General Statutes, Chapter 42, Landlord and Tenant govern landlord-tenant laws in North Carolina (NC). This set of statutes dictate what each party under the lease agreement needs to do.
The rental lease agreement in NC automatically terminates if either party fails to perform their responsibilities. This often has legal and financial repercussions. This, however, can be prevented if both parties understand the basics of the law.
Here’s an overview of the North Carolina landlord-tenant laws.
Landlord Rights & Responsibilities in North Carolina
The following are top landlord legal responsibilities:
1. Prepare a rental agreement or legally written lease
An NC rental agreement guides the landlord-tenant relationship. The landlord must include all crucial business details. For example, the amount of rent and how long the tenant can occupy the rental unit.
2. Provide habitable housing
It’s the landlord’s responsibility to keep the rental unit habitable. Failure to do so allows the tenants to pursue various options such as moving out.
3. Meet state security deposit limits and return rules
One of the biggest sources of dispute between tenants and landlords is the security deposit. N.C. General Statute 42-51 covers the handling of deposits.
4. Follow state rent rules
Landlords must follow the rent rules. NC landlord-tenant law regulates several rent-related issues, such as the amount of notice landlords must give tenants who haven’t paid rent.
5. Make legally required lead-based paint disclosures
Landlords may face hefty financial penalties for failure to comply with required federal disclosures regarding lead-based paint on the property.
6. Follow exact procedures for terminating a tenancy or evicting a tenant
To terminate a tenancy, landlords must follow specific eviction laws in NC.
7. Not to retaliate against a tenant who exercises a legal right
In North Carolina, it’s illegal to retaliate against a tenant who wishes to exercise their legal right.
Renters Rights & Responsibilities in North Carolina
It’s every tenant’s right in NC to:
- Not negligently or deliberately damage, deface, destroy, or remove any part of the property.
- Keep the premises clean.
- Dispose of waste in a clean and safe manner.
- Comply with building and housing codes.
- Notify the landlord of any repairs.
North Carolina Required Landlord Disclosures
In North Carolina, landlords must disclose the following information to tenants:
- Late fees. For weekly payments, the maximum late fee is four dollars or five percent of the weekly rent. For monthly payments, the maximum late fee is fifteen dollars or five percent of the monthly rent. In North Carolina, landlords can only charge late fees if the rental payment is late five days or more.
- Domestic violence. So long as a 30 days’ written notice is provided, victims can avail of early termination.
- Marijuana use policy. The state law permits the use of medicinal marijuana. However, it’s illegal to cultivate it.
- Dishonored payment fees. Each dishonored payment attracts a maximum fee of twenty-five dollars
- Shared utility arrangements.
- Mold disclosure. The landlord is required to disclose any structural damage, including but not limited to smoke, fire, water, mold, and insect damage.
North Carolina Tenant’s Right to Fair Housing
Both the State Fair Housing Act and The Federal Fair Housing Act cover every tenant in the state of North Carolina. The two laws prohibit landlords from discriminating against tenants.
Under the Fair Housing Act, it would be illegal to do any of the following:
- Use discriminatory statements in an advertisement to sell or rent the property.
- Alter the terms of the lease because they belong to a certain class.
- Refuse to sell or rent to someone because they belong to a certain class.
- Falsely stating that a rental unit isn’t available after discovering that a member belongs to a certain class.
- Decline to make reasonable accommodations to disabled persons.
It would be termed unfair if the landlord does the following things because of a tenant’s religion, sex, color, national origin, familial status, disability, or race.
NC Lease Agreements Laws
In North Carolina, a lease is a legally binding agreement. It’s the basis of the landlord-tenant relationship. It stipulates the duties and responsibilities of each party.
- A lease specifies the amount of rent, when it’s to be paid and how it’s to be paid.
- The term of the tenancy. The term of the tenancy can either be week-to-week, month-to-month or fixed-term.
- Limits on occupancy. A lease specifies who can live on the property. Any other person not included in the agreement would be considered subletting.
- Names of all tenants.
- Deposits and fees.
- Restrictions on tenant illegal activity.
- Landlord’s entry to the rental unit.
- Repair policy and regulations.
- The basis for lease termination and eviction.
