GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2011

S                                                                                                                                                     1

SENATE BILL 488

 

 

Short Title:        Landlord/State Bar Notice of Lease Default.

(Public)

Sponsors:

Senators Stein, Vaughan, and Newton.

Referred to:

Judiciary I.

April 4, 2011

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT requiring landlords to give notice to the north carolina state bar of an attorney's default on a lease in order to protect the confidentiality of the attorney's files.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1.  Chapter 42 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read as follows:

" 42-14.4.  Notice to State Bar of attorney default on lease.

(a)        If a landlord has knowledge that a tenant is or may have been an attorney, the landlord shall deliver notice to the North Carolina State Bar (hereinafter "State Bar") at least 30 days prior to the destruction or sale of any "potentially confidential materials" remaining in the premises after the landlord obtains possession of the premises, whether by summary ejectment under Article 3 of this Chapter or by any other means, including the tenant vacating the premises. For purposes of this section, the term "potentially confidential materials" means client files, trust or operating account records, or other materials relating to client matters. The landlord's notice to the State Bar shall contain the name of the attorney who is presumed to be the tenant, the location of the potentially confidential materials, and a phone number, address, or other means to contact the landlord. If the landlord removes the potentially confidential materials from the premises, the landlord must store the potentially confidential materials in a reasonably secure location in file cabinets, boxes, or other appropriate containers. The landlord shall exercise reasonable care to maintain the potentially confidential materials intact and undamaged by the landlord's actions.

(b)        The State Bar or its designee may take possession of the materials, at its sole expense, within the 30-day period provided for in subsection (a) of this section without the necessity of a court order. Upon the request of the State Bar, the landlord shall cooperate with and allow the State Bar to take possession of the potentially confidential materials, and the landlord shall not be liable in any way to the tenant for his or her cooperation. However, if the tenant elects to take possession of the potentially confidential materials prior to the State Bar obtaining possession of them, and there is no court order to the contrary having been previously delivered to the landlord, the landlord may deliver possession of the potentially confidential materials to the tenant and shall promptly notify the State Bar of his or her actions. If neither the State Bar nor its designee take possession of the potentially confidential materials within the 30-day period provided for in subsection (a) of this section, the landlord may destroy or discard the materials in a manner that will provide reasonable protection against access to the potentially confidential materials by third parties, including shredding or delivering the potentially confidential materials to a corporate document disposal service."

SECTION 2.  G.S. 44A-2 is amended by adding a new subsection to read as follows:

"(h)       Any landlord of residential or nonresidential property, including any storage or self-storage space, in which potentially confidential materials, as that term is defined in G.S. 42-14.4(a), remains after the landlord has obtained possession of the property, must provide notice to the North Carolina State Bar as required in G.S. 42-14.4. Potentially confidential materials shall not be the subject of a lien under the provisions of this Article and must be destroyed or safely discarded if the State Bar or its designee does not take possession pursuant to G.S. 42-14.4."

SECTION 3.  This act is effective when it becomes law.