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.

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821 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Deborragh

    I am six months into a 12-month and my apartment now wants a copy of my registration, car insurance and/or title. Is this legal or does the complex have to wait until my lease is up in December to add this to my new lease?

  • john archer

    Active R/E broker for over 30 yrs in NC – # 145270

    Question – If Landlord breaches lease -Tenant Security Deposit Act, in 2 specific ways – does award to tenant of full security deposit refund nullify landlord’s ability to sue for actual damages to unit (house) beyond normal wear and tear?

  • Larry Olson

    OUR LEASE: without notice if tenant holds over beyond initial term ” tenancy shall automatically become a year to year tenancy upon same terms and conditions contained herein. thereafter tenancy may be terminated by either landlord or tenant giving the other 60 days written notice prior to last day of the final period of tenancy.”
    1. tenant A wants out, not filed request, we are past the end of first year of lease (ended Feb 2018). Does “language” allow them to move before the end of the second year with 60 day notice or does it only allow moving out at end second year if they give 60 2. tenant B is 62 days from end of lease wants out if/when they find new place, not happening in next 2 days, are they stuck in lease another year?

  • Lorence Olson

    Says our lease: without notice if tenant holds over beyond initial term “tenancy shall automatically become a year to year tenancy upon same terms and conditions contained herein. thereafter tenancy may be terminated by either landlord or tenant giving the other 60 days written notice prior to last day of the final period of tenancy.”
    1. tenant A wants out, not filed request, we are past the end of first year of lease (ended Feb 2018). Does “language” allow them to move before the end of the second year with 60 day notice or does it only allow moving out at end second year if they give 60 2. tenant B is 62 days from end of lease wants out if/when they find new place, not happening in next 2 days, are they stuck in lease another year?

  • V. Shipman

    I am a widowed grandmother with two adopted grandchildren. I informed my landlord last month that I believe I may be eligible for housing assistance and may be moving soon depending on my eligibility. My landlord sent me a text msg demanding to know within the next 48 hours the name and contact information of the agency to which I have applied and my exact move out date or she will flea an eviction notice. My rent is paid. I have violated no terms of the month-to-month rental agreement. Is this considered a form of harrassment?

    • Feather1454

      I am not a lawyer or expert, but it seems to me that if you have a month-to-month lease it is terminable by either party for any reason at the end of any month that has not yet been paid.

  • Stu

    My tenant has incurred damages via breach of lease during the lease term and repairs have been made. The tenant now refuses to pay the damages but continues to pay rent. Two questions:
    1) Can I deduct the damages from rent payment? And claim rent shortfall?
    2) Can I evict for the unpaid incurred damages? I have no proof that the tenant is now abiding by the lease.

    What is the best solution. Right now considering the damages the deposit will be below one month’s rent if I do nothing.

  • Julie

    I moved out of my house that I was renting from a property management company due to the owner was selling the house. I cleaned the house very good and asked for the security deposit back. The owner put the house up for sale “as is” two days after moving out. He did no repairs to the house and on the real estate website they said “renters and house is clean inside and out” so I asked the property management company for my security deposit back as the owner did not do any work to the house. I have yet to receive the deposit back. Is there anything I can do to get the deposit back?

  • kaye

    live in a home for 22month I have been sick ever since I move there I found black mold inside my bedroom closet and in the other room which was my office I work in 85 percent of my time and found black mold there also found inside the closet call the landlord and a mold inspector found 4inches of dust in ac return that was only a few feet from the closets the landlord told me I might need to move since I was allergic to the mold all he did was spray mold inside the closets I have never been sick before then the contractor wrote a letter and gave it me to replace the whole 2 room I had to find a place to move fast do I have legal right to sue him I am still having problems with my health after 7months

  • Missy

    I have a 2 year lease to end in Spring of 2019 and my landlord told me that he is selling the townhome and that I have to move.
    No clause in my lease mentions the scenario about “if property is sold, then….”
    Do I have to move or is my lease good til end of term?

  • kiran

    Is it mandatory to mention number of children in the rental agreement (occupancy list ) for NC state

    • Carrie

      Yes, occupancy is mandated by the local housing authority limiting the number of persons per bedroom in a rental situation.

  • Dave Jones

    I am breaking my lease after 4 months of 12. In the signed agreement there is no mention of any fee, just that I am responsible for rent until someone else moves in. I am being charged a lease renewal fee that the management company says:

    “$200 lease renewal fee due to breaking the lease (Owner paid this when you renewed
    the lease and now has to pay another fee for this new tenant)”.

    Am I responsible for this?

  • Angel

    My neighbors moved out of the rental house next door. I know for a fact that there was blood one the wooden floor of the house multiple times. Those people were hiv positive…shouldnt the landlord have a professional xome and sterilize that house prior to new rentals?

