North Dakota Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on North Dakota landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to North Dakota landlord tenant statutes.

ND Landlord Tenant Law:

  • North Dakota Century Code Chapter 47-16 - Leasing of Real Property

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 $25 to $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

Before running background or credit checks on tenant applicants, landlords must first obtain the applicant's written permission. [Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)]

For landlords to run background and credit checks, the tenant application form needs to ask for the applicant's:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • social security number or ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number)
  • current address
  • signed consent (e.g. "I authorize the use of the information and contacts provided to complete a credit, reference, and/or background check.")

Avoiding Discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from rejecting prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, nationality, sex, *familial status or physical/mental disability. *Familial status means landlords cannot reject someone for having one or more children under 18. Familial status also includes pregnant women and people planning to have (or adapt) children under 18.

In addition, North Dakota landlord tenant law disallows landlords from rejecting someone as a renter because of age or marriage status. People on public assistance and victims of domestic violence cannot be discriminated as well.

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Tenancy Agreement

A tenancy agreement (also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement) can be written or verbal.

The landlord and tenant can choose between a month to month tenancy or fixed term lease. For a month to month tenancy, the landlord or tenant can change its terms and conditions at the end of every month. For a fixed term lease, the landlord and tenant CANNOT change the lease terms and conditions during its duration... unless there is written consent from both parties.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

North Dakota 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 Dakota landlord tenant law, the landlord can ask for up to one month's rent as security deposit. [ND 47-16-07.1.(1)]

If the tenant keeps a pet (that is not a *service animal), the landlord can ask for an additional pet deposit amounting up to $2500 or two month's rent (whichever is greater). *A service animal is an animal (usually a dog) that is trained to assist disabled people. [ND 47-16-07.1.(2)]

Holding Security Deposit

North Dakota landlord tenant law requires the landlord to hold the security deposit in an interest-bearing savings or checking account that is federally insured. [ND 47-16-07.1.(1)]

If the tenancy lasted for 9 months or longer, the landlord must pay the tenant security deposit interest when the lease terminates. [ND 47-16-07.1.(3)(c)]

Deductions and Returns

North Dakota 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 Dakota landlord tenant law) include [ND 47-16-07.1.(3)(c)]:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, tenant's guests or pets
  • Cleaning expenses to return the property to its original condition (before lease began)

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. [ND 47-16-07.1.(3)(c)] *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.

The tenant can sue the landlord for three times the amount of deposit that was wrongfully withheld. [ND 47-16-07.1.(4)]

Change of Property Owner

Once property ownership is transferred, the new owner will be responsible for refunding any security deposit (and interest) to the tenant at the end of the tenancy. [ND 47-16-07.1.(5)]

The previous owner is no longer responsible for the security deposit once he or she transfers it (plus interest) to the new owner.

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Fargo, North Dakota ND

North Dakota Landlord Tenant Law

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.

In the absence of a rental agreement, rent is payable at the end of each month. [ND 47-16-20]

Late Rent

There are no specific North Dakota landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

According to the North Dakota Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.

For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 30 days in advance. [ND 47-16-07]

For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The North Dakota Landlord Tenant Act requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition [ND 47-16-13.1]:

  • 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
  • Waste Disposal: Provide outlets for waste disposal and arrange for waste removal
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

North Dakota landlord tenant law also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition [ND 47-16-13.2]:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property 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 the property
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

The tenant should inform the landlord (in writing) of any property problems or defects. [ND 47-16-13] If the landlord fails to make repairs within a reasonable time, the tenant can EITHER:

  • make repairs and deduct the cost from rent (or recover the costs by other lawful means) OR
  • terminate the lease agreement.

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to North Dakota landlord tenant law, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Inspecting for damages
  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Showing the property to prospective buyers, tenants, contractors insurers or real estate agents

In the above situations, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice before entering the property. The landlord should enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours. [ND 47-16-07.3.(2)]

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to North Dakota landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations [ND 47-16-07.3.(1)]:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion
  • Tenant has abandoned the property
  • Tenant has severely violated the lease agreement

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Subletting

There are no specific North Dakota 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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Bismarck, North Dakota ND

Bismarck, North Dakota ND

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, North Dakota landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance [ND 47-16-15]:

Month to month 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 dependent is a victim of domestic violence

Immediate

Landlord violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

See below

Tenant or Dependent is a Victim of Domestic Violence

If the tenant or tenant's dependent is (OR might become) a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement without penalties by giving the landlord a written notice. [ND 47-16-17.1.(2)]

This notice must state the following:

  • Tenant fears imminent domestic violence from a person (who is named in a court order, protection order, restraining order or court record)
  • Tenant needs to terminate the tenancy
  • When the tenancy will terminate

The tenant can send this notice to the landlord by mail, fax or in person.

Landlord Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the landlord violated tenancy agreement or failed in his or her duties (see Landlord Duties and Responsibilities above), the tenant should inform the landlord in writing and give him or her a reasonable amount of time to correct the problem(s).

If the landlord fails to correct the problem(s) in the given time, the tenant can proceed to terminate the lease agreement. [ND 47-16-17.1.(2)]

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Eviction

According to North Dakota 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

3 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

See below

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a three day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and inform the tenant that he or she can choose to pay or move out. [ND 47-32-01.(4)]

If the rent is paid within three days, the tenant may stay. If the tenant tries to pay rent after three days, the landlord may refuse the rent and continue with eviction.

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the tenant misused or allowed others to misuse the property (e.g. using a residential home as a store) or fails in his or her duties (see Tenant Duties and Responsibilities above), the landlord can also send the tenant a written notice to terminate the tenancy. [ND 47-16-16]

Unlawful Eviction

According to North Dakota 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 unlawful methods or shuts off utilities, the tenant can sue the landlord for three times the amount of actual damages. [ND 32-03-29]

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

There are no specific North Dakota landlord tenant laws on when the property is considered abandoned by the tenant.

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

  • When is the property considered abandoned by the tenant? - Tenant hasn't paid rent for X days, Tenant has been absent from the property for X days (without informing the landlord)
  • After the property is abandoned, does the tenant have to continue paying rent until the landlord finds a new tenant?

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If the tenant's abandoned belongings are worth $2500 or less, the landlord must inform the tenant where the belongings are stored AND give the tenant at least 28 days to recover them. The landlord can deduct money from the security deposit to pay for the costs of moving and storing the abandoned belongings.

If the tenant did not retrieve the belongings within 28 days, the landlord can choose to destroy, dispose or sell the belongings. [ND 47-16-30.1]

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Resources

North Dakota Landlord Tenant Law: North Dakota Century Code - Leasing of Real Property

North Dakota Landlord Tenant Handbook: Landlord and Tenant Rights in North Dakota

North Dakota Eviction: Eviction for Tenants - An Informational Guide to a North Dakota Civil Court Process

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