North Carolina Rental Laws

Written on March 28, 2014 by , updated on January 27, 2018

North CarolinaThis article summarizes some key North Carolina landlord-tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

The Official State Statutes and other reputable municipal sources were used to research this information. All sources are cited appropriately.

With that said, landlord-tenant laws are always changing, and may even vary from county to county or city to city. You have a responsibility to perform your own research and cautiously apply the laws to your unique situation.

If you have a legal question or concern, you should contact a licensed attorney referral service that is operated by the North Carolina Bar Association.

Official Rules and Regulations

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: Not to exceed two weeks’ rent if a tenancy is week-to-week, one and one-half months’ rent if a tenancy is month-to-month, and two months’ rent for terms greater than month to month. (NCGS § 42-51)
  • Permitted Uses of the Deposit: NCGS § 42-51 outlines the allowable uses of the deposit.
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days, unless the landlord needs more time to evaluate damage, upon which an interim notice may be sent within 30 days, with a final determination within 60 days. (NCGS § 42-52)
  • Security Deposit Interest: No Statute
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account:
    • Landlord is required to deposit the funds into a trust account with a licensed and insured bank or savings institution in the State of North Carolina, or furnish a bond from an insurance company licensed to do business in North Carolina. (NCGS § 42-50)
    • The landlord must notify the tenant within 30 days after the beginning of the lease term of the name and address of the bank or institution where his deposit is currently located or the name of the insurance company providing the bond. (NCGS § 42-50)
  • Pet Deposits: A reasonable non-refundable pet deposit is allowed (NCGS § 42-53)
  • Advance Notice of Deposit Withholding: No (NCGS § 42-52)
  • Move-Out Checklist/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes (NCGS § 42-52)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
  • Receipt of Deposit: No Statute

Lease, Rent and Fees:

  • Rent Is Due: No Statute
  • Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
  • Rent Grace Period: 5 days (NCGS § 42-46(a))
  • Application Fees: No Statute. Use Cozy to avoid charging application fees, since the tenant pays for the credit report directly.
  • Late Fees:
    • If rent is due in monthly installments, the landlord may charge a late fee up to $15.00 or five percent (5%) of the monthly rent, whichever is greater. (NCGS § 42-46(a)(1))
    • If rent is due in weekly installments, the landlord may charge a late fee up to $4.00 or five percent (5%) of the weekly rent, whichever is greater. (NCGS § 42-46(a)(2))
  • Prepaid Rent: No Statute
  • Additional Fees: Some fees are allowed and are specified in (NCGS § 42-46)
  • Returned Check Fees: $25 (NCGS § 25-3-506). Use Cozy to collect rent online to nearly eradicate late payments.
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): A tenant cannot withhold rent for any reason unless a judge or civil magistrate allows the tenant to do so (NCGS § 42-44)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No Statute
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: No (NCGS § 42-25.9)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages, including an Attempt to Rerent: No Statute

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No Statute. Typically no notice is needed as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Year-to-Year Lease: One month or more before the end of the current year of the tenancy. (NCGS § 42-14)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 7 days (NCGS § 42-14)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: 2 days (NCGS § 42-14)
  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – The Leasing of a Space for a Manufactured Home: 60 days (NCGS § 42-14)
  • Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No Statute
  • Termination for Nonpayment: 10 days (NCGS § 42-3)
  • Termination for Lease Violation: Immediately (NCGS § 42-26)
  • Required Notice before Entry: No Statute, but 24 hours is recommended
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): No Statute
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: No Statute
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No Statute
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (NCGS § 42-25.9)
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (NCGS § 42-25.9)
  • Self-Help Evictions: If a tenant is unlawfully evicted, the landlord is liable for the actual damages incurred to the tenant. (NCGS § 42-25.9)
  • Abandonment of Personal Property: Personal property is considered abandoned 10 days after lawful repossession of the property and formal written notice is posted inside and outside of the property, and there has been no communication from the tenant. Landlords must follow specific instructions in NCGS § 42-25.9 and NCGS § 42-36.2 .

