North Carolina rental agreements are valid if they are written or verbal. When a rental agreement is entered between a landlord and a tenant, North Carolina law (NC General Statutes Chapter 42 Article 5) automatically provides certain rights to the tenant, including the right to a safe and habitable rental unit and the return of the security deposit.
North Carolina landlords also have certain rights, such as the right to prompt and full rent payment and the right to recover the unit if the tenant fails to pay rent.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in North Carolina
Landlords in North Carolina must maintain an inhabitable property and make requested repairs in a timely and reasonable manner. If they do not, tenants may file an action in Small Claims Court for rent abatement, tenants may not withhold rent unless it is ordered by the court.
Below is a list of common items that North Carolina landlords are or aren’t responsible for.
|Electricity and Wiring||Yes|
|Heating & cooling||Yes|
|Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors||Yes|
North Carolina landlords must provide repairs to the listed amenities within the timeframe specified by the lease agreement.
Tenant Responsibilities in North Carolina
Aside from paying rent in a timely manner, North Carolina tenants must:
- Comply with all building and housing codes.
- Maintain a safe and habitable condition in the property.
- Dispose of all waste in a clean and safe manner.
- Keep fixtures and other components clean and sanitary.
- Inform landlord in writing, of any replacement or repairs of the smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector.
- Not unreasonably disturb neighbors or other tenants.
- Not deliberately or negligently destroy or damage any part of the premises.
Evictions in North Carolina
North Carolina tenants can be evicted for a number of reasons. The most common reasons for eviction in North Carolina are:
- Nonpayment of Rent – If a North Carolina tenant does not pay rent when it’s due, landlords may issue a 10-day Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not pay within 10 days, landlords can pursue legal eviction.
- Violation of Lease Terms – If a North Carolina tenant violates the terms of their lease agreement, then landlords may proceed with an eviction lawsuit and without any prior notice.
- No Lease/ End of Lease- If a tenant stays in the rental unit after the rental term has ended, the landlord can issue a Notice to Quit. The amount of time required in the notice depends on the type of tenancy.
- Week-to-Week – 2-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month – 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Year-to-Year –30-Day Notice to Quit.
- Manufactured Home – Regardless of how long a tenant has occupied the rental space of a manufactured home, landlords must provide tenants with a 60-Day Notice to Quit.
- Illegal Acts – Landlords do not need to give a tenant prior notice before beginning an eviction suit. Illegal activity includes criminal activity that affects the health, safety or peaceful enjoyment of other tenants or illegal use, possession or manufacture of a controlled substance.
Landlords are prohibited by law from evicting tenants in retaliation or as a form of discrimination.
Security Deposits in North Carolina
- Standard limit/Maximum amount:
- Week-to-Week – Two weeks’ rent
- Month-to-Month – 1.5 months’ rent
- Greater than Month-to-Month – 2 months’ rent
- Time limit – 30 days
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – North Carolina does not have standardized rules regarding unreturned security deposits. However, tenants can pursue a lawsuit against landlords that withhold a security deposit.
- Deductions – Unpaid rent, utilities, damages caused by the tenants that is more than wear and tear, court costs, cost of removal and storage of abandoned property.
- Standard limit/Maximum amount:
Lease Termination in North Carolina
Notice Requirements. North Carolina tenants are entitled to a notice of lease termination in advance.
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Early Termination. Tenants can legally terminate a lease in North Carolina for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause in the lease
- Active military duty
- Habitability violation
- Landlord harassment
- Lease agreement violation
Rent Increases & Related Fees in North Carolina
- Rent control. North Carolina legislation currently prohibits rent control on both a state and local level. Thus, landlords can charge as much as they want for rent.
- Rent increases. North Carolina landlords can raise tenants’ rent for whatever reason without prior notice.
- Additional fees. North Carolina landlords may charge up to $15 of 5% of monthly rent in late fees for month-to-month renters, and 4$ of 5% of rent for week-to-week renters. Landlords cannot charge more than $25 for returned check fees.
Housing Discrimination in North Carolina
Protected groups. North Carolina landlords are prohibited from discriminating against classes outlined in the Fair Housing Act. This law does not apply to owner-occupied homes, homes with 4 or fewer units, and homes operated against religious organizations. North Carolina does not offer additional protections to classes not outlined in the Fair Housing Act.
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. Discrimination complaints in housing are handled by the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings’ Civil Rights Division. The following practices could be considered discriminatory:
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
- Refusing to make reasonable accommodations
- Providing different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Lying about unit availability
- Advertisements that imply a preference for or against certain types of tenants
- Encouraging tenants to move based upon perceived changes in neighborhood demographics
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in North Carolina
Landlord Right to Entry in North Carolina
North Carolina law has no legal provision regarding landlord’s right to entry. Thus, landlords are generally allowed to enter inhabited properties without notice. As such, landlords are also allowed to enter without permission or notice in case of emergencies. Landlords and tenants can create agreeable notice policies in the lease agreement.
Small Claims Court in North Carolina
North Carolina small claims court will hear rent-related cases amounting to less than $10,000.
Mandatory Disclosures in North Carolina
North Carolina landlords are required to make these mandatory disclosures to tenants:
- Lead-Based Paint – Houses built after 1978 must disclose the concentrations of lead in paints and finishes.
- Late Fees – Any late fee must be disclosed in the lease agreement to be enforceable.
- Water Contamination – The landlord must disclose and provide notice of contaminant levels exceeding the guidelines provided by the state.
Changing the Locks in North Carolina
North Carolina generally does not have legal rules regarding whether tenants or landlords can change locks. However, domestic violence victims may request a lock change within 48 hours if the abuser lives in the same dwelling. If the landlord does not comply, victims are allowed to change locks on their own, provided they give the landlord a new key within 48 hours.
North Carolina landlords are forbidden from changing tenant locks as a form of retaliation.
Local Laws in North Carolina
The city of Charlotte has a minimum housing code that goes beyond the state’s habitability requirements. New Charlotte law strengthens the enforcement of code violations.
Local ordinances in Durham impose additional legal responsibilities on property owners, including setting reasonable occupancy limits and tougher standards for rat-proofing. There are also local ordinances on trash collection and disposal.
There are also additional county or municipality rules and protections for both landlords and tenants, so please check those as well.