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Judge Lets Some Charlotte Days Inn Residents Stay, Says Others Are Trespassing

Residents and housing activists were at the Days Inn Monday.
David Boraks
Owners want to close the Days Inn on East Woodlawn Road, but some long-term tenants have resisted moving out.

A Superior Court judge says some people living at a Charlotte Days Inn that tried to close last month can stay for now. But he says the owners have the right to remove others who are trespassing. 

OMS Ventures of Charlotte had tried to shut down the hotel on East Woodlawn Road on April 20. The company said the staff had refused to work over concerns that some residents might have COVID-19. 

But some people refused to leave, and on May 1 the company sought a court order to remove them. OMS Ventures claims the residents have done more than $20,000 in damage, including to locks, security cameras, hotel offices and laundry and storage rooms. 

OMS Ventures also has said it offered the residents $250 each to help them move to another hotel but nobody accepted. 

In an order Monday, Judge Casey Viser listed the names of occupants in 13 rooms who were living at the Days Inn on April 20 and said they can stay for now. The order does not protect anyone else still at the hotel and says they may be removed as trespassers. 

Under North Carolina law, long-term residents of a hotel can have the same rights as any other kind of tenant, including the right to a court hearing before an eviction. But eviction hearings are effectively on hold until June 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Most of the residents have not paid for their rooms since April 20, when the owners tried to shut down. But the judge said they will continue to be liable for the charges. 

Viser said that OMS Ventures wants to reopen, but he said in Monday's order that the company has not convinced him that it's impossible to reopen without removing all the current occupants.   

William DeVore, the lawyer for OMS Ventures, said the owner planned to begin removing trespassers immediately.  

A lawyer with Legal Aid of North Carolina who represented many of the residents declined to comment. 

The judge did not issue a final ruling on the owners' request for a preliminary injunction to evict all the occupants. He continued the hearing until June 9.  

Owners' Statement

Charlotte lawyer William DeVore is representing OMS Ventures and issued this statement Monday night:

"My client is thankful for the Judge’s Order issued today. We believe it is a move in the right direction to ensure the safety of all our guests, including those who have decided to remain there. Safety has always been, and will always be, the Days Inn’s number one priority, especially during this pandemic. Unfortunately, in its current state and prior to the Order, the Days Inn on Woodlawn has been the subject of repeated criminal and destructive behavior and was simply unsafe for its guests and the community.

"I am hopeful that the Court’s ruling will allow my client to remove the trespassers who are committing violent criminal acts and who are actively destroying the property. While the Court continued the hearing on our Preliminary Injunction until June 9, we are again, thankful that we can at least remove some of the trespassers as early as today.

"The Days Inn on Woodlawn, like many other similarly situated hotels throughout our country, is intended for transient occupancy and has always held itself out to be a standard operating hotel with guests, not tenants residing there. Currently, the Days Inn on Woodlawn is closed to the public, but the issuance of this Order will hopefully be a positive step toward getting my client closer to re-opening in a safe and proper manner."

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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.