Smithfield couple threatened with eviction despite Governor's order to halt evictions

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) -- While there is an executive order issued by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to stop court proceedings when it comes to evictions and foreclosures here in the state, that doesn't stop landlords from filing eviction paperwork, which is catching tenants off guard.

Aaron and Jennifer Friedman have lived in their Smithfield rental for the last four years but recently fell behind on their rent. Their landlord put a typed note on their door letting them know they had to be out within 30 days.

"We were behind a week, and that's when we got the letter on the door. Basically, a handwritten note that we were getting evicted in 30 days," Aaron said.
The eviction note was put on the Friedman's door before North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper ordered a halt to evictions. Still, regardless of the typed note, it is not the legal way to evict a tenant in North Carolina. When the couple did not get out within the 30 days of the typed eviction note, the landlord then shut off the power.

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"They shut off our power, and when the deputy from the Sheriff's office asked them to turn it back on, they adamantly refused to do it.," Jennifer said. "So they advised us to go ahead and turn the power on in our name, which we did, and then when we were gone that day, they came and took the breaker, and the sheriff's office came back out and told them you need the breaker back.

Once the Friedmans put the power bill in their name, the landlord did eventually put the breaker back, and they now have power in their rental. The couple claims they tried to pay their landlord the rent money owed to catch up and stay in their home.

"They told us they don't want any money from us; they just want us out."

The landlord says the Friedman's now owe more than $1,000 in back rent and said they didn't file the eviction paperwork with the courts at first because the couple agreed to move out. When that didn't happen, they shut off the power as they wanted the bill out of their name. Now that the light bill is in the Friedman's name, the landlord has filed the proper eviction paperwork with the courts and has a hearing set for June 24.

The Friedmans say they are trying to get out.

"We are looking for another place, but again it's really hard with the pandemic," Jennifer said.

If you're having trouble paying rent, don't just stop paying it. You need to reach out to your landlord and try to reach an agreement. Just because there's a halt to evictions right now, doesn't give you the right to stop paying your rent. If your landlord is trying to evict you during this time, you can file complaints with Legal Aid and the NC Attorney General's Office.

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