Contact Leader
919876688 H
919-673-3454 M

Event Cost
Prepayment Required
Pricing Option Name Price Deadline
Members Free 06/21/2011
Guests Free 06/21/2011

Location (More Detail)
Event Location: Hilton - North Raleigh
Address: 3415 Wake Forest Road , Raleigh , NC 27609-7330
Directions: From the Beltline: Follow I-440 to Exit #10 (Wake Forest Rd). Make Left at light off exit, hotel is 1/4 North on the left.

Although you will still need advice for landlording in North Carolina, Mr. Landlord has a lot to offer! It is definitely worthwhile to check him out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Welcome Changes to the Homeowner/Homebuyer Protection Act

As many of you are probably aware, in 2010 a series of regulations was foisted on landlords who extended an option to purchase the rental property that they were leasing through a law known as the Homeowner and Homebuyer Protection Act, or SB 1015.

Well, it is now 2011 and the real estate investors are in a somewhat friendlier climate. Not sitting idly by, members of the Triangle Real Estate Investors Association and other NC REIA's have secured sponsorship of H654, revisions to the new Homeowner/Homebuyer Protection Act.

Some of the key provisions of the revisions to the Act include:

* Revising the definition of a lease agreement covered by the acts regulations to remove all leases that do not apply a portion of the rent to the option;

* Clarifies that a contract under which the potential purchaser is obligated to buy the property is not a covered option agreement;

* Clarifies that if the seller does not take any payments on the option prior to closing then a payment at closing does not create an equitable right of redemption;

* Allows an injured party to sue under the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act("UDTPA), but does not declare any violation of the Act an automatic violation of the UDTPA;

* The Act also makes some common sense changes to the requirements pertaining to Land Sale Contracts; and

* With respect to the so called "mortgage rescue scam protections" the Act provides that although a landlord who purchases a property from someone in foreclosure and allows them to remain as a tenant must obtain an appraisal on the property within 90 days of the purchase, he is no longer required to make sure the appraisal is delivered within 3 days of receipt.

This bill deserves your support.

Currently H 654 has passed through the House and is now in the Senate Commerce Committee. Please take some time and contact your local senators and members of the Senate Commerce Committee and let them know that you support H 654!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


How Recapture Works

It was a common stick and carrot method of encouraging compliance with your rules and it was included in very many leases. You give the tenant more favorable terms, such as reduced rent, if they follow the rules and pay on time. If the tenant at some point stops following the rules or paying on time you are entitled to reimbursement for all or a portion of the reduced rent returned to you. It is nice getting $25 taken off your rent each month, but it is very painful having to repay 10 months of the $25 concession at once.

This worked very well, for a while.

What Happened?

The State of North Carolina stepped in and once again inserted itself where it did not belong, in the landlord-tenant relationship. N.C. Gen Stat. 42-46 was passed setting maximum allowable fees by landlords. N.C. Gen. Stat. 42-46 provides:

(a) In all residential rental agreements in which a definite time for the payment of the rent is fixed, the parties may agree to a late fee not inconsistent with the provisions of this subsection, to be chargeable only if any rental payment is five days or more late. If the rent:

(1) Is due in monthly installments, a landlord may charge a late fee not to exceed fifteen dollars ($15.00) or five percent (5%) of the monthly rent, whichever is greater.

(2) Is due in weekly installments, a landlord may charge a late fee not to exceed four dollars ($4.00) or five percent (5%) of the weekly rent, whichever is greater.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with recapturing rent concessions.

Unfortunately the answer could be - everything. Due to the amounts in question there is not much case law interpreting North Carolina landlord tenant statutes. This means much of landlord tenant law in North Carolina is a role of the dice. There is currently a class action suit pending in Wake County asserting that recapture is a form of late fee and should be subject to the 5%/$15 set out above.

As you know, news tends to travel among tenants, and as soon as one brings a suit challenging this provision they will get others to join.

But wait, there's more.

It starts with Friday.

