The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for the service of all Writs for Possession of Real Property within Guilford County. Listed below are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
- I am a landlord and I need legal advice about evicting someone can you help me decide what to do?
The Guilford County Sheriff's Office cannot provide legal advice. Landlord/tenant disputes are a civil matter. You may need to consult an attorney to fully understand your legal rights and remedies as a landlord.
- I am a landlord; can I change the locks on my rental property without involving the Sheriff's Office?
No, you should not. This would not be a legal eviction. There are specific General Statutes in the State of North Carolina that regulate the eviction process. A landlord must obtain a Court Order or Judgment (usually from a civil magistrate in Small Claims Court) to evict a tenant from rental property. The Sheriff, not the landlord, is the only one who can remove the tenant and/or his personal property from the rental premises. The landlord cannot force the tenant to move at any stage of the eviction process nor can he/she impede the tenant's ability to enter the premises except in order to maintain or repair the premises.
- I am a landlord, where do I need to go to file the paperwork to evict someone?
Start by filing a civil action in Small Claims (Magistrate's) Court. You can do so at the office of the Clerk of Superior Court at the Courthouse in Greensboro or High Point. The process begins with what is called the 'Summary Ejectment' action. The tenant must first be served by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office with a copy of the Magistrate's Summons and Complaint in Summary Ejectment. The Summons will state the date time and place for a court hearing. State statutes concerning the summary ejectment process are found in Chapter 42, Article 3 of the North Carolina General Statutes (beginning with § N.C. General Statute 42-26 and can be viewed on a number of websites on the internet).
- What happens at the hearing for the Summary Ejectment process?
A civil magistrate presides over the hearing. Both tenant and landlord have the opportunity to speak and present evidence at the hearing. As the landlord, you should be ready to provide the Magistrate with evidence about the lease or rental agreement with the tenant and be able to provided evidence showing how the tenant breached the lease or rental agreement (e.g., the tenant failed to pay rent). After the hearing the Magistrate will render a judgment for or against the landlord. If the Magistrate rules in favor of the landlord, the Magistrate will enter a written judgment for possession of the premises in favor of the landlord. The tenant has ten (10) days to appeal that judgment. Upon receiving a judgment for possession of the premises from the magistrate, and if the tenant does not appeal, the landlord may file for a Writ of Possession for Real Property after the ten (10) days has expired. The Writ of Possession is an order issued by the Clerk of Superior Court that orders the Sheriff to evict the tenant.
- As a landlord, can I go ahead with the eviction after I have filed for the Writ of Possession?
No, only a Sheriff or his/her Deputies may serve a Writ of Possession for Real Property. Upon receipt of the Writ of Possession for Real Property the Sheriff's Office will contact the landlord to schedule the date and time to serve the Writ and evict the tenant. The landlord or his agent will meet the deputy at the location in question. The landlord is responsible for supplying and changing the locks. The landlord is responsible for providing a means to gain entry into the premises so that a deputy can ensure that all occupants leave the premises to include removing any animals that may be inside at the time of the eviction.
- If there is personal property inside the premises when the locks are changed, can I dispose of it immediately?
No, not immediately. A tenant has seven (7) days to contact the landlord and set a time to retrieve all personal property. The Sheriff's Office does not assist in the retrieval of these items once the eviction has occurred. If the tenant has not claimed the property after seven (7) days, the landlord may dispose of the property but the Sheriff's Office cannot give the landlord any advice as to how that property may be disposed of. To protect himself or herself, a landlord should consult an attorney about that process.
- I am a landlord and I have an eviction schedule that I wish to cancel, can I do this?
As the landlord, you have the right to stop an eviction if you wish. Contact the Evictions Unit at (336) 641-3735 and also fax a Cancellation Request to (336) 641-7664. You must indicate why you are cancelling the eviction, i.e. defendant paid, moved out, or you worked out some other arrangement with the defendant. Once canceled, the writ will be returned to the clerk of court.