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Charlotte Days Inn Seeks Court Order To Close And Remove Residents

Long-term residents at the Days Inn on East Woodlawn Road waited for the water and electricity to be turned back on at midday Tuesday.
David Boraks
Long-term residents at the Days Inn on East Woodlawn Road waited for the water and electricity to be turned back on April 21st.

The owners of a Charlotte Days Inn have taken their fight to close the hotel to court. In a suit filed Friday at Mecklenburg County Superior Court, they're seeking a court order to remove residents.

Owner OMS Ventures of Charlotte says it tried to shut down the hotel April 20. OMS says that's because employees walked off the job after learning that some guests might have COVID-19. 

Some residents refused to leave. They say the hotel owners shut off water and electricity in an attempt to evict them. According to the suit, a dozen rooms are still occupied. 

OMS Ventures says it's trying to assert its property rights. The suit also claims that tenants have caused more than $20,000 in damage, including to locks and security cameras. OMS says it offered the residents $250 each to help the move to another hotel, but nobody accepted. 

So the company is seeking a court order to remove them. 

Long-Term Residents May Have Tenants' Rights

Under North Carolina law, long-term residents of a hotel or motel can have the same rights as any other tenants - including the right to a court hearing for an eviction. So OMS also wants the judge to rule that the residents are not long-term tenants.

Under legal precedents, residents may qualify for tenants' rights if they've lived at a hotel or motel for extended time, list it as their primary address and receive mail there. Experts say that decision is up to a judge in each case. 

Some residents have lived at the Days Inn for as long as nine months, others for weeks. Nine residents are being represented by Legal Aid of North Carolina. In a response filed Monday, they said they were not responsible for vandalism and have been pooling their money to pay for plumbing and cleaning.  

They had been paying $350 or more a week. Some have received financial aid for a couple of weeks' rent from Crisis Assistance Ministry, but that has now ended. Most are now not paying while the dispute with OMS drags on.  

In Monday's filing, some of the residents say if they're forced to leave, they'll have no place to go.

A Legal Aid of North Carolina lawyer said he could not comment beyond what had been filed.

The hotel's lawyer, William Devore, said in a statement Tuesday:  "The Days Inn’s number one concern is to have a hotel that is safe for its guests and its staff, which is why my client continues to offer to relocate these guests to another location while they make repairs and secure the premises."

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.