North Carolina Rental Laws

Written on March 28, 2014 by , updated on July 24, 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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752 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Nicole

    My husband and I are recently reconciled and moving into an apartment. He already got the lease on it, but only his name is on the lease, due to our separation last year. As stated, we are reconciled now. Do we need to add my name to the lease OR would we be in violation if we dont?

  • Alethea

    Are NC landlords/complexes allowed to double charge rent (charge you and another party for the same months rent)? I can’t find this info anywhere online.

  • CHRISTINA BRYANT

    my fiance and i are renting a trailer with no stove or fridge. its infested with bugs and a mouse. they were already there
    the place is not fit for anyone to live in. im late with rent and they give a week to move.

  • CHRISTINA BRYANT

    my fiance and i are renting a trailer with no stove or fridge. its infested with bugs and a mouse. they were already there
    the place is not fit for anyone to live in. im late with rent and they give a week to move. whats worse they have someone intrested in my home that i’m still living in

  • JUDY

    I have a townhouse in Charlotte. The tenant is moving and mailed here rent on time, but prorated for the time she said she will be out middle of month. Is she legally allowed to do that?

  • Wade

    Short and sweet. Roommate lied, had no income. Apartments used his old income info from a previous job as income verification. I had no clue. Assumed everything was fine because apartment complex let him switch from a 1BR to a 2 BR so I could move in. Now the guy is not paying rent because he has no job. He was being evicted from the same apartments in Feb, they allowed the switch in March. Come to find out he was on unemployment. What can I do? I had no clue. Clean hands doctrine? They conspired and falsified info together on legal documents. Woman from apartments even got fired for doing it.

  • Patricia Maringer

    I do short term vacation rentals in my cabins. I have a NO PET policy for 20 yrs. now told by potential client she has a Maltase that is a SERVICE dog and if I dont let her rent she can sue me for discrimination. What is my recourse?? My dog roams the property and is very territorial – doesn’t like other animals.

  • Patricia Maringer

    I have short term vacation renters in my cabins. for 20 yrs I had a NO PET policy. Now a potential client wants to rent with a Matese which she says is a service dog. I said no because my dog roams freely and does not like other animals and may hurt her dog. She says I am discriminating and she can sue me. What is my recourse. I do not allow my dogs in any of the cabins.

  • Ashley

    First time renter problems! My bf & I were told 1,000 a month with our dogs being allowed by the husband. Month later the wife said no dogs so we offered $200 extra a month with a new lease stating that we could have them. The next month they wanted another $200 & said it had to be paid by the end of the day or we were out next week. We could not afford $1,400 a month. So the next week the wife showed up and said that the deal fell threw and they couldn’t buy the house that the old owners were moving back in so we moved In 2 days. Now she is trying to say we owe her $25,000 stolen stuff Our lease didnt say furnished. They bought the house like so and took all the valuables, and got a roll off and told us to throw away what we didnt want

  • David

    Hi I received a 48 hour towing notification for my personal vehicle. My vehicle is currently not on the road but it is running. I cannot afford a tag at this time. Does the landlord have the right to tow my vehicle?

  • Kat

    I had a one year contract that was not even a year contract(signed on Jan 27th and moved in on Feb the 13th) contract says from feb 1st til the end of December. I’m moving out by the end of this month and I told her last week. She says she won’t give me my deposit back since I broke the one year lease term but it wasn’t even a year. I looked through the contract and it doesn’t even says anything about an early termination fee. Does she have the right to keep my deposit? ($485)

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