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Landlord’s Duties: A detailed list of landlord responsibilities is provided in NCGS § 42-42.
  • Renter’s Duties: A detailed list of tenant responsibilities is provided in NCGS § 42-43.
  • Domestic Violence Situations:
    • Proof of Status: Landlord is entitled to verify claim of Domestic Violence status. (NCGS § 42-42.2)
    • Protection from Termination: Landlord cannot terminate a tenancy, fail to renew a tenancy, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement with a victim of domestic violence. (NCGS § 42-42.2)
    • Early Termination Rights: A tenant is allowed to terminate a lease with 30 days written notice and proof of Domestic Violence status. (NCGS § 42-45.1)
    • Locks: Upon request, the landlord must change or re-key the locks, or give the tenant permission to do so, at the tenant’s expense within 48 hours if the perpetrator does not live in the same dwelling unit as the victim, and 72 hours if the perpetrator lives in the dwelling unit. If a landlord fails to change the locks within 48 hours, a tenant may do so, but must give a copy of the keys to the landlord within 48 hours. (NCGS § 42-42.3)
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
  • Retaliation: For 12 months thereafter, a landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, been involved in a tenant’s organization, made a good faith complaint, or exercised a legal right. Other actions are prohibited. (NCGS § 42-37.1)

Court and Legal Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

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794 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Kelley

    NC -Can a landlord charge “other” fees for being late? I have always paid a late fee of $20 before the 5 day Grace period because I’ve been under the impression that after the day the rent is due, I was late & had to pay the fee, until I found out today about that Grace period. This month though, after calling the renters office to say I wouldn’t be able to pay until the 9th, I was sent a letter of fees owed. An “Anministrator’s fee” plus what is cost for them to send this by certified letter. I’ve never heard of this fee & have lived here for over 4 years. I paid because I was afraid they would evict me. What additional fees are landlords allowed to request & since I paid late fees before the 5 day period in the past, can I get that $ back

  • R. C.

    I have been a renter in the local area, and have been allegedly harassed within the neighborhood. The lock request was honored, however someone keeps entering into the premises without giving notice. I have incurred loss and damage of property. What are my rights as a tenant?

  • Latara Jeter

    I live an a apartment complex for almost a year. Within a few months my 2 month old started to get sick in which he still gets sick till this day. I was thinking its from mold or mildew because the floors had got flooded one day but some people came and picked up most of the carpet besides my room carpet. In my bathroom just recently I noticed that the bottom of the tub is painted and the paint is coming off under the tub mat and under the paint is permanent brown marks on the tub and their has been red spots coming out the tub and shower head. I don’t know what it is. I am going to call and let them know again but for some reason the problem to me won’t get fixed. I need to know what steps to go forward..

  • Sherry

    I moved in a house with someone that was behind in rent. The landlord agreed it was OK as long as I layer a certain amount. That I did. The other person moves out 3weeks later and I took up rental payments for the house. The agreement was 600 for rent and lights was included. My landlord got light bill from previous month and it was 300 dollars. He is treating to turn my lights out if the bill isn’t the same as it was before the other person moved out. I am also disable, home all the time, only have a window unit/heat in living room. No way to heat rest of 2bedroom home, &told not to use stove or electric heaters in 30-40° weather. Can he turn my lights out because he doesn’t like how I have to heat his house,my home, I do pay rent

  • Lissette Corujo

    In a renewal lease for my house, who signs the contract… the landlord or the property manager?

  • Jon

    Can you be evicted of you’ve been living somewhere for 2 months, receive mail there and you’ve changed your address on your license? For example someone rents a place and let’s you live there with no money agreement. You live there rent free and for whatever reason they throw a fit and decide to kick you out. Can they legally do that? In North Carolina.

