Property Management Blog

North Carolina Rental Laws - An Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights in Raleigh

KRS Holdings - Thursday, December 16, 2021

north carolina law pay rent

North Carolina is generally considered to be a landlord-friendly state as its landlord-tenant laws have a few differences when compared to most states. Among these differences are a broader power when it comes to being able to pursue legal eviction, increasing rent under rent control laws, and not needing to notify North Carolina renters before entry.

Due to these differences, it’s especially important as a landlord in North Carolina that you be familiar with the rental policies. The following is a basic overview of the North Carolina landlord-tenant laws and North Carolina general statutes on the matter.

Required Disclosures

As a landlord following the North Carolina law, two important notices you must disclose to your tenant. 

The first disclosure landlords must make is on lead paint. If you are renting out a property built before 1978, landlords must disclose lead concentration in paints and finishes. 

The other disclosure is on a tenant’s deposit. Landlords must provide their tenants with information regarding the banking institution holding their security deposit. 

Tenant Rights & Responsibilities 

Tenants have certain rights under North Carolina landlord-tenant law. A landlord's North Carolina tenants have a right to:

  • Receive notice of any changes made to the written lease terms. For example, when their yearly or monthly rent is going up.
  • Have requested repairs done by the landlord within a reasonable time frame.
  • Live in a habitable rental home that meets all the state’s habitability codes.
  • Enjoy their rented premises in peace and quiet.

north carolina tenants and north carolina landlords

  • Be treated with respect and fairness in accordance with the Fair Housing Act.
  • As per North Carolina laws, tenants are allowed to remain in their rented premises until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process. This includes sending the proper eviction notice and not using self-help eviction tactics. 
  • Exercise their rights without receiving any form of retaliation from the landlord. For instance, withhold rent or exercise the right to “repair and deduct” if a landlord fails to take care of important repairs that threaten safety standards.

The following are the basic tenant responsibilities in the state of North Carolina. A tenant must:

  • Notify the landlord when maintenance issues occur.
  • Abide by all terms of the lease agreement such as paying rent.
  • Allow entry when a landlord is looking to carry out an important responsibility such as inspecting their rental or showing the rental property to prospective buyers or tenants. 
  • Maintain peace in the neighborhood.
  • Notify the landlord when away for an extended period of time.
  • Care for the rental unit by cleaning it and taking care of sanitation.
  • Notify the landlord when looking to move out of the unit, before or by the end of the rental term.

Landlord Rights & Responsibilities

The following are the basic landlord rights in the state and under North Carolina landlord-tenant law. Real Estