North Carolina Residential Lease Agreement

Template | What to Include | Applicable Law

Get your free North Carolina residential lease agreement and read further about required disclosures in North Carolina lease agreements, optional addendums and more.

Template

Click here to view/download the direct PDF file.

“Should I even use a free lease agreement template?”

If you are a tenant simply looking to formalize your renting relationship, the above options will suffice. If you are a landlord, we seriously caution the use of free “one size fits all” templates due to the opportunity cost of an incorrect or incomplete lease agreement (think: premature lease-breaking, fines for non-disclosures, etc.).

With that said, unless you’re renting out 100+ units, you probably don’t need to spend a few hundred dollars of an attorney’s time to get one drafted. A few different law startups have created step-by-step legal document wizards that take 5-10 minutes, and only run you ~$30 for a lease agreement (or a few bucks a month for access to all document templates you’d need).

Quick Facts for North Carolina

Max Term

N/A

Max Security Deposit

1 month’s rent

Who Needs to Sign

Landlord, all tenants, and all co-signers or guarantors

Required Disclosures

Late Fees, Dishonored Payment Fees, Marijuana Use Policy, & Lead-Based Paint

Legal Early Termination

Beyond written mutual consent, a tenant can break their lease without penalty in North Carolina if they’re starting active military duty, the unit is considered uninhabitable, or the landlord violates their privacy rights. In these cases, the landlord must make reasonable effort to re-rent the unit. A landlord may break a lease in North Carolina for a number of reasons, including not paying rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing an illegal act. Before breaking a lease, the landlord must first serve the tenant written notice.

Addendums to Consider

Pets, Utility Allocation, Mold, & Criminal Activity

What’s in a North Carolina Residential Lease Agreement

To start, let’s make sure we’re on the same page:

DEFINITION

A residential lease agreement is a contract between a landlord and a tenant for the use of property for a fixed period in exchange for regular payments. By contrast, a rental agreement has no fixed period, and as a result, is usually month-to-month (read more). Residential lease agreements are governed by North Carolina landlord-tenant law.

Let’s now go through what you need to include in a residential lease agreement template in North Carolina. This includes:

Basic Elements of Residential Lease Agreements in North Carolina

A lease introduction clearly states the full names of the tenant(s) and landlord(s), the date of the agreement and a detailed description of the rental property.  It is critical to be as specific as possible when creating a lease introduction. The necessary components of a lease introduction are listed here:

  • Names of the tenant and landlord:  This is a small, yet crucial, piece of a residential lease agreement.  The residential lease should include the full legal names of all adults living in the rental property.  These names should be written or typed clearly. Shortened versions of names, abbreviations or nicknames should not be used.  This ensures that involved parties are held accountable in the event of legal action.  
  •  Date of the agreement:  The date of the lease should be fully written, indicating the month, day and year.  Dashes, slashes or abbreviations should be avoided to maintain clarity.  
  • Terms & Limits of Occupancy: This section defines the beginning and end date of the lease agreement, including provisions for any extensions. After any fixed periods, the contract can be week-to-week, month-to-month, quarter-to-quarter, or from year-to-year. The periods at which the rent is to be paid determine the tenancy.
  •  Address and description of the rental property:  Here, the explicit address of the property should be stated. The landlord’s address should also be stated. This portion of the lease introduction makes it clear to both parties which features of the property are included in the lease.  It should list all fixed and non-fixed features that are a part of the property. This may encompass:
    • Interior boundaries
    • Specific rooms
    • Stove
    • Refrigerator
    • Dishwasher
    • Microwave
    • Washer
    • Dryer
    • Balcony/patio
    • Light fixtures
    • Ceiling fans
    • Air conditioning units
    • Fireplace
    • Yard or other outdoor space
    • Fence
    • Garage
    • Driveway
    • Parking area
    • Shed/additional storage
    • Basement
    • Exterior fixtures
    • Grills
    • Pool
    • Children’s play structure
    • Furnishings, such as tables, chairs, beds, patio furniture or other items
  • Rent, Utilities & Security Deposits: The amount of the first month’s rent, security deposit, and the total amount of funds required need to be clearly outlined on the lease agreement. The method by which the funds are to be paid should also be included.
EXAMPLE

This is a lease (the “Lease”) […] between (Name of owner of the property) (“Landlord”) and (Name of person(s) to whom the property is leased) (“Tenant”), made this day of (Date).

TERM. The lease will be for a term of (Number of months) beginning on (Start date) and ending on (End date).

PREMISES. The premises is a (Type of dwelling i.e. house, apartment, etc.) located at (Address of rental property). The following features are included on the property (List of amenities).

RENT & UTILITIES. Tenants will pay a monthly rent of (Rent amount) on the (Day) of each month. Tenants are responsible for utilities including (List of utilities).

Indicating these features in the lease introduction provides tenants with a list of items that they have access to throughout the duration of the lease and informs tenants which features are expected to remain on-premises after the lease term is complete.  It also protects the landlord’s property upon the termination of the residential lease agreement

For landlords, this information should be used for verification purposes. Make sure to ask for current photo identification, such as a driver’s license, to verify each tenant’s identity. Once that’s verified, you’ll want to do background checks on all tenants 18 or older (see our guide here).

Required Disclosures in North Carolina

Late Fees

Landlords must disclose fees in the lease. Late fees may be charged only if the rental payment is five days or more late. For monthly payments, the maximum late fee is $15 or 5% of the monthly rent, whichever is greater. For weekly payments, the maximum late fee is $4 or 5% of the weekly rent, whichever is greater (NC Gen Stat 42-46(a)).

EXAMPLE

If Tenant fails to make a rent payment on Date of every month, they will be charged a fee of Dollar Amount for every day the rent is not paid.

Marijuana Use Policy

State law allows marijuana for medical use—limited to cannabis oil for intractable epilepsy only. No home cultivation is permitted. Landlords should disclose any related policies in the lease agreement.

EXAMPLE

MARIJUANA USE. The use of tobacco and cannabis in accordance with state law is allowed on the Premises. Prior written consent of the Landlord is required before medical cannabis may be grown on the Premises.

Lead-Based Paint Hazards

This isn’t Florida-specific, but if the unit being rented out was built before 1978, the landlord is required to do the following 3 things:

  1. Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the dangers of lead-based paint (see latest pamphlet PDFs here).
  2. Disclose any known information concerning lead-based paint in the unit (i.e. its location, condition, etc.), and include any records or reports about the paint or its hazards. For multi-unit buildings with common areas, this includes information from building-wide evaluations.
  3. Fill out and attach this disclosure form to the lease.

Pet Addendums in North Carolina

 The landlord must give written permission for a tenant to keep pets on the property. Pets are defined as dogs, cats, birds, fish, or other domestic animals of any kind.

The lease agreement shall specify how many animals the tenant can have and the type of animal.

Tenants are required to pay a pet deposit fee of an amount outlined in the lease, which is non-refundable. If provisions for maintaining a pet is not included in the lease, it shall be added as an addendum to the lease agreement.

NOTE

The signed pet agreement applies only to the pet specified in the signed contract. The pet addendum may not be substituted or transferred to any other pet. The landlord reserves the right to terminate the pet agreement if the tenant violates the terms of their contract.

Tenants are responsible for keeping their pets under control and not leaving them unattended for an unreasonable amount of time.

Tenants are responsible for their pets and any property damage caused by the pets.

It shall be the tenant’s responsibility to control any flea infestation because of their pets and to pay for the extermination of any and all affected areas.

The landlord is not liable for any injury that occurs from an attack or interaction with an animal, whether it occurs on or off the property. If an attack from an animal occurs and there is no fencing around the property, the landlord is not held liable because of the absence of a fence.

