North Carolina Rental Laws

Written on March 28, 2014 by , updated on June 14, 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: Yes (NCGS § 42-46 and NCGS § 42-33)
  • 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.

Related Links

Housing Authorities

REALTORS® Associations

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830 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Deborah

    I had a chain link dog pen put in with the landlord’s permission. The poles are cemented in the ground. Do I need to leave it or dig it up and fill in the holes?

  • Rick

    Water leak and mold
    I notified my landlord of water and mold issues 10 days ago and the office still keeps saying they are waiting for the manager to decide what to do
    I live in an apartment complex and they ignore repair requests what can I legally do

  • Bob

    Water leak and mold
    I notified my landlord of water and mold issues 10 days ago and the office still keeps saying they are waiting for the manager to decide what to do
    I live in an apartment complex and they ignore repair requests what can I legally do

  • Kelly

    I have a rental property that needs to “freshining up” it was listed with the plan to not rent until the upgrades had been done but I found a good tenant that needed to move in before they were done and was ok with the upgrades being done while they were in the house. My question is for the move in/out checklist how would I handle that? Things they may say are in poor repair now (old hardwoods) will be upgraded in the next month or so and I don’t want them to be able to abuse the house with brand new flooring, etc…and not have any repercussions for it in the end.

  • JAN L MCCARTHY

    An apartment complex I’m considering moving to requires tenants to purchase $100,000 liability insurance (management said in case of damage to apt say from a hurricane) and $20,000 personal property insurance. When I questioned this she said it was a North Carolina law. Shouldn’t the property owners carry the property insurance?

  • Jim

    I am trying to find out if it is legal for a landlord to charge a tenant a fee to pay by check In NC?

  • Regina Romero

    I live in an apartment complex, I pay full rent $815 per month, there are HUD units in the complex. Management wants to inspect my apartment for housekeeping, I complied at first and then I received a violation notice stating due to housekeeping standards ( dishes in the sink and trash not empty, bag in the can). I called the city for an inspection and they provided a list to the office to fix, code violations, Now 2 months later they sent letters again wanting to inspect because of past housing keeping issues. I have refused. I am adopting 2 children and have multiple state and city works in my home twice a week for the last 2 year, they have requested repairs on my behave, repairs took months and that my unit is clean. Is this legal?

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