North Carolina Renter’s Rights for Repairs

North Carolina Renter’s Rights for Repairs

Last Updated: June 9, 2023

In general, a landlord in North Carolina has to repair any issues at a rental property that could affect a tenant’s health or safety. The landlord must repair issues within a “reasonable time” of getting written notice from the tenant about the needed repairs.

North Carolina Landlord Responsibilities for Repairs

North Carolina landlords are responsible for keeping all of the following in good working condition:

  • Plumbing and sanitary facilities.
  • Required utilities.
  • Heating.
  • Potable water.
  • Properly closing and locking outside doors and ground-level windows.
  • Flooring, steps, ceilings, roofs, chimneys, and flues.
  • Required smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
  • Provided appliances.
  • Common areas.
  • Features that affect health, safety, or habitability.

If any of the above stops working properly, and the tenant isn’t at fault for the damage, the landlord is the one responsible for making the repairs necessary to fix it.

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What Repairs Are Tenants Responsible for in North Carolina?

North Carolina tenants are responsible for repairing any damage they cause to the property which affects health and safety.

Once the rental agreement is underway, the landlord and tenant can negotiate an agreement for the tenant to make specific repairs on the landlord’s behalf. The tenant must be compensated for any repairs done, and it can’t be a requirement of continuing the rental.

Requesting Repairs in North Carolina

North Carolina tenants must usually request repairs by providing the landlord notice about the issue that needs repair. Issues that affect utilities or appliances require written notice, unless there’s an emergency. Other issues only require the landlord’s actual knowledge, but written notice is often important for proving actual knowledge.

How Long Does a Landlord Have To Make Repairs in North Carolina?

North Carolina landlords have a “reasonable time” to make repairs after getting notice about an issue from the tenant. What’s reasonable is judged by all applicable circumstances.

Can the Landlord Refuse To Make Repairs in North Carolina?

North Carolina landlords cannot refuse to make repairs that are their responsibility. However, refusal to repair does not excuse the renter failing to keep the terms of the rental agreement. For example, a landlord who fails to repair can still evict for the tenant’s failure to pay rent.

Do Landlords Have To Pay for Alternative Accommodation During Repairs in North Carolina?

North Carolina landlords are not required to pay for alternative accommodation while they conduct repairs. However, a situation that requires the tenant to move out for repairs may be a constructive eviction that lets the tenant end the lease and stop paying rent after moving out.

Tenant’s Rights if Repairs Aren’t Made in North Carolina

North Carolina tenants can sue for a rent abatement or get an injunction to force repairs. In severe cases that substantially prevent the intended use of the rental property, the tenant can claim constructive eviction, move out, and end the lease.

Can the Tenant Withhold Rent in North Carolina?

North Carolina tenants are not allowed to unilaterally withhold rent. The tenant must have a court order to withhold payments. Getting back a portion of rent paid by suing the landlord, called rent abatement, is the primary remedy for North Carolina tenants when the landlord doesn’t do timely repairs.

Can the Tenant Repair and Deduct in North Carolina?

North Carolina tenants are not allowed to arrange for repairs and deduct from the rent.

Can the Tenant Break Their Lease in North Carolina?

North Carolina tenants can break their lease in cases of constructive eviction by moving out after a severe interference that substantially prevents the intended use of the rental property.

Tenants can also stop further rent payments and move out immediately when the property suffers more than one year’s rent worth of damage, provided they meet all the following conditions:

  • The lease doesn’t prohibit the use of this remedy.
  • The lease doesn’t specify what to do about repairs in the case of this type of damage.
  • The damage wasn’t the tenant’s fault.
  • The tenant pays all rent owed up to the date of damage.
  • The tenant gives the landlord written notice of the intention to move out, within 10 days of the damage occurring.

Can the Tenant Sue in North Carolina?

North Carolina tenants can sue to force repairs or recover a rent abatement (refund), when the landlord doesn’t make timely repairs after proper notice.

Can the Tenant Report the Landlord in North Carolina?

North Carolina tenants can report landlords for code violations that affect health or safety. Tenants should usually report to the local inspections or code enforcement department. If an inspecting officer finds a violation, the tenant could sue to force repairs or recover a rent abatement (refund).

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Landlord Retaliation in North Carolina

It’s illegal for North Carolina landlords to retaliate by attempting eviction against tenants. Tenants get protection when they’ve taken one of the following actions (or benefited from the government giving a citation against the landlord) in the past 12 months:

  • Good-faith complaints to the landlord or the government about failure to keep the property up to required standards.
  • Participating in a tenant organization.
  • Pursuing rights or remedies given by the law or lease.

The law allows exceptions for landlords who have a good-faith reason to evict that isn’t retaliatory. For example, if the landlord shows that the tenant stopped paying rent without legal permission, the landlord can still evict.

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