North Carolina landlord-tenant laws are typically landlord-friendly. As a landlord, you have broader power to increase rent, evict a difficult tenant, and access rented premises without permission.
Understanding the statewide landlord-tenant law is important when renting out your property. It'll help you better understand your tenants' rights, as well as your landlording responsibilities.
The following is a basic overview of the North Carolina landlord-tenant laws:
Required North Carolina Landlord Disclosures
All over the country, landlords must make certain disclosures prior to their tenants signing the lease agreement. In the state of North Carolina, landlords must specifically make the following information known to tenants:
Lead paint is hazardous. It can cause delayed development, and damage to the kidneys and nervous system. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead paint.
It's for these reasons that the use of lead paint was banned in 1978. Landlords renting out buildings built prior to the ban must make that information known to their tenants.
Mold also poorly affects health when present in a home. Related to mold, you must also let your North Carolina tenant know about any structural damage the property has. This includes damage caused by insects, smoke, fire, water, as well as mold.
Have you expressly agreed in the lease to be responsible for any utilities to the tenant's dwelling? If so, your tenant can hold you liable for any disconnections or disruptions that may occur as a result of nonpayment on your part.
North Carolina Tenant Rights & Responsibilities
After lease signing, both parties to the lease are provided certain rights and responsibilities. Both parties must also uphold their end of their bargain until the lease expires.
So, what rights do North Carolina tenants have once they sign the lease agreement? They have a right to:
- Live in a rental that is habitable and meets all the state and local safety, health and building codes.
- Live in quiet enjoyment of their rented homes, devoid of any unnecessary disruptions.
- Remain in the property until the landlord has followed proper procedure to evict them.
- Be notified when the landlord is seeking to make changes to the lease agreement.
- Withhold rent or exercise the right to "repair and deduct" if the landlord fails to take care of important repairs.
Renting a property in North Carolina also comes with some responsibilities. A tenant must:
- Notify their landlord before moving out.
- Abide by all terms of the lease. For example, not make illegal changes to the property or sublet without permission.
- Keep noise levels down in order not to disrupt other tenants' quiet enjoyment of their rented premises.
- Inform the landlord of important repairs.
- Notify the landlord when planning to leave town for an extended period of time.
- Take good care of their rented premises.
- Pay rent on time, every month.
The lease also gives landlords some basic rights. You have a right to:
- Evict the tenant for violating the lease agreement. For instance, failure to pay rent.
- Access the rented premises to carry out important landlord responsibilities. Common reasons for landlord entry include: to make repairs, inspect the unit, or show the unit to prospects.
- Make changes to the lease agreement – so long as the tenant agrees to those changes.
- Be notified when a tenant is looking to vacate their premises.
As for responsibilities, you are responsible for:
- Creating a legally binding lease agreement.
- Following the legal eviction process as set out in the state law.
- Providing your tenant with a habitable property.
- Enforcing the terms of the lease agreement.
- Making requested repairs within a reasonable period of time.
An Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws
1. Security Deposits
The state of North Carolina has some basic laws that landlords must follow when it comes to handling tenants' security deposits. For one, there is a limit to how much security deposit you can ask.
For a weekly lease, the maximum you can ask should be equivalent to the rent of two weeks. For a monthly lease, it should be equivalent to the rent of one- and a half months' rent. Additionally, for a lease exceeding one month, the maximum to charge should be equal to the rent of two months.
You must also store your tenants' deposits either in a trust account or post a bond for the security deposit amount.
After a tenant moves out, you must return the deposit – less allowable deductions – within 60 days.
2. Landlord Entry
Some states require landlords to notify their tenants prior to entering their rented units. This is not the case in North Carolina. The statewide law doesn't have any legal provision regarding landlord's right to entry.
That said, most landlords still provide their tenants some notice before accessing tenants' rented premises. A landlord may require to enter a tenant's dwelling because of any of the following reasons.
- To make agreed or necessary repairs.
- In an emergency.
- To show the rental to prospective buyers, mortgagees, or renters.
- When the tenant has abandoned or vacated the premises.
- Pursuant to a court order.
The timing must also be within reason, needless to say.
3. Small Claims Court
Small claims courts provide a quick and informal way to resolve disputes. Small claims courts in different states have different limits when it comes to claims. In North Carolina, the maximum you can sue in a small claims courts is $10,000.
4. Landlord Discrimination
As a landlord, the Fair Housing Act prohibits you from discriminating against your tenant based on a protected characteristic. Protected characteristics include sex, religion, color, race, sexual orientation, familial status, marital status, and gender expression.
5. Rent Withholding
Tenants in North Carolina have a right to withhold rent or exercise their right to "repair and deduct" if a landlord fails to maintain the property. However, for tenants to exercise this right, the repair or habitability problem must be truly serious and not just annoying.
Still need further guidance? Anchor Real Estate can help. We are an experienced and reputable property management company servicing the Jacksonville area.
Disclaimer: This blog is only meant to be informational and not a substitute for legal advice. For expert help, please get in touch with us.