How to Evict a Squatter in North Carolina

How to Evict a Squatter in North Carolina

Dealing with a squatter can be a frustrating and complicated situation for property owners in North Carolina. A squatter is an individual who occupies a property without the owner’s permission or legal right. While laws vary from state to state, this article will provide a general overview of the eviction process for squatters in North Carolina.

1. Determine the squatter’s status: It is essential to establish whether the person in question is a trespasser or a tenant. If the individual has no legal agreement or lease, they are considered a trespasser. However, if they have an active lease or agreement, they are considered a tenant.

2. Communicate with the squatter: Before taking any legal action, it is recommended to attempt communication with the squatter. Often, squatters may be unaware that they are in violation of the law or may have a legitimate reason for occupying the property. Communicating with them can help resolve the issue amicably.

3. File a police report: If the squatter refuses to vacate the property after being notified, it is advisable to file a police report. Inform the police that an individual is unlawfully occupying your property and provide evidence of your ownership. The police may assist in removing the squatter or advise you on the next steps.

4. Serve a written notice: In North Carolina, a written notice to quit is required before initiating an eviction lawsuit. The notice must specify the reason for eviction (trespassing or lease violation) and provide a deadline for the squatter to vacate the premises. It is recommended to send the notice via certified mail or hand-deliver it to ensure proof of delivery.

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5. Initiate an eviction lawsuit: If the squatter fails to vacate the property within the specified time frame, you can file an eviction lawsuit in the appropriate North Carolina court. It is advisable to consult with an attorney to ensure compliance with all legal requirements and to increase your chances of a successful eviction.

6. Attend the court hearing: Once the eviction lawsuit is filed, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both parties will have an opportunity to present their case. If the judge rules in your favor, they will issue an eviction order, and the squatter will be legally obligated to leave the property.

7. Enforce the eviction order: If the squatter still refuses to vacate the premises after the court’s eviction order, you can request the assistance of law enforcement to physically remove them. It is crucial to follow the proper legal procedures and not take matters into your own hands to avoid any potential liability.


1. Can I change the locks to prevent a squatter from entering?

No, changing the locks without going through the proper legal eviction process is illegal. It is essential to obtain a court order before removing a squatter from your property.

2. How long does the eviction process take in North Carolina?

The timeline for eviction varies depending on the circumstances and court availability. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to complete the eviction process.

3. Can I physically remove a squatter myself?

No, self-help evictions are illegal in North Carolina. You must obtain a court order and seek law enforcement’s assistance to remove a squatter from your property.

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4. What if the squatter claims to have a lease or rental agreement?

If the squatter provides a lease or rental agreement, you may need to consult an attorney to determine the validity of the document. If the lease is valid, you may need to go through the formal eviction process for tenants.

5. Can I charge the squatter for damages to the property?

Yes, you may seek damages in a separate lawsuit after the eviction process is complete. It is advisable to document any damages and consult with an attorney for proper legal guidance.

6. Can I evict a squatter during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The eviction process during the pandemic may have additional restrictions and requirements. It is crucial to stay updated on the current regulations and consult with an attorney for guidance.

7. What if the squatter claims adverse possession?

Adverse possession is a legal doctrine that allows someone to claim ownership of a property through continuous and open use. Consult with an attorney to understand the specific requirements for adverse possession in North Carolina and how to address this claim during the eviction process.

Dealing with a squatter can be a complicated and stressful situation. Following the proper legal procedures, seeking professional guidance, and maintaining open communication can help ensure a smoother eviction process.