In North Dakota, if rent is exchanged for inhabiting a property then a lease agreement exists, regardless of whether the agreement is written or oral. Under North Dakota law (ND Century Code Ch. 47) tenants have certain housing rights, including the right to a habitable dwelling, exercise some forms of alternative action, and more.
Landlords also have rights under North Dakota law, such as the right to collect rent and the right to deduct for costs from damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
In addition to the below, check your local country or municipality for local rules and regulations.
Landlord Responsibilities in North Dakota
Under North Dakota law, landlords have the responsibility to provide a habitable dwelling and to make requested repairs in a “reasonable” amount of time, although the term “reasonable” is not further defined. If landlords do not make requested repairs in a reasonable amount of time then tenants can make repairs on their own and deduct the cost of rent.
Landlords in North Dakota may or may not be responsible for the following:
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It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in retaliation for exercising their right to a habitable dwelling (i.e. filing a health or safety code violation).
Tenant Responsibilities in North Dakota
Apart from paying rent prompt and on-time, North Dakota tenants must:
- Maintain the unit in safe and habitable conditions
- Maintain cleanliness to a certain standard
- Perform minor maintenance and repairs
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors
Evictions in North Dakota
Evictions in North Dakota are generally pursued for 3 major reasons:
- Nonpayment of rent – If a North Dakota tenant does not pay rent on the required date, then after any applicable grace period, the landlord can issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. If the rent is still not paid then the landlord can pursue eviction.
- Lease violation – If a lease violation occurs then the landlord may issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit. the landlord may add guidance on how to remedy the issue but they are not required to. Either way, if the behavior is not fixed if the tenant does not move out, the landlord can file for eviction.
- Illegal acts – North Dakota landlords have broad authority to determine which illegal activities warrant eviction. If there is documentation of illegal activity on the premises, the landlord can issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit before filing for eviction.
At-will tenants are entitled to at least 30 days advance notice before terminating the lease. Also, it is illegal for landlords to evict tenants in retaliation or as a form of discrimination or for disclosing status as a domestic abuse victim.
Security Deposits in North Dakota
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – 1 month’s rent (2 months if tenants have a felony or have violated previous lease terms).
- Time Limit for Returns – 30 days.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a North Dakota landlord wrongfully withholds a security deposit, then they may be required to pay up to 3 times the deposit’s value.
- Allowable Deductions – Unit upkeep, missed rent payments, repair costs.
Lease Termination in North Dakota
Notice requirements. Tenants who wish to break a periodic lease must provide the following amounts of notice.
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Early termination. North Dakota tenants can break a lease early legally for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause
- Active military duty
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
- Domestic violence
North Dakota tenants may still be liable for paying the remainder of the rent. Landlords are also required to make a reasonable effort to re-rent a unit.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in North Dakota
- Rent control. Current North Dakota law preempts any kind of rent control policy on either a state or local level. As such, landlords can charge whatever they want for rent.
- Rental increases. Landlords are not limited in how much they raise rent but they must first give tenants 30 days’ advance notice.
- Rent-related fees. There are no limits on late fee charges, as long as they are explicitly included in the lease agreements. There is a $40 returned check fee limit.
Housing Discrimination in North Dakota
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, sex, familial status, religion, or disability. This law does not apply to homes operated by religious organizations and owner-occupied homes. State law adds further legal protections for marital status, receipt of public assistance, or status as a domestic abuse victim.
Discriminatory acts & penalties. North Dakota’s Department of Labor and Human Rights handles cases related to housing discrimination. The following actions have been noted as possible discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected class:
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
- Falsely denying unit availability
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Advertising that encourages or discourages certain groups from applying
- Representing the demographics of the neighborhood to encourage the sale or rental of a property
If you are a victim of housing discrimination then you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s website. If the complaint is found to be justified, the department may regulate a landlord’s ability to rent and findings can be used as the basis for civil litigation.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in North Dakota
Landlord Right to Entry in North Dakota
Landlords are required to give “reasonable” notice before entering a property though the law does not specify a minimum timeframe. Landlords and tenants can agree on entry notification policies in the lease. Landlords do not need to give notice to enter in the case of emergencies.
Small Claims Court in North Dakota
Small claims court in North Dakota will handle rent-related disputes totaling up to $15,000 but will not hear eviction-related cases. The statute of limitations on both oral and written contracts is 6 years.
Mandatory Disclosures in North Dakota
North Dakota landlords must make 1 mandatory disclosure:
- Lead-based paint. Landlords that own homes built before 1978 must provide information about lead-paint concentrations used in the building.
Changing the Locks in North Dakota
North Dakota law does not specify rules regarding changing the locks. Thus, it’s generally assumed that tenants must get permission from landlords before changing locks. Landlords are forbidden from changing the locks as a form of eviction (“lockouts”).
Additional Resources for North Dakota Renters
To learn more, please refer to the below digital resources.
Small Claims Court Self-Help – This article, produced by the North Dakota Court System, outlines all of the information both landlords and tenants need to know before filing a small claims case. This includes a list of all the forms that need to be filled out, as well as the procedural steps that occur after a case has been accepted.
Chapter 47-16 of the North Dakota Century Code – This section of the North Dakota civil code details nearly every law and regulation that applies to landlords and tenants in the state. This includes statutes not covered in this guide, including how abandoned units may be recovered and several supplementary protections afforded to domestic abuse victims.
Eviction for Landlords – The North Dakota Court System has published this article to outline how formal eviction orders are handled at a judicial level. This article may be invaluable to a landlord who is seeking to evict a tenant, too, because it includes links to all of the forms that must be filed with a civil court in order for an eviction case to be accepted.