North Carolina Landlord-Tenant Law
The landlord-tenant relationship can often become tense when one party neglects their duties. For instance, a landlord who doesn’t respond to a tenant’s repair requests can place the tenant in a challenging situation where they may be forced to pay for the repairs themselves. While this might become a financial strain for the tenant, it also represents contractual and safety issues under North Carolina’s landlord-tenant law.
Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, you should typically be able to deal with legal issues without going to court. Some landlord-tenant disputes will leave you with no other option. Both parties need to know the basics of renting out a place, how to collect or pay security deposits, about fair housing laws, etc. This overview of key North Carolina landlord-tenant laws will help guide you.
The lease agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship. It is a legally binding contract detailing the responsibilities both the landlord and the tenant promise to uphold. In addition to specifics like amenities, renovations and other apartment features, the lease includes legal details like:
- The rent rate and payment schedule.
- Grounds for lease termination and eviction.
- The length of the leasing term (weeks, months or years).
- Roommate and guest policies.
- Repair policy and procedures.
- The security deposit amount and what it covers.
To ensure that they’re compensated for unpaid rent and repairs to property damages beyond normal wear and tear, landlords may charge new tenants a security deposit as a part of the lease agreement. The deposit typically amounts to one month’s rent (but does not qualify as the last month’s rent). North Carolina’s Tenant Security Deposit Act limits how much a landlord may charge:
- For a weekly lease agreement, the deposit cannot exceed two weeks’ rent.
- For a monthly lease agreement, the deposit cannot exceed 1.5 months’ rent.
- For a lease agreement term that’s longer than monthly, the deposit cannot exceed two months’ rent.
Upon the lease’s termination, the landlord may use the security deposit to pay for unpaid rent and repairs. However, they must also provide the tenant with a written notice itemizing the charges and refund the remaining balance of the deposit within 30 days after the lease’s termination. If no deductions are made, the landlord must return the full balance of the deposit within the same time period.
North Carolina Fair Housing Act
North Carolina prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on characteristics that are protected by the state’s Fair Housing Act. Specific actions like charging a higher security deposit rate may be considered discriminatory if the landlord does these things because of a tenant’s:
- Familial status
- National origin
The lease agreement typically clarifies the duties both the tenant and the landlord have to maintaining the rental property, including making repairs. North Carolina’s landlord-tenant laws also outline the basic responsibilities each party possesses in these matters.
The tenant is required to keep their rental property clean and safe. They are also responsible for repairing any negligent damages that weren’t a product of normal wear and tear caused by the tenant and any third-party visitor. If repairs are needed for damages beyond the tenant’s responsibility to fix, they must notify the landlord in writing of the repairs required.
The landlord is required to abide by all municipal and housing codes. They must respond to any tenant repair requests for damages beyond normal wear and tear and tenant negligence, including repairs to utilities and landlord-provided appliances. Additionally, landlords must maintain and make repairs to common areas.
Getting Legal Help from a North Carolina Attorney
While many landlord-tenant conflicts can be resolved without going to court, the laws involved in these conflicts are complex. If you find you are in need of legal counsel or advice, you should consider hiring a landlord-tenant lawyer to represent your interests.