NC hotel guest rules bill approved, heads to Cooper

Published 11:55 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023

RALEIGH — The North Carolina General Assembly gave final approval on Tuesday to legislation designed to help hoteliers and innkeepers remove longer-term guests determined to be violating establishment rules.

The bill now moves to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who vetoed a similar measure in 2021. His response could lead to an early test of his veto powers this year after Republicans expanded their House and Senate majorities with the November elections so that they are now within one seat of holding veto-proof control.

With some bipartisan support, the House voted 83-29 for the legislation that had already passed the Senate last month by a 28-16 vote.

The measure says that landlord-tenant rules, which make it more difficult to remove an occupant, don’t apply when a person is staying at a hotel, motel or RV park for fewer than 90 consecutive days.

Such rules are usually reserved for home and apartment renters, which can require legal action to complete evictions. The measure has the support of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Opponents of the measure contend that people often living for weeks in hotels have nowhere else to go because of economic circumstances or the lack of affordable housing and need more protections.

When vetoing the 2021 measure, Cooper wrote that the “legislation is not the right way to ensure safety in hotels” and instead “allows unnecessary harm to vulnerable people.”

The House on Tuesday rejected a Democrat’s amendment that would have reduced “transient occupancies,” in which the tougher removal regulations wouldn’t apply, to stays of fewer than 45 straight days. And an innkeeper would have been required to give a guest at least 24 hours’ notice before removal and to release the guest’s personal property afterward.