North Carolina Rental Laws

Last updated on November 8, 2016 by

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. 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, I only recommend contacting 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 the 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 NC, or furnish a bond from an insurance company licensed to do business in NC. (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 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 because the tenant pays for the credit report directly.
  • Late Fees:
    • If rent is due in monthly installments, the landlord may charge a late fee of $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 of $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). I recommend using Cozy to collect rent online to nearly eradicate late payments.
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No Statute
  • 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 5-7 days after lawful repossession of the property and formal written notice to 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 at the tenant’s expense within 48-72 hours depended on the situation. (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.

Landlord-Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

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738 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Brian

    Can a home owner in North Carolina be held responsible for the actions of an adult family member living on the property? There is no rental or lease agreement. Thanks.

  • Cindy

    I’ve got many issues with my landlord. We were friends but the living situation I was in came in between us. First the refrigerator was to be replaced months ago because the freezer doesn’t work, the heating system is a gas pak furnace and we had no tank to put gas in until 2 weeks ago and now it’s warm but when it was cold it was in the 40’s and 50’s in the house, during the summer we had a massive roach infestation and now it’s the mice. They’re taking me to court claiming that my dog peed on a 25yr old carpet and ruined it. How often is a landlord supposed to replace carpets anyway and paint? The house is very old and the lease did not mention that there could be lead paint and shouldn’t there be a clause in the lease about that also?

    • Eric

      Legally, you are only responsible for the remaining value of the carpet over its useful life – which in the case of a 25 yr old carpet would be $0.

      The landlord depreciates the cost of the carpet over its useful life. Let’s say the landlord paid $1000 and is allowed to depreciate it at $250 / yr. After 1 year, the remaining value would be $750. If you damaged it at that point in time, you would owe $750.

      Yes, the Landlord must disclose all lead hazards.

  • Nia

    Can a landlord just terminate my lease when a old friend of mind lied and said she was staying with me which is a violation of my lease but she didn’t live with me and lied to my landlord which is causing my lease to be terminated I have loved in the same place for 4 years with no problems until now how should i handle this

  • Diane Stitt

    Good Afternoon,
    I am currently in a situation where my landlord had me sign a lease on 8/3/2016 with an end date of 8/7/2017. The issues I have are that we signed a one year lease and when actuality it was for one year and three days. Also, we use paylease to make on line rent payments and this shows lease end date of 8/3/2017. What do I do?

  • June Roman

    Renting a lot for my mobile home for 17 yrs. Always cut my grass and weeds always hauled off my own trash, now he is going to charge. $55.00 for lawncare and $20.00 trash service. Can he do that? I am elderly and live on limited soc.sec. raising my rent to $200.00 a month.

  • Sonja

    Good morning! Recently started a small business that I rented a commercial property – signed a year lease. I am active duty Army and now have some extensive commitments in the military and can no longer run the business enough to generate income. I have not received permanent change of station orders but temporary duty orders for couple weeks at a time this summer. I am anticipating writing the landlord a letter asking to terminate the lease early because of my military commitments. The lease started in December 2016 and I have paid rent through the end of this month, March 2017. Any advice that you can give me would be greatly appreciated and I do not have the $3600 to pay the lease out.

    • Jesse Former

      Google “Service Member Civil Relief Act”. Gets you out of any lease/contract, should military orders arise. Phones, car lease, and property lease are included. No need to pay out the lease either. It simply dissolves.

    • Betty Clark

      You started a business and signed a one-year lease. Your inability to manage and operate your business is your problem. Many, many small businesses fail in the early months and oftentimes it is due to failure to assess your own situation. Your landlord rented to an adult-business-owner/operator (you). Landlords are responsible for the successful operation of their own businesses and are not responsible for the successful operation of their tenant’s business. As an active-duty military person you have to have known that your availability to operate a business was risky since your daily activity is based on the needs of the military service first. You exercised bad judgment going into business…now it is time to pay the price.

  • Danielle

    We ended our lease on January 31st and submitted the necessary cleaning receipts to our property manager before lease close. The property manager did NOT do a walk through with us at the end of the lease, but the landlord has since put the house up for sale. It is now March 31st and the property has a pending offer on the house, meaning it’s had realtor traffic and people in and out of the house. We received a letter on Feb 28th stating they are collecting a list of items to charge against our security deposit. How is this legal? Who knows what happened in that house since we left the property on January 31st! Does anyone have advice?

    • Nichelle

      As i recommend to those who lease from my company, pictures are proof. If you took pictures before you left, take them to court. If not, that’d a harder battle but you can still win in court with the receipts.

  • susan secord

    my landlord has given me 30 days notice to raise my rent by 12 percent, can they raise it this much? Also they will not accept checks from me anymore, I have not ever bounced a check-nor been late with my rent. They also did not state how they will accept the rent.What are my rights-thank you

  • Bryant Utley

    I own 2.1 acres. I live in a home on that property. My g’mother lives in the house with me. (House is in my dad’s name) She’s been here for 20 years while I’ve traveled with my business. I moved back home into the house. Even though the home isn’t hers, and land isn’t hers, she is the “landlord” bc she’s lived here for so long. I give her $100/week so she will have $$ to pay utilities, taxes etc. She goes thru my things every time I leave, threatening to kick me out of my own home because it’s “messy”. I have no desire to take her to court to sue over piddley crap like this. At the same time, I’m done coming home to find my stuff everywhere and her threatening to force me to leave. I could REALLY use some advice on how to handle it.

