In North Carolina, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by NC Gen Stat. § 42-42. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
|Landlord Responsibilities||Windows/ Doors, Hot/Cold Water, HVAC, Gas, Sanitation Facilities, Stairs/Railings, Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector.|
|Time Limit for Repairs||“Reasonable” Amount of Time|
|Tenant Recourse Options||
Applicable Dwelling Types in North Carolina
The implied warranty of habitability in North Carolina does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs||Not specifically addressed|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Yes|
Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
Landlord Responsibilities in North Carolina
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in North Carolina, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Yes|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Not addressed|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Yes|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Yes|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Yes|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Not addressed|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Yes|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Yes|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Yes|
|Provide a mailbox.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||Yes, if required|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Yes|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||Yes, if required|
Landlords in North Carolina should provide a fit and habitable dwelling unit. It is the landlord’s responsibility to comply with all building and housing codes and make all necessary repairs.
Landlords are required to treat rat infestations that are caused by issues with the building, such as large cracks or holes, but they are not required to treat rat infestations caused by the tenant’s actions.
Landlords are required to provide locks on exterior doors and locking mechanisms on all first-floor windows.
Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms
Failure to provide or repair a carbon monoxide or smoke alarm will result in a fine of up to $250 against the landlord.
Smoke alarms should have an Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc. listing and installed by the standards of the National Fire Protection Association or to the minimum standard of the smoke detectors manufacturer’s instructions.
A landlord must provide at least one carbon monoxide alarm per dwelling unit and shall be Operational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) approved and certified to the American National Standards Institute/Underwriters Laboratories Standards. The alarms must be installed by the standards of the National Fire protection Association or to the minimum standards of the manufacturer’s instructions.
Landlords are responsible for the repair or replacement of a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm within 15 days of written notice from the tenant.
Landlords are required to mitigate standing water or drainage problems and repair any leaks that could cause mold or contribute to a mosquito infestation. The landlord who is charging a tenant for water or sewer services must notify the tenant if the water supply exceeds a maximum contaminate level.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in North Carolina
Landlords are required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant.
- Sending Notice–All requests for repairs must be sent to the landlord in writing, except in emergency situations. The landlord shall be given a reasonable amount of time to get the repairs done. “Reasonable time” may depend on the nature of the required repair.
- Landlord Access –There is no current statute on the amount of notice required by the landlord in nonemergency or emergency situations.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in North Carolina
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Tenants may not withhold rent payments, unless the landlord agrees to it in writing, or a judge allows the tenant to withhold rent pursuant to a court order.
- Rent Abatement – North Carolina law allows tenants to seek money damages by way of rent abatement. To obtain a rent rebate, a tenant must file an action in Small Claims Court for the reduced value of the rental property.
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported on a city or county level to housing inspectors if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in North Carolina
It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant within 12 months of the latter exercising their legal rights by:
- Complaining to the landlord about a needed repair at the property.
- Filing a complaint to a government agency about a health or safety violation.
- Organizing or joining a tenant’s union.
Retaliatory conduct includes:
- Raising a tenant’s rent.
- Decreasing services.
- Refusing to make necessary repairs or perform maintenance.
- Harassing the tenant.
- Evicting the tenant.