North Carolina Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

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North Carolina Landlord-Tenant Law SummaryAre there rent control/rent stabilization policies or laws in North Carolina?
The state of North Carolina has not established rent control or stabilization practices.

What is the maximum amount I can collect as a security deposit?
Security deposits may not exceed the following amounts:

  • If rent is collected weekly, the landlord may require an amount equal to 2 weeks rent.
  • If rent is collected monthly and there is no written lease, the landlord may require an amount equal to 1 and a 1/2 month’s rent.
  • If there is a lease for more than a month, the landlord may require an amount equal to 2 months.

Please Note: The landlord must give the tenant written notice of the name of the bank that is holding the tenant’s security deposit or the name and address of the insurance company providing a bond to cover the security deposit.

My tenant has moved out, what do I do with their security deposit?
The original language of NC Gen. Stat. § 42-52 required that all landlords must itemize any deductions from the security deposit and refund any remaining balance to the tenant within 30 days after the tenant relinquishes tenancy and vacates the unit. However, in consideration of the difficulty some landlords had in determining the extent of the damages and the cost along with generating or furnishing invoices for the repairs; the landlord now has up to 60 days to provide an itemization and accounting if this cannot be determined within 30 days.

What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?
At times landlords may try claiming deductions for items that are often characterized by the court as normal wear and tear. This situation may be prevented by realistically evaluating each deduction, providing proof of damage as well as including repair receipts and pictures.

May I charge an application fee, late rent charge or a returned payment fee?
Reasonable cost should always be kept in mind when initiating any charges. There are no restrictions or limits placed on the collection of an application fee. Once a rental payment is 5 days late or more, a landlord may assess a late fee which may not exceed $15 or 5% of the rental payment, whichever is greater. The processing fee which may be charged and collected for a check on which payment has been refused by the bank because of insufficient funds is not to exceed $25. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 25-3-506.

How can I end a North Carolina lease agreement?
For month to month tenancies, the lease may be terminated by a notice of 7 days before the end of the current month of tenancy. If the lease is yearly, then written notice shall be given 30 days before the end of the current term of tenancy. With regards to a week to week tenancy, the lease may be terminated by a notice of 2 days before the end of the current week of tenancy. Regardless of the term, if the rental is a manufactured home, the tenant must give 30 day's notice before vacating.

Are there circumstances where I am required to release a tenant from a lease agreement?
A landlord may be forced to release a tenant from a contractual agreement when the dwelling unit or premise is damaged and/or destroyed by fire or casualty not caused by the tenant, deeming the rental property unlivable.

Additionally, any member of the US Armed Forces who is required to move pursuant to permanent change of station with orders to depart 50 miles or more from the leased property is released from the rental agreement. Military person must provide at least 30 days notice to the landlord. In addition, any military person who is deployed for more than 90 days may terminate their lease with written notice which will become effective 30 days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due, or 45 days notice, whichever is shorter.

Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, may terminate their lease with 30 days written notice along with a copy of the valid order of protection/other restraining order/address confidentiality card.

My tenant has not paid rent; how much notice do I have to give a tenant in order to evict them?
If the tenant has breached the lease, then the landlord must notify the tenant of the breach and termination of the lease. This notice should be written and also contain a demand for possession of the property, as well as a statement to the reason(s) why the landlord is terminating the lease and/or a demand for all monies due.

If the landlord then wishes to file an eviction, a 10 day notice to vacate must either be given to the tenant or posted on the door of the premises. The day of posting does not count, nor does any day in which the court is not open such as holidays or weekends.

How long does the eviction process take?
As with any legal matter, exact timing is almost impossible as it depends on many factors. Overall, with no complications, the eviction process usually takes approximately 4-5 weeks.

What are the Landlord’s legal rights when a tenant remains after a lease has ended or been terminated?
The landlord may terminate the tenancy upon express notification. If the tenant remains, the landlord may remove the tenant through the courts with an eviction known as summary ejectment.

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter's insurance?
Landlords may require tenants to obtain rental insurance, and can make the failure to do so a breach of the lease agreement.

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?
Often times it’s best to look for the obvious, such as removal of personal goods, whether or not the tenant has come back to the premises at any time during a one week period, and simply no food in the refrigerator. It’s extremely important to document all of the “proof” gathered in order to determine abandonment. When in doubt, if payment of rent has not been made, the landlord may always file for eviction.

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?
A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the Lease.

Do I have to give the tenant notice before I enter the rental property?
There are no statutory regulations regarding a landlords right to enter the leased premises. However, landlords should exercise caution and use reasonable judgment.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. The answers to the questions may vary depending on your factual situation. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

Additional North Carolina rental resources are available, and legal questions about NC landlord-tenant law can be asked (and answered) through our ezLandlord Forum.

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