In North Carolina, a rental agreement becomes valid once both the landlord and tenant agree to follow the terms of a written or oral lease agreement. Once this step is completed, North Carolina landlord-tenant laws automatically grant both parties certain rights and responsibilities. 

As a landlord, it’s crucial that you familiarize yourself with the provisions of these laws in order to avoid future potential legal issues with your tenants. The following is a basic overview of the North Carolina landlord-tenant law.

Required Landlord Disclosures in North Carolina

The following are the mandatory disclosures that you must provide to your North Carolina tenant.

Lead-Based Paint

This is a federal law that specifically targets rental properties built prior to 1978.

Late Fees

According to North Carolina law, you have to disclose that you charge a late rent fee in the lease.

Water Contamination

You must notify your tenant whenever water contaminant levels exceed the state’s guidelines.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities in North Carolina

The NC General Statutes Chapter 42 Article 5 grants North Carolina tenants the following rights. 

The right to:

  • Live in peace and quiet.
  • Occupy a habitable rental property that abides by the state’s warrant of habitability doctrine.
  • Have repairs made within a reasonable period of time after requesting them.

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  • Continue occupying the property until landlords pursue legal eviction. 
  • Terminate the lease without any penalties for certain legally justified reasons including domestic violence, the property becoming uninhabitable or the tenant beginning active military duty.
  • Be treated fairly regardless of certain protected classes, such as race, color, and national origin.

In addition to legal rights, North Carolina tenants also are responsible for:

  • Abiding by the terms of the lease agreement.
  • Paying rent every month in accordance with the lease terms.
  • Complying with all housing and building codes.
  • Ensuring all waste is disposed of in a safe manner.
  • Ensuring the property is kept clean and sanitary.
  • Notifying the landlord, in writing, about any maintenance issues.
  • Respecting the peace and quiet enjoyment of neighbors or other tenants.
  • Taking good care of the rental unit by not causing negligent property damage.

Landlord Rights and Responsibilities in North Carolina

Landlords have the following rights in the state of North Carolina. The right to:

  • Screen prospective tenants who apply to live in their rental space.
  • Charge tenants security deposits as part of their move-in costs.
  • Evict a tenant for violating the terms of the lease agreement.
  • Draft lease policies, such as pet or smoking policies.
  • Enter the property to carry out important responsibilities as outlined by the rental agreement.

Landlord responsibilities include:

  • Treating tenants fairly as per the provisions of the North Carolina Fair Housing laws.

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  • Responding to maintenance requests on time.
  • Providing a habitable rental unit that abides by all relevant safety, health and structural codes.
  • Ensuring tenants enjoy their unit in peace and quiet.
  • Following proper legal procedures when evicting a tenant for violating the terms of the lease.
  • Providing the tenant with certain mandatory disclosures.

An Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in North Carolina

Landlord Entry

North Carolina has yet to legislate the notice period a landlord must provide their tenant prior to entry. As such, you can legally enter your tenant’s unit without providing them any advance notice. 

That said, repeated entries can lead to potential harassment lawsuits. To protect yourself from such an issue, make sure your written rental agreements detail the minimum notice that you will provide to your tenant prior to entering the property.

The reason for the entry must also be within reason. Examples of legitimate reasons include the following:

  • To show the unit to prospective tenants, buyers or lenders.
  • To inspect the unit for damage.
  • Under court orders.
  • In the event of an emergency.

Housing Discrimination

The North Carolina Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination by landlords on the basis of certain protected classes. 

  • These include: 
  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Nationality 
  • Familial status 

north carolina fair housing laws

The only exceptions to these laws apply to owner-occupied homes, homes operated by religious organizations and homes with a maximum of 4 units.

Rent Increases

As a landlord in North Carolina, you’re free to charge whatever amount of rent you wish. That’s because North Carolina laws currently prohibit rent control at both state and municipal levels.

However, there is a cap on how much landlords can charge for late fees. For tenants on a month-to-month lease, you must not exceed a late fee of $15 or 5% of the monthly rent. For week-to-week tenants, the limit is capped at 5% of the weekly rent.

Early Lease Termination

Normally, tenants in a fixed-term lease must continue to pay rent for the entire lease period – whether or not they live there. However, are exceptions to this rule. 

A tenant can legally terminate their lease for any of the following acceptable reasons:

  • They are uniformed members of the US Military and are beginning active duty.
  • The unit no longer abides by the state’s warrant of habitability.
  • In the event of landlord harassment.
  • The landlord violates one or more of the terms of the lease agreement.
  • There is an early termination clause in the lease agreement.

In all of these cases, the tenant won’t be liable for paying any penalty for terminating their lease early.

Security Deposits

North Carolina landlords must abide by certain security deposit rules. If a landlord fails to abide by these security deposit laws, tenants choose to pursue legal action and take their landlord to small claims court. 

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The following are some of those rules:

  • Charging the proper limit in accordance with the length of the lease. For instance, landlords can charge a maximum security deposit of 1.5X the rent amount in a month-to-month lease.
  • Only making deductions for legitimate reasons. These reasons include a tenant failing to pay rent or causing damage exceeding normal wear and tear.
  • Returning a tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of their moving out. 
  • Storing a tenant’s security deposit in either a trust account or in the form of a bond.

Bottom Line

As a North Carolina landlord, it’s critical to have a working knowledge of landlord-tenant laws. Not only will knowing these laws help you create healthy relationships with your tenants, but will protect you from potential legal issues.

However, keeping up with legal amendments can be tricky! To ensure your property is in compliance with all federal, state, and municipal laws – reach out to Keyrenter Raleigh today!

With our comprehensive property management services and expert knowledge on everything from security deposit laws and eviction processes to rent payments and financial reporting, we help property owners achieve their investment goals and grow their ROI!

Disclaimer: Please note that laws are subject to change and this blog post may not be updated at the time you read it. The information in this post is not a substitute for expert legal advice from a licensed attorney.