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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711 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.

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