  • Keba

    I move from different state to rocky mount nc do they got a law where u can put your rent in escrow into the landlord fix house suitable to live bec it was a fire and landlord still havent got place remolded or clean up so do yall got any suggesting

  • jason sosler

    im living with my mother and stepfather for two months as my moms primary care giver she is not mobile end stage cancer my stepfather is a cold narcissitic man my question is my mother is helpless without me am i a tenant that would now have to be evicted or guest tht could be told too leave

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    My apartment management pays for gas as per of our rental agreement. Legally, how long can our gas be off before something can be done? We’re on 72 hours of no hot water or way of cooking, with no answer on when it will return.

  • Leeanne

    I just moved into my rental. There is a tall list of things that need to be done on move out, which I am okay with. This gives me a guideline of what to expect on move in. The air conditioner doesn’t work and if flooding the garage, I was instructed to leave it off so that it does not cause any addition problems. Someone came out and looked at it and said that he would give the rental company his recommendations that the entire unit needs to be replaced. The ceiling fan doesn’t work, there is electrical issues with the kitchen lights. In less then a week i have had 2 large snakes in the garage and one in the house. They will not let me out of my lease to move out. any suggestions on renters rights.

  • Will

    So my wife and I just moved to north Carolina from new Hampshire yesterday. We had setup a house to live in Fayetteville we had friends go meet with the landlord to make sure he was real because we were running into a lot of scams.they confirmed him being real so we signed a lease and gave a pet deposit, security deposit,and a partial month rent being it in the middle of the month. When we arrived at the house all windows are painted shut ,there’s a light hanging from a ground wire,rusty fridge and a odor .at this point we want out and want to find something different ,but he us not cooperating .is there a way out of this? This has been difficult enough moving 900 miles now to be stuck in a place we won’t be happy for a year is stressful

    • Will

      Also we literally put our stuff in the house and now stayed elsewhere because there was no power or water so we haven’t even been there for 24 hours yet.

  • Tasha

    My boyfriend just moved in his house I am not on his lease but I have been over there for a. Couple of days and he got a call from his landlord saying they got word someone else was living there and he started to freak out he doesn’t havea and extra money to add me what would b most landlords do in this type of situation

  • Shereece

    Over the Summer, I was contacted and told that my apartment was infested with mold due to me leaving the windows in my living room cracked open. Prior to this incident, I had notified maintenance about my AC not working. Whenever I would turn on my AC, within an hour, the living room carpet would be wet. After four notifications to maintenance and the front office, nothing was ever done about this issue. The apartment was so humid and hot that I was forced to open my windows. With the AC not working in the apartment, I decided to go live at home (Lenoir, NC) for the rest of the summer. I left my apartment June 10th. On July 12th, I received a phone call informing me that my whole apartment was covered in mold. Every room, supposedly, had mold in it. I was told that mold was growing in my kitchen cabinets, my kitchen pantry and all over the walls of the apartment. Pembroke Pointe Apartments is trying to hold me liable for this mold infestation when it is really their lack of management and maintenance. They are trying to cover up themselves and place the blame on me. I was told that so much water from the rain got into my apartment and caused mold throughout the apartment. They want me to pay a total of $18,000 for the remodeling of the apartment.

  • Michelle

    no rental agreement was made or signed between me and landlord paid 2700 up front for 5 and a half months at 500 a mnth. in begining of july i applied to a different job. Due to a misunderstanding of communication between me and manger so im unemployed agressively looking emjployment. spoke with landlord aug the 7 about finacial situation and if front of my father he told me not to worrying about it when i start working we will work it out. two weeks later he said he is selling the house and has a buyer that will pay cash and ask me to see if i can finance it. so last week a friend of mine has been trying to help and today he said the lady at the bank told him it would take from an hour to 24 hours to know if he got the loan told the owner

  • Michelle

    previous commented ) he gets mad and states if my friend has good credit like he says there is no reason why he didnt walk out with the check we explained loan procedures are different now than what they were 14 years ago. he tries to argue about how it is not so i told my friend just lets go in cuz he is not trying to hear how the procedures are now roughly 10 minutes later landlords wife pulls up walks in without knocking and start yelling at my friend to get the f*** out of her house and property that nobody is going to put her husband down like he doesnt know s***. and not only was the friend in the home there was another couple with a child here visiting aswell. what do i do in this situation?

  • Jenn

    I am new to the state of NC and have not rented in 30 years but have been a landlord for many out of state. I’m temporarily renting and would like to know with the impending storm :
    If the premises are damaged to the point of being temporarily uninhabitable I understand that I will still pay my rent however who will be responsible for my lodging that I must find? Or am I forgoing rent and just paying for my lodging? I would appreciate any knowledge in this area. ~ Thanx in advance

  • Angry earth conscious mom

    Is it legal for landlords in NC to apply pesticides/herbicide around the tenants house (exposing children, animals and an organic garden to the glyphosphate poison found in the non organic herbicide they were using) ….
    …………………………without notifying the tenant first? Its illegal in the state of California, how about here? I cant find a clear answer. Thanks for letting me know.

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