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Raleigh Housing Authority v. Winston

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

September 17, 2019

RALEIGH HOUSING AUTHORITY, Plaintiff,
v.
PATRICIA WINSTON, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 22 May 2019.

          Appeal by defendant from order entered 26 June 2018 by Judge Michael Denning in Wake County District Court. No. 18 CVD 5405

          The Francis Law Firm, PLLC, by Charles T. Francis and Ruth A. Sheehan, for plaintiff-appellee.

          Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc., by Thomas Holderness, Daniel J. Dore, and Darren Chester, for defendant-appellant.

          ZACHARY, JUDGE.

         Defendant Patricia Winston appeals from the district court's order granting immediate possession of Defendant's leased premises to Plaintiff Raleigh Housing Authority. We affirm.

         Background

         On 17 April 2017, Defendant entered into a twelve-month Lease Agreement with Plaintiff for the rental of a one-bedroom apartment located in the Walnut Terrace Community in Raleigh. Between October and December of 2017, Plaintiff received three written, and multiple oral, complaints from Defendant's neighbors concerning noise disturbances coming from Defendant's apartment. Specifically, in the written complaints, Defendant's neighbors described being awoken late at night by "stomping, fighting, cursing and knocking over furniture" as well as "loud music." One complaint further alleged that it "look[ed] like drug exchanges [were] going on."

         When the complaints continued after a written warning, on 1 December 2017 Plaintiff's property manager sent Defendant a Notice of Lease Termination for violation of Paragraph 9(f) of the parties' Lease Agreement, which required Defendant "[t]o conduct . . . herself and cause other persons who are on the premises with [her] consent to conduct themselves in a manner which [would] not disturb the neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of their accommodations."

         Thereafter, Defendant had an informal meeting with Plaintiff's property manager, during which Defendant informed the manager that the complaints had arisen from incidents of domestic violence committed against Defendant by her former partner, Walter Barnes. Defendant indicated that she had since obtained a Domestic Violence Protective Order against Mr. Barnes, thereby preventing him from returning to the Leased Premises and causing additional disturbances. Based on Defendant's explanation for the noise complaints, Plaintiff rescinded the lease termination.

          However, Plaintiff soon received another written complaint from a neighbor of Defendant describing a disturbance caused by Defendant's conduct on the late evening and early morning hours of 5 February and 6 February 2018, to wit:

I was awaken [sic] out of my sleep at 1:00 A.M. from my neighbor upstairs with loud fussing, cursing and yelling, which then proceeded down the steps, outside my door and continuing still into the parking lot.
She approached me the next morning . . . when I came home for my break from her balcony, yelling saying that I'm trying to get her put out, and I told her no I wasn't. I can't continue letting them keep me awake when I have to get up at 3:00 A.M. to go to work. I'm sleepy at work because I'm not getting any sleep at night.
She told me that I'm not suppose[d] to report anything to the office, that I should be telling her and not the office. I've spoken to her about this on several occasions and she apologized and said that it would ...

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