Although they are not required, the tenant is encouraged to obtain pet liability insurance if it is offered as a rider to their renter’s insurance policy.

After the lease has ended, the pet deposit will be used for cleaning the carpets or other areas damaged as a result of having pets on the premises.

Check out our sample of a pet addendum below.

This Addendum is made on [ DATE ] between [ LANDLORD’S NAME ] (Landlord) and [ TENANT’S NAME ] (Tenant), and is understood to modify the Residential Lease for [ PROPERTY ADDRESS ] originally dated [ DATE ].
1. PERMISSION

The landlord grants permission to the tenant to keep the domesticated pet(s) on the premises during the term of the lease agreement (INCLUDE LEASE START AND END DATE). The landlord may revoke permission at any time if the tenant fails to comply with any of the terms and conditions in the lease or following addendums.
2. SERVICE ANIMALS

Service, Guide, Signal, or Support animals are not “Pets” according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as long as the animal is being used by the tenant to support a disability or handicap, or if the tenant is training the animal(s).

 

If the tenant’s pet actually a Certified Service Animal or in training to be a Certified Service Animal? : _______ Yes _______ No
3. ANIMAL PROFILE

Type of Animal(s): Dog, Cat, Bird, Rabbit, Pig, Reptile, Fish (circle all that apply)
Name of Animal(s): ________________________
Weight of Animal(s): ______________________ (lbs.)
Breed of Animals(s): ______________________
Age of Animal(s): ________________________
Spayed or Neutered?: __________ Yes _______ No
Current on Vaccinations?: _______ Yes _______ No
Valid Animal Licenses?: _________ Yes _______ No

______________________________________
Tenant Signature
______________________________________
Landlord Signature

Applicable Law

Beyond what’s stated in a residential lease agreement, there are numerous laws that govern a rental arrangement. We’ll go through the most important ones below.

Security Deposits in North Carolina

North Carolina has laws on the books that limit the amount chargeable by a landlord for a residential lease security deposit. They are as follows:

  • Fixed-term leases: The security deposit cannot exceed two months’ rent.
  • Month-to-month leases: The security deposit cannot exceed one and a half months’ rent.
  • Week-to-week leases: The security deposit cannot exceed two weeks’ rent.

For all security deposits, the amount is considered owned by the tenant, but the landlord can use funds from this to repair damage to the premises, recoup unpaid utilities, or recoup any unpaid rent. North Carolina limits the period of time that a landlord may return the security deposit. The deposit is expected to be returned within 30 days, but if the landlord fails to return this due to difficulty calculating the value, then this can be lengthened to 60 days.

Breaking a Lease in North Carolina

Fixed-term leases typically have a one-year duration, and they are relatively convenient for most renters. With that stated, sometimes, a renter may wish to end a lease early, but to do so in most situations bears with it some steep penalties. For example, a landlord can sue the tenant for the amount of the remaining rent owed until the end of the lease. Also, the tenant may also be liable for the expense required to find a new tenant to replace the old one. Finally, breaking a lease also can bear with it some credit penalties, which it’s best to avoid. For this reason, a tenant that may be intending to move out may want to find a replacement renter to minimize the damage. Additionally, there are several state- and federally-backed exceptions where a tenant can break a lease without incurring these repercussions.

Eviction Process in North Carolina

As with other states, North Carolina has a notice process that allows the tenant to rectify any issues before the situation has to be resolved in the court system. The three notice types available in this state are the:

  • Immediate Notice to Quit (Non-Compliance)
  • 10-Day Notice to Quit (Non-Payment)
  • Seven-Day Notice to Quit (Month-to-Month)

It’s also worth noting that holdover tenants are also able to be evicted in North Carolina. These tenants are tenants that have had a full lease but have neglected to renew the lease. 

Other North Carolina Templates and Forms

Read About Residential Lease Agreements in Other States

Colorado

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Iowa

New York

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