Security Deposit Limit and Return
NC General Statute 42-51 covers the handling of deposits. Security deposits help cover unpaid rent and repairs that are beyond normal wear and tear.
- The deposit cannot exceed two weeks’ rent for a week-to-week lease agreement.
- The deposit cannot exceed one and a half months’ rent for a month-to-month lease agreement.
- For a lease term exceeding one month, the deposit cannot exceed two month’s rent.
Non-refundable pet deposits are allowed. However, NC General Statute 42-53 specifies that the amount asked must be within reason. There’s no statute requiring landlords to pay interest on the security deposit.
North Carolina Termination and Eviction Rules
The termination of a lease is specified by NC rental laws. North Carolina’s eviction laws state that a landlord may end a tenancy as a result of a tenant’s violation of a lease term. In so doing, the landlord must follow the due legal process. Otherwise, the eviction may fail.
Landlords can evict a North Carolina tenant for legitimate reasons such as:
- Failure by the tenant to pay rent. This is the most common reason for eviction. However, any eviction based on this reason can be overlooked if the landlord fails to provide habitable dwelling.
- Illegal or drug-related activity.
- Property damage.
- Lease violation. For example, unapproved subletting, unauthorized pets, and unapproved occupants.
- Expiration of lease.
NC Eviction Laws
Before filing an eviction lawsuit, a landlord needs to serve the tenant with a notice of eviction. The landlord must have a legal reason to do so. For example, the tenant’s failure to pay rent, or violation(s) of the lease.
The notice of eviction must state when the tenant should vacate the premises. It should also be personally served to the tenant. In North Carolina, the eviction notice served is dependent on the reason for eviction:
- Lease Violations: The eviction notice depends on the lease terms. If the lease contains a provision to remedy the violation, the tenant must act in compliance or face an eviction. On the other hand, if the lease doesn’t contain such a provision, the landlord can file for an eviction as soon as they learn of the violation.
- Holdover Tenant: This notice is served on tenants who refuse to move out at the end of their lease terms. The notice is dependent on the lease’s length. A one month’s notice should be served for a year-to-year lease. A seven days’ notice should be served for a month-to-month lease. And finally, a two days’ notice should be served for a week-to-week lease term.
- Non-payment of Rent: The landlord needs to serve the tenant a 10 days’ notice. Failure by the tenant to pay within the 10 days allows the landlord to file an eviction lawsuit against them.
- Criminal Activities: Here, the landlord can serve an “Unconditional Quit Notice.” This means that the tenant doesn’t have any other option but to leave. The landlord can file an eviction lawsuit immediately.
North Carolina Tenant Defenses
NC rental laws provide protection for tenants facing an eviction. The following are the most common defenses and counterclaims tenants use to win eviction cases in NC:
- The eviction notice was improperly served
- The allegations are false
- If, for criminal activity, the tenant had no knowledge of the activity. Or, made reasonable efforts to prevent it from happening.
- The eviction is based on discrimination
- The eviction is in retaliation against a tenant exercising their rights under the lease
- By accepting rent, the landlord waived the eviction
- The notice was irrelevant
- The lease violations aren’t significant enough to merit an eviction
North Carolina Late Fees and Other Rent Rules
Rent-related issues are regulated by state law. In North Carolina, the lease stipulates key rent rules. Some of these rules include:
- The amount of rent
- When rent is due
- Where rent is due
- How rent should be paid
- The consequences of paying rent late
- The amount of extra fee should a rent check bounce
- The amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
Landlords may charge a late fee if tenants don’t pay rent when it’s due. A late fee, under North Carolina rental laws, can’t be imposed until the rent is five days late. The late fee can’t also be higher than five percent of the rental payment.
North Carolina Notice and Entry Rules
North Carolina landlords don’t have to provide notice of entry prior to entering a tenant’s rental unit. Thus, a landlord may enter for any of the following reasons:
- Showing the unit to prospective tenants
- Non-emergency maintenance and repairs
Although it isn’t a legal requirement, most landlords still provide a 24 hours’ notice.
Hopefully, this article will help both landlords and tenants deal with many legal questions and problems without requiring a lawyer. That being said, this article is meant to be informational and not a substitute for professional legal advice.
If you require more information on landlord-tenant laws in North Carolina and would like to speak to a professional property manager in NC visit our home page, and we’d be delighted to help.