The North Carolina General Assembly is moving rapidly to pass language that strips long-term residents of hotels, motels, RV parks, campgrounds, or other properties traditionally considered to be used for “transient occupancy” of rights afforded to them as long-term tenants. North Carolina courts have held that persons who live in these types of properties as their primary residence should be considered tenants and are thus entitled to protection under the state’s landlord/tenant laws (NCGS § 42-25.6) and can only be removed from the property through the required summary ejectment process (NCGS § 42-26).
House Bill 352 (Hotel Safety Issues) focuses exclusively on reversing this precedent by proposing to define “transient occupancy” as stays of less than 90 consecutive days. The concern among tenant rights advocates is that unscrupulous hotel owners could simply require tenants to move rooms and sign new contracts every 89 days to keep them from gaining access to their rights. HB 352 passed out of the House last week and is currently in the Senate Rules committee. However, this week the proposed “transient occupancy” definition of HB 352 was added to a Proposed Committee Substitute (PCS) of House Bill 366 (Regulatory Reform Act of 2021).
The passage of either of these bills (HB 352 or HB 366) would mean that tenants could be immediately removed for trespassing rather than given due process through an eviction proceeding, negatively impacting tenants already struggling with housing stability during a pandemic.
The justification from the hotel/travel industry is that hotel owners need to be able to rapidly remove tenants who engage in dangerous or illegal activity. However, existing criminal laws already give hotel owners this power. What these bills do is give hotel owners the right to immediately remove long-term residents who have turned to such accommodations because traditional rental housing is out of reach.
At a time when affordable permanent housing, as well as emergency housing, is already lacking, these bills only add to the crisis when so many are struggling to get back on their feet. North Carolinians need shelter, and the opportunity to be safe while they work to gain permanent housing. For more information on opportunities to advocate around these issues or joining our Advocates Circle please contact Adrienne Spinner at email@example.com.