I usually like Fridays too but not in this case. In 2003 we learned from the North Carolina Court of Appeals that a "Landlord constituted a “debt collector,” as defined in the North Carolina Debt Collection Act (NCDCA), where landlord sought to recover past due rent and related charges", in Friday v. Union Dominion Realty Trust, Inc., 155 N.C.App. 671, 575 S.E.2d 532 (NC App. 2003). In Friday, the Court went on to hold that a violation of North Carolina's late fee law (NCGS 42-46) was also a violation of the Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA). This is bad news because violations of the UDTPA allow a court to award treble damages and the tenant's attorneys fees. Therefore, if recapture of previous rent concessions violates the late fee statute it is also probably violates the UDTPA.

So, if you could be subjecting yourself to treble damages and having to pay the tenant's attorney's fees, are those recapture provisions really worth it? You would probably be better advised to cancel a concession rate (i.e. the rent increases from $800 to market rate of $875 after the violation) rather than attempting to recapture previous months preferential rate difference.

The court has not yet ruled on the Wake County class action, and if it is like most cases, it may not get to because the case will settle. However, it is likely that Legal Services is aware of this case as are other tenant's attorneys, so this issue will probably come up again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Anti-Prop Bill Needs Your Help Now More Than Ever!

Today from the Triangle Apartment Association:

Dear Industry Leaders,
As some of you are aware, SB 683 was pulled from the committee meeting yesterday. Sen Hunt is looking to amend language to potentially compromise with the bill’s opposition. To what extend, we are unsure at this time however the article below states that Sen Hunt may change language to include the allowance of “reduced fees”. TAA strongly believes there is no benefit or service that is attached to the fee nor has there been any justification as to where the fees are going- the bottom line TAA believes any fee imposed is an additional tax burden placed on renters!

PLEASE contact Senator Hunt 919.733.5850 or & THANK him for his leadership on the bill & ask him to stay the course.

TAA is working on several things; rebuttal to the article below, letters to the editor, mobilizing members to contact Sen Hunt and TAA has contacted Sen Hunt’s office to get a quick meeting to share the last two years of Raleigh Rental Registration/enforcement data.

We need your HELP!! Please contact Senator Hunt & thank him for his leadership in sponsoring the bill and ask him to stay the course!! Please feel free to share with your groups and anyone that is impacted by this legislation!!

Thanks in advance for your immediate attention to this EXTREMELY important legislative initiative!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Showdown Thursday AM on Senate Bill 683, Residential Inspections - ANTI-PROP Bill!!

From our friends at the Triangle Apartment Association

Dear North Carolina Apartment Leader:

We are on the calendar in the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday at 11:00 for the Apartment Association-sponsored bill - Senate Bill 683 - that would curb random/mandatory/universal/systematic inspections of rental housing by municipal officials. We need you to contact the members of the N.C. Senate Commerce Committee - attached - and urge them to support the bill. Note that if this bill does not make it out of Committee, it cannot be considered by the full Senate.

**Owners & Operators in Raleigh & other localities that charge rental registration fees- this legislation will save you hundreds & in some cases thousands of dollars!!**

The Inspection Bill Talking Points are attached, and they should help you frame the issue - in your own words - in communicating with the Senate Committee Members. We favor Senate Bill 683 because it is what we stand for in delivering affordable and efficient housing. Our message is, "Inspections of sound housing are a waste of time and money."

* Please contact Senate Commerce Committee Members & ask them to Support Senate Bill 683.
* Tell the General Assembly Members that the apartment industry offers a much needed service by providing housing to citizens who, either by choice or other circumstances. may not want to or able to purchase a home. Local governments are forcing property owners to register rental units and in some cases submit to annual periodic inspections by government personnel in addition to requiring occupancy permits (PROP) at the discretion of governmental officials.
* Fees associated with these programs are usually far beyond the actual cost and only drive up the cost of affordable rental housing. Most local governments already have regulations on the books that address code issues and if existing laws were enforced, there would be no need for new rental regulations.

Please contact the Senators via phone or e-mail TODAY. If you have limited time please prioritize and contact the Triangle delegation committee members, those members are highlighted in yellow in the attached Senate Commerce Committee list. Leave a message with their Legislative Assistant. Parlay any relationships you may have with the Senators. Emphasize that you live in or have properties in their District. Please pass this alert on to as many apartment professionals as you can TODAY. The cities and housing advocates are mustering a campaign against the Bill, so we need to mount a strong, widespread industry blitz of support. Can we count on you? Thank you.

Legal Disclaimer

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Nothing in this blog shall create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the blogger and not of the PRAET LAW FIRM, PLLC.