    • Sandra Williams

      If you broke any of the terms of the written agreement between you and the property owner, then yes, they have the right to evict you. One, you state you were not paying rent. You were not “tenants” in that case, you were guests in the owners home. Did you do anything to cause the homeowner to “have a fit” as you stated?
      Property damage? Trashing the property? Doing drugs? Disturbing the neighbors where law enforcement was called to the house? Stealing personal items from the homeowner? Getting arrested and being locked up? Remember, you were only “guests” and not actual tenants. And if you have left a lot of personal items, and basically trashed the property, the homeowner can sue you in the amount not to exceed $10,000.

      • Jon

        There was no written agreement, i was allowed to stay as long as i actively looked for work which i did. My mother’s husband fit upset cause i was dumping a pot of leftovers and accidentally bent the pot which its what caused the argument, petty stuff, but i was not being hostel although he was.

  • wirez71

    I recently evicted a tenant in a commercial building for not paying rent. Got a writ for possession. The day before the lock out was done, I get an email from the tenant saying “We are COMPLETELY out.. There is no need for the deputy sheriff to come tomorrow”. I still go thru with the lockout & meet the locksmith & deputy. The place is somewhat trashed & I move forward with cleanup the same day. Well, today is the 7th day since lockout. I get an email from ex tenant saying he left a bag of items he desperately needs. I reply.. Everything has been thrown away. He is now threting me because I am required by law to safe store left over items after a lock out. Really? Does he still have rights? BTW.. He still did not pay the money judgement.

  • gypsy noonan

    what do we do if we live in a trailer that is believed to not be insulated? apparently our pipes are frozen and we have not had water for 24 hrs. we have 2 small children. what do we do?

  • Lease notice dilmena

    Begin renting a home for 2 years, April 1st 2015 through March 31st 2017. After end of lease another lease was never signed. In September, I sent landlord note with rent saying, I was going to stay until December 31st 2017, I then changed and said I would stay until March 31st 2018. Both times were notes with the rent. I sent notice last week giving thirty day notice that I was going to move January 31st 2018. My landlord is now telling me, that if I leave before March 31st, I am obligated to pay rent through March 31st and I will not receive the two month deposit I paid in 2015. Is this correct, since I have a month to month lease at this point?

  • Aimee

    My disabled husband and I rent a mobile home on a private lot in a rural area. The landlord has failed to ensure the home is maintained and proper repairs haven’t been made after multiple water leaks (walls are completely softened at this point and I am 100% sure there is mold). Now we are facing a winter snow/ice storm with frozen pipes (no water or toilet usage x2 days now) and landlord states plumber can’t help until the pipes thaw. They’ve not even had anyone come out to assess any ruptures there may be or turn off the water to the home. We don’t have a lot of money for finding a new place and coming up with deposits and such so other than that what legal options are available to help us out of this horrible situation? month to month

  • Angela Coats

    A friend helped rent a home for my children and myself.. We have lived in the home 6 months. He resides at a different residence.. He’s now threatening me after finding out I was seeing someone to evict us from our home and cut our utilities. Only he is on the lease but the landlord knows we reside here and he had a paper notarized that me and my children live here. What can he do and what are my rights?

  • Madeline Bennington

    My husband, daughter, grandson, and I are looking to move into a different rental once we find one that will suit us as a family. One website was noted as ” A lease signed in NC may be subject to a 9.99 utility fee, local taxes, and processing fees.” . What does that mean?

  • Cheryl Welsh

    Hi Mr. Hall,
    I have a question, if I am renting a house through a rental agency; and my lease is up in 07/2018; can I break my lease early in March 2018. I fell in 7/2017 and suffered some significant physical injuries making it difficult to ambulate up the stairs in the home and using the restroom facilities. I am liable for the rent until the property is leased out again once we have moved out. These medical conditions were unexpected. Am I still liable to the original lease agreement under North Carolina law. The home I am trying to move to has facilities to accommodate my physical disabilities.