  • Joan Angarano

    Can my landlord perform nonessential construction with an estimated 4 – 6 week finish time without any compensation to me?
    I have a lease.
    Thank you,
    Joan Angarano

  • Victoria

    My landlord has failed to write on the lease a start and end date, what does that mean for me and my roommates? Also my landlord has shown up two to three times unannounced and in one instance verbal harrassed one of my roommates. What are our legal grounds as tenants? It is included in the lease that the landlord cannot show up without a 24 hour notice. Can I break the lease and move into a new place and still receive my security deposit?

    • Nichelle

      North carolina law doesnt state how much time has to be given before an appearence. So technically, they dont have to notify that they are coming over at all. Now, you don’t have to legally allow them in unless it’s a cause of concern(ie a pipe is busted and there’s water everywhere). You cannot break a lease without a big chance of being sued for the remainder of the tent on your lease.

  • Ashley

    I have 4 cats I’ve had them when the old landlord owned the house well he sold it last May now my new landlord wants me to get rid of them when he was well aware I had them and I still have them and instill excepts the rent every month Is it legal for him to make me get rid of them

    • Nichelle

      Yes, he can force that as the new owner. Anything your old lease states is no longer valid because it was a contract with a diffrent person.

  • Jack harper

    My niece is moving to forth Carolina her landlord is charging her a 200 dollar move in fee is that legal

    • Nichelle

      No, that is not legal if it’s a normal lease with a deposit. If she’s renting a room weekly or monthly then yes, it’s legal.

  • Sue

    We have work repairs that will keep us from staying in our apartment for 72 hours due to the shower being resurfaced and can’t be used that long as well as the chemica odors that are harmful. My question is we already left and paid for a hotel for a weekend with our own money and the landlord didn’t even offer to reimburse us, now the guy did a bad job on that so we have to leave yet again for 72 hours and the landlord didn’t offer to pay! They don’t have any available apartments to put us in for 3 days so isn’t this their job to pay the hotel and having to eat out for 3 days? It doesn’t seem right we pay rent plus a hotel! I haven’t mentioned it to them yet as I want to know whis responsible for the hotel

    • Nichelle

      They are. You need to divide the rent you pay by the amount of days in that month. They are responsible for x amount in hotel fees. So if your rent is 500 a month and you divide that by 30 days, they are only responsible for 16.60 per a day in accomidations.

  • Carolyn

    I moved into this home three years ago moved out when the lease was up had a service dog one year after living at this residence I still had to pay an extra $50 a month for having a dog for three years not to mention after moving out they claim $600 for painting a room because it smells like smoke and dog is this legal seems to be double jeopardy paying for the dog no damages from the dog

  • curt

    My complex just sent out a notice to all that rent payment must now be a ACH from a checking account Or they will charge a 5.00 Check fee to pay rent. But this is not in my lease. Can they charge a fee if I do not allow them access to my checking account?

  • Amie

    Had a year lease with landlord. About halfway through year the septic system flooded back yard. Its an old house and roots had grown into pipes over time. Anyway..we notified landlord of situation immediately. No response or attempt to repair. 2-3 weeks go by..landlord shows up says it fixed. It wasnt. Had to go to inspector.Inspection results stated septic system replacement as well as several interior ect. Inspector told us unsuitable but wont displace us..but to notify if we move. weeks later ordered to vacate landlord states he is moving in to repair.landlord says 2000 gallons of water leaking daily.Only days to deposit house is online for rent again. Our life is still upside down thanks to him.

  • william

    I’m a disabled Army Veteran, There’s 3 in my family. I have lived in this rental house almost 5 years . My lease is up in Oct. 2017 I have asked 2 times last year to buy this house. Landlord says not yet. Now I have 6 m0nths left on this lease. We have stairs so its difficult now for me.
    My point I made an offer on a house to buy Va Loan.
    Put and offer on the house yesterday how much time for me to write my letter to landlord this is a service connected disabilities issue I need this new house ? 30 days is it

  • Stefanie

    I am currently under a 12 month lease, ending July 31, 2017. My landlord has sent a letter stating my rental rate will be increased by $50, effective June 1, 2017. Only reason given is it was “deemed necessary.” Is my landlord allowed to increase my rent during my long term lease? Surely they must wait until the current lease term has expired. I’ve read the original lease and the rental renewal agreement from last year and I don’t see any clause allowing for this.

  • Edward

    We just moved. Previous landlord has done nothing but complain about the state of the house when we moved, claiming carpet stains from our dogs, etc. We cleaned the house when we moved in, including cleaning carpets, high and low scrubbing to all walls, cabinets, ceilings. She did not do this due to time constraints and we offered. Now she is trying to say we left “filth” and that I did not weed eat upon final mowing. There was normal wear and tear in the house. I know it looked better than when we moved in last year. Basically she is nit picking to try to withold our deposit. Can she hold deposit on these items? She won’t let me back in to clean whatever she is talking about.

  • Jennifer

    I am renting land that my mobile home sits on. I own the mobile home. I do not have a written lease with the landlord. My landlord is now stating that he is selling the land I rent and I have 60 days to move my mobile home and all other property off the land. He sent me a typed letter (not from any legal firm or business) to tell me this information. I have tried to contact him on multiple occasions to ask if I may purchase the land myself, or if I can have more time than just two months to find a way and place to move. He will not respond to me. My trailer is 20 years old and I am having a hard time finding someone who will move it, as the frame is stated as “weak”. Do I have any rights?

    • David

      I think that your landlord is a real douche for just up and selling the land out from under you and putting the financial strain of having to relocate the mobile home.

  • Elizabeth Smith

    What are early termination rights for renter? We’ve bought a house and are looking to terminate our lease early.

  • James E Ross Jr.

    I wonder if a landlord or manager can give you all kinds of frivolous complaints for termination of lease like clothes in front of the washing machine and the washer is going & dishes in the sink or some mail in the chair and/or company coming over. Are those legal grounds for an eviction?

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