North Carolina Rental Lease Agreements are agreements made between a property owner and tenant to allow the tenant to rent the property for predetermined length of time, at which point the contract can be renegotiated. Different contracts will be needed to lease a commercial or a residential property, due to the extremely different laws surrounding both. A Real Estate Broker License is required to sell or rent commercial or residential property in North Carolina.
With regards to landlord-tenant relations, most states have adopted a Landlord-Tenant Act that mandates the duties of both the landlord and the tenant with respect to the maintenance and repair of the premises. The state of North Carolina passed a similar act called The North Carolina Residential Rental Agreements Act of 1977 which expresses the duties between landlord and tenant.
Form Description Types
North Carolina Rental Laws
A landlord may require a security deposit of up to two (2) months rent, if the lease is a One Year or more agreement. In a Month to Month Lease, a landlord may charge a security deposit of up to one and a half’s months rent. A security deposit must be returned within thirty (30) days of the tenant vacating the property, unless the cleaning and repair expenses cannot be finalized within that time, in which case the deadline is sixty (60 days).
A landlord also has the right to charge a nonrefundable cleaning deposit for any pets the tenant has.
There are no rent controlled properties in North Carolina, so there is no limit to how much a landlord can charge for rent. Rent is due in the amount and on the day specified in the lease. Failure to pay on time may result in a late fee. A late fee may only be charged if the rent is 5 days late and cannot be higher than 5% of the rent, or 15 dollars (whichever is higher). If a landlord fails to make important repairs, the tenant may withhold rent, or pay for the repair themselves and deduct the cost from rent.
In a Month to Month Agreement, there are no specific restrictions on rent increases, so a rent increase requires seven (7) days notice before the rent increase takes effect. In a One Year Agreement, rent may not be increased or renegotiated until the lease has ended, unless a rent increase provision is included in the lease itself.
As in most states, a landlord is required to give rent receipts if requested. However, there is no law requiring the landlord to give rent receipts without being asked if the payment is in a certain form (such as cash or money order).
On a fixed lease, a tenant cannot be evicted until the lease has terminated, unless the tenant has failed to pay rent or violates the terms of the lease. If the tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord must issue a written or verbal ultimatum, stating that the tenant must pay or face eviction. The landlord is then required to give the tenant ten (10) days to pay or move out, before beginning eviction proceedings.
On a monthly lease, the Landlord is required to serve written notice of termination and give the tenant thirty (30) days to move out before being evicted. If the tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord is required to give the tenant seven (7) days to vacate the property.
The landlord is not permitted to evict a tenant without a Court Order and is not permitted to change locks, install deadlocks, shut off utilities or otherwise try to force the tenant to move.
In North Carolina, it is illegal to deny housing or otherwise discriminate against a tenant for the following reasons:
- race, color, national origin, sex, religion, family status, physical or mental disability
- Please note that age and sexual orientation are not covered
The landlord has the responsibility to keep the property and all common areas in fit and habitable conditions. If the property needs repairs beyond what the tenant can fix, upon written notice the landlord has the duty to fix including any electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities.
Smoke detectors should be in good condition and properly working either powered by battery or electrically by the time the tenant moves in. The detectors should have the approval of Underwriters’ Laboratories, Inc or or other equivalent national testing laboratory approval, and install the smoke detectors in accordance with either the standards of the National Fire Protection Association. If a smoke detector breaks or needs repair, upon written notice, the landlord shall fix it within 15 days.
First and fore most, the tenant’s most important responsibility is to pay the rent. Just like the landlord has responsibilities to keep the property and common areas in good condition, the tenant must keep the premises in which he/she occupies clean and in safe conditions. The tenant shall not intentionally damage or cause harm to the property in any way otherwise an eviction can be imposed.
For more info, see North Carolina General Statute 42-42.