Revision of Open Letter from Richard Stikeleather on Court of Appeals Decision
NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS REVERSES MECKLENBURG COUNTY SMALL CLAIMS COURT DECISION HAVING EFFECT STATEWIDE
N.C. COURT OF APPEALS NO. COA 14-1136 STIKELEATHER v. BROADWAY
The North Carolina Court of Appeals has reversed a Mecklenburg County Small Claims Court decision against Stikeleather Realty & Investments Co. The ruling in Small Claims Court awarded tenant damages, rent abatement and attorney’s fees, for not having a carbon monoxide and smoke detector in a rental unit.
The NC Court of Appeals ruled that by itself, the fact that a detector is not in the property, does not make the property unfit. In the past, Small Claims Court Magistrates have abated rent, awarded tenant damages, and their attorney’s fees, just because a tenant claimed otherwise; even when the landlord had evidence proving the contrary.
Legal Aid of NC has now asked the N.C. Court of Appeals to review their decision. Legal Aid is against this common sense ruling. The NC Court of Appeals decision is fair and in accordance with State Law. The N. C. Court of Appeals decision will correct the injustices of rulings in the past. This decision will also give clear guidance for rulings in the future.
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are required by North Carolina law to be in all rental units. It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure a detector is in each rental unit at the execution of a lease. It is the landlord’s responsibility to replace a detector if it fails to operate property. This is mandated by a N. C. Statute and should not be a Small Claims Court Magistrate’s decision.
Stikeleather Realty & Investments Co.