CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Southern Comfort Inn on Tuckaseegee Road in northwest Charlotte is sending some people who live there letters, giving them anywhere from seven to ten days to get out.
Aisha Johnson has lived at the motel for about two years.
She showed Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke one of those letters, telling her to pay $3,000 or leave in seven days -- which is Friday.
She said she paid often until the pandemic. But the motel's general manager told Stoogenke that’s not true. She said Johnson hasn’t paid for more than a year and a half, but that she tries to work with people who owe money so she didn’t try to evict Johnson until now.
"I’m going to stay. I’m going to stay," Johnson said. But, she said, some of her neighbors facing eviction are packing their bags. "Because the memo that [the motel] gives the guests, it’s kind of threatening. If you just read it right, correctly, it’s like it’s a threatening letter."
Legally, landlords need a court order to evict tenants. And the courts aren’t hearing eviction cases until June 21 at the earliest. In Mecklenburg County’s case, the court isn't hearing those trials until July 1 at the earliest.
Plus, one of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s executive orders says landlords have to give tenants at least six months to pay rent.
Even though the Southern Comfort Inn is a motel -- and the people staying there are "guests," not "renters" -- many lawyers believe they still have the same rights as tenants if the motel is their home. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has even been sending hotels and motels a warning letter, telling them "evicting these individuals without a court order may constitute violations of North Carolina’s landlord-tenant and consumer protection laws."
The Southern Comfort Inn told Stoogenke it knows it may not be able to evict anyone right now, but wants to make sure it gives them written notice so the business can follow through when the courts start hearing the cases again.
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