  • LaNee Andrews

    I applied for an income restricted apt back in December. I got all my verifications that was asked of me such as employment, child support affivdate, letter from my mother stating I used to live with her, as cards for me and my daughter, her birth certificate, my id, etc. They denied because they said I made too much money but that was their mistake because they added up the wrong amount for child support. When I showed them their mistake they added it up again and saw I was right under the amount I couldn’t go over so then they came back and denied me again saying that the cash deposits I had in my bank account couldn’t verified when I explain to them what each deposit was from August to December. Can I be denied for that.

  • Kim

    I have been living In my townhouse for 4 years.. 3 of them my landlord never redid a lease for me not even a month to month. He is now telling me I need to vacate the property within 60 days so that he can fix the house up to sell it. Do I have any rights? Do I have to move within those 60 days?

  • Sonia

    Please I need to know if it’s mandatory to do a credit report on a rental .. and can you accept credit report from a text and accept that .. in North Carolina

  • Pamela Jones

    Hello, I moved out of a one bedroom apt in November 2017. There was no security deposit upon leasing the apt. I left a forwarding address if there was any damages that needed to be paid. I called in Dec 2017 to inquire if everything was clear and find out if I owed anything. The apt manager verified that they had my forwarding address and if there was anything that needed to be addressed they would send me an amount as far as she saw it was only $30.00. It is now Feb 2018 and I just received a letter in the mail from a collection agency saying I owe the apartment 600.00. I never received a final account statement from the apartment. I called them and they admitted it was an oversight on their part. What are my rights in this matter?

  • Christina

    I have rented a place almost a year. August will be when my lease is up. If I want to re-rent, would I have to pay another deposit?

  • Lisa N Leccese-Tringali

    If I sign a 12 month lease with an old owner and he sells the house can the new owner evict me? Rent never late. No other issues or problems

  • Barbie

    I am a tenant at an assortment complex.i have several complaints against me for excessive noise after 10 pm which is the time for the noise ordinance.but i have gotten 2 warnings which are not in writing to me and now even though i have made every possible step to ensure I’m not making excessive noise there has been 2 more complaints and i have now gotten my 3rd and final warning plus a lease violation notice..i am now fighting eviction.for one,i believe the complaints are coming from neighbors that i didn’t get along with and they have made false accusations to the office about me.but they have no proof i was making excessive noise and no police have ever been called to my apartment which i was told needed to happen legally. Is this true?

  • April FMurphy

    I moved out of my apartment 2/1/1018 due to job relocation, communicated 4 times w the Landlord via email with the first two weeks of being out of my apartment, asking for contact information so that I could set up a payment plan for the buy out option, 60 days plus 1.5 mo rent, I asked her to send via email the final move out statement, she said she would send it via email and to my address. I have not received the final move out statement, today I received a call from a group collecting this amount, doesn’t the landlord have to have the final statement delivered to you via email or thru the mail, what are my rights? Am I still expected to pay since there was no statement sent to me.

  • Ethan

    Hi Lucas,

    My roommate is moving out on a combined lease with 5 months remaining. We have yet to find a sublet, but I have been actively searching (less so from my roommate). What are my options if they decide to not pay rent after moving out? Would we go to court? And if so, would I have a good chance of winning the case? If these were individual leases I would be less concerned.

  • Brian Avery

    I live in Fayetteville, NC. and my lease ended November 2017. I decided in March of 2018 to make plans to move, and was approved for another home in April. My wife sent and dropped off a copy of a 30 day move out notice, that was dated April 12, 2018. The move out is dated May 12, 2018. My landlord told my wife that we would be responsible for the entire month of May. Is my landlord with in her legal rights in charging me for the entire month of May, or should be pro-rated N.C laws?

  • Jamie Ray

    For North Carolina, how long can a guest stay at a family or friends place that is owned by a landlord before the rent has to increase? Say a family member wants to just come and spend some time with the family and to save some money just comes and stays for a week. Could the landlord legally kick that member out and/or evict the family living there for it? Even if it’s not permanent?

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