North Carolina Rental Laws

Written on March 28, 2014 by , updated on November 1, 2017

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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769 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

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