North Carolina Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on North Carolina landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the North Carolina Landlord Tenant Act.

NC Landlord Tenant Law:

  • North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 42 - Landlord and Tenant

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

However if the dwelling has four or less rental units and the landlord lives in one of them, then he or she won't have to follow the above Fair Housing laws.  42 U.S.C. § 3603(b)

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

North Carolina landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

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Security Deposit

According to North Carolina landlord tenant statutes N.C.G.S. § 42-51.(b), the following is the maximum amount of security deposit that the landlord can ask for:

Week to week tenancy

2 weeks

Month to month tenancy or longer - Monthly rent is $2000 or less

2 months

Month to month tenancy or longer - Monthly rent is over $2000

No limit

If the tenant keeps a pet (that is not a *service animal), the landlord can ask for an additional pet deposit. This pet deposit can only be deducted for pet-related damages. *A service animal is an animal (usually a dog) that is trained to assist disabled people.  N.C.G.S. § 42-53

Holding Security Deposit

North Carolina landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in a trust account or provide a bond from an insurance company. Once the tenancy begins, the landlord (or landlord's agent) has to let the tenant know the name and address of the institution holding the deposit within 30 days.  N.C.G.S. § 42-50

Deductions and Returns

North Carolina landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions under North Carolina landlord tenant law N.C.G.S. § 42-51 include:

  • Rent and utility costs (water, sewer, electrical) owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant violating the lease agreement or failing in his or her duties
  • Costs of re-renting the property due to the tenant violating the lease agreement or failing in his or her duties
  • Costs of moving and storing the tenant's belongings after eviction
  • Court costs and other fees under N.C.G.S. § 42-46

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.  N.C.G.S. § 42-52

If the landlord fails to follow North Carolina landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, he or she shall not be allowed to keep any part of the deposit. In addition, the tenant can sue the landlord for damages and attorney fees.  N.C.G.S. § 42-55

Change of Property Owner

If the landlord transfers his or her ownership of the property to another person by sale, assignment, appointment or death, the landlord (and landlord's agent) won't be responsible for the deposit once they do the following within 30 days:

  • Transfer the security deposit (after any deductions) to the new owner and inform the tenant of the new owner's name and address OR
  • Return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant  N.C.G.S. § 42-54

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Charlotte, North Carolina NC

North Carolina Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

Late Rent

If rent is paid every week, the landlord can charge a maximum late fee of $4 or 5% of the weekly rent (whichever is higher).   N.C.G.S. § 42-46.(a)(1)

If rent is paid every month, the landlord can charge a maximum late fee of $15 or 5% of the weekly rent (whichever is higher).   N.C.G.S. § 42-46.(a)(2)

Raising Rent

There are no specific North Carolina landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The North Carolina Landlord Tenant Act N.C.G.S. § 42-42 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Smoke Alarms: Install and maintain smoke alarms
  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms: Install and maintain smoke detectors

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

North Carolina landlord tenant law N.C.G.S. § 42-43 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Cleanliness: Keep the property and its common areas clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in rental unit clean (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide: Inform the landlord in writing if the alarms need to be repaired or replaced

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

North Carolina landlord tenant law requires the landlord to install, replace or repair a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm within 30 days of receiving written notice from a tenant or government agent. If the landlord fails to do so, he or she shall be fined up to $250 for each violation.  N.C.G.S. § 42-44.(a1)

If the tenant damaged an alarm, he or she must pay the landlord to replace or repair it within 30 days of receiving written notice. If the landlord fails to do so, he or she shall be fined up to $100 for each violation.  N.C.G.S. § 42-44.(a2)

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Property Access

There are no North Carolina landlord tenant statutes on when and how the landlord can enter the property.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When does the landlord require the tenant's permission to enter the property?
    Examples: Making repairs, supplying essential services, inspecting for damages, showing property to prospective buyers or tenants
  • How long in advance should the landlord inform the tenant before entering the property?
  • When is the landlord allowed to enter the property without the tenant's permission?
    Examples: Handling emergencies (such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion), tenant has abandoned the property
  • What are the penalties if the tenant refuses the landlord's valid request to enter the property?
  • What are the penalties if the landlord enters the property without the tenant's permission or without a valid reason?

