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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849 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.


    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?

  • Vaughn Stroud

    Is my low income apartment responsible for removing ice from the walkways?

    Also. The sound barrier between my apartment and the apartment above me is basically nonexistent. What is the requirements for this as it causes many letters of complaints from me to my landlord about the horrific loud thuds and bangs from upstairs?
    What about my rights to a quiet and calm living space?

  • Mahmoud Mostapha

    My apartment complex is forcing me to pay 300$ water bills each month and refuse to adjust them. How can I get help disputing that since I can’t pay these bills?

  • Tanya Amatori


    I had extensive damage from a tenant who left long strips of tape on the walls which resulted in ripped off paint and gyprock. Also the room was left beyond dirty….took me 5 hours to clean what normally takes me one hour. My son mudded, sanded, primed and painted all the damaged walls….he has worked solid all week after work. Can I invoice the tenant a reasonable rate for the repair and cleaning and take it out of the security?

  • Tekk

    I live in a 2 bedroom apartment with my child whom, I share joint custody with his mother. The landlord is telling me that I can no longer stay in my apartment because I don’t have my child at least 4 days every week. My joint custody arrangement allows me to have visitation with my child every other week. I have reviewed my lease and there is nothing that specifies that I have to have my child 4 days out of every week to retain my lease on this 2 bedroom apartment. According to FHA what this falls under is discrimination. Can the Landlord remove me from the apartment?

  • Amber

    I moved into my apartment in June. The landlord is the only good thing about it. The apartment and neighbors have become a nightmare.
    I’ve had ant problems twice within the first 2 months. The problem existed before I moved in because when I moved in there were already bait traps on the floors. the landlord did take care of these (though the one where I woke up with dozens of ants on my face in bedroom was traumatizing and I have NO food in my bedroom ever, they were inside the walls).
    My neighbors have gotten increasingly bad over the time I’ve been here. Screaming, fighting, slamming things. Their apt from the hall constantly reeks of weed and while my landlord said something to them about the noise, he made no comment about the drugs.

  • Robin Ellerbe Glenn

    Robin Glenn:
    My disabled husband, my father and I have been renting a home for 3 1/2 yrs. The house has a mold problem that has been there for years prior to us moving in. They first blamed it on us and our pets. I used a portable dryer vent because there was no dryer vent. I felt that aggravated it and I admit that but not responsible for all of it. They said that we caused  it and made us either pay for the repairs or vacate. Because  of my sick husband I paid for the repairs. Afterwards the smell mold continuesd especially after they put in a dryer vent. I reported to them that the sub-floor in our hallway was weak. A company came out to fix the repairs and said that it was not our fault. The landlord is still making us pay. Can we sue?

  • Sandy

    I am a landlord …I rented a house to a lady and her 12 year old son no lease…She got married a few months ago he moved in ..I was not informed about it …I do not want this man in my house hes known as an abusive person and sells drugs ..
    What can I do to get him to move out …
    What are my rights in the state of NC…

  • Cresha

    Hi I’m trying to help my mom. She has been living in a trailer that has been deemed condemned by the fire department and fema after hurricane Florence but since she had no place to go she continues to live in said trailer paying the whole $500 month rent. The landlord has not fixed a thing there a holes in the roof and floor all her things are ruined due to rain pouring in through the roof. But now she is being evicted because she asked when things were going to be fixed. Is there something she can do, we lost my dad last year so she’s also dealing with that and now this. Thank you

  • Steven Sebben


    I am writing to inquire if your firm can provide services for escrow relative to purchase/sale agreements and closings. I am purchasing a used excavator in your state and the purchase agreement requires escrow services, I want to know if you can provide escrow service and be the closing agent for this purchase. Let me know if this is your area of practice and i will send you the purchase agreement and the escrow instruction for your review. If not please provide a referral to my private


    Steven Sebben

  • Paul

    Can a Airbnb Owner put cameras inside of the rental property in NC

  • Q

    The RV park that I have had an annual lease in for the past 3 years is starting to make many abrupt changes. Such as announcing on the 1st of a month that CC payments will incur a $12 fee, cash is no longer accepted and that the only way to avoid the fees is to allow the company asccess to your bank account. That aside, they say that they will start charging $20 extra per pet. Is that even legal? All we are renting is a lot, not a dwelling that can incur damages.

  • Rusty C Kendrick

    Just wondering…I showed up to the property management company browsing thru my home with no prior notice. She just let herself in, and upon checking my security cameras, with no announcement. She had a report of a cat. Yes, there was a stray my kids let in from time to time. We have no animal control here and many abandoned cats all the neighbors feed. My concern is my minor son being here alone and a strange woman letting herself in. It seems quite inappropriate. Please advise.

  • Victor

    Can I terminate a month to month lease the day I move in without any consequences if the place isnt in good sanitary condition? I’m talking about dead bugs on the floor, some type of animal hair on the rugs and bed.

  • S. Wilson

    We have a tenant with anger management issues renting a room in our home with only a verbal lease. He often blows up into cursing fits. He is also verbally abusive towards his son. His son living here was not part of the verbal agreement. What steps do we need to take to both prove and evict this person from our private owned home. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. He has lived in the home for two years because we don’t have the funds to go to court. He is forever cursing and shouting. We are at our wits end. Please offer best advice.

  • Susan R Smith

    Slumlord violates MANY codes,requirement. Ex.:propane gas line showing, cars running over it. How can tenant acquire who insures rental property?

  • Dara Lawson

    There is a land lord that is charging a 65 dollar app fee person…. isn’t there a limit of what they can charge I’ve bever paid over 40 dollars it’s kinda higher to be in the area it is in…..

  • Tiffany L Roberts

    notified landlord of renewal option of lease by mailed letter not UPS/Certified. My secretary mailed it to him she did notarize it to prove the date I signed it. He states it was not mailed correctly according to the lease and now does not count. my lease gives me the right to renew for 4 (5) year consecutive terms with rent going up each term and the option to buy the building. now he states it will expire the end of the year but will give a new lease soon. what are my options with this? do I just have to accept what he offers or do I have a leg to stand on since he said it wasn’t sent correctly which to me is stating he got it. I don’t have a proof of delivery just my secretary saying she sent it to him. frustrated ~ thank you

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