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Subletting

There are no specific North Carolina landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Raleigh, North Carolina NC

Raleigh, North Carolina NC

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, North Carolina landlord tenant law N.C.G.S. § 42-14 requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance:

Week to week tenancy

2 days

Month to month tenancy

7 days

Year to year tenancy

1 month

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Tenant or child is a victim of domestic violence

30 days

Tenant is deployed in the armed forces

30 days

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Tenant or Child is a Victim of Domestic Violence

If the tenant or tenant's child is (a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a 30 day written notice to quit.  N.C.G.S. § 42-45.1

This notice must a a safety plan plus ONE of the following documents

  • Protection order against the offender
  • Criminal restraining order against the offender
  • Address confidentiality program card

Tenant is Deployed in the Armed Forces

North Carolina landlord tenant law allows a service member of the US armed forces to terminate the tenancy agreement if ONE of the following conditions is met: 

  • Service member received orders for a permanent change of station that is 50 miles or more from the rental unit
  • Service member is discharged or released (prematurely or involuntarily) from active duty
  • Service member is deployed with a military unit for a period for 90 or more days
  • Service member dies during active duty

The tenant may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord a 30 day written notice to quit AND a copy of the military orders or written verification signed by the service member's commanding officer.  N.C.G.S. § 42-45.(a)

If the service member dies during active duty, a family member or representative may terminate the rental agreement by giving the landlord with a 30 days written notice to quit AND one of the following documents: death certificate, military personnel casualty report or commanding officer letter (verifying the death).  N.C.G.S. § 42-45.(a3)

The service member will have to pay (pro-rated) rent up to the termination date.

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is so badly damaged that it will cost more than one year's rent to repair it, the tenant can terminate the tenancy immediately by giving the landlord a written notice to quit within 10 days of property destruction (as long as the damage isn't caused by the negligence, misuse or abuse of the tenant or a related person).

After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or natural disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.  N.C.G.S. § 42-12 

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Eviction

According to North Carolina landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

10 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

See below

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a ten day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice should state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out. If the rent is paid within ten days, the tenant may stay.  N.C.G.S. § 42-3

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

For details and case studies, See Page 6 of North Carolina Private Landlord Tenant Law Overview.

Unlawful Eviction

According to North Carolina landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with (the unlawful methods above) or shuts off utilities, the tenant can choose to regain possession of the property or terminate the lease agreement.  N.C.G.S. § 42-25.9

In addition, the tenant can also sue the landlord for actual damages.

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

According to the North Carolina landlord tenant laws N.C.G.S. § 42-25.9.(e), tenant has abandoned the property when ALL three conditions are met:

  1. Tenant is late in paying rent
  2. Tenant did not inform the landlord that he or she will be away from the property
  3. Tenant did not respond within 10 days after landlord has posted notices of suspected abandonment inside and outside the property.

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If the tenant's abandoned belongings are worth $750 or less, the landlord shall deliver them to a nonprofit organization that will hold them for 30 days without charging fees.

Next the landlord has to post a written notice at the rental unit stating the name and address of the nonprofit organization holding the items. The tenant won't have to pay any fees for recovering his or her belongings from the nonprofit organization within 30 days.  N.C.G.S. § 42-25.9.(d)

If the tenant's abandoned belongings are worth more than $750, the landlord should file an eviction lawsuit and obtain a writ of possession.

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Resources

North Carolina Landlord Tenant Law: North Carolina Landlord and Tenant Act

North Carolina Landlord Tenant Handbook: North Carolina Private Landlord Tenant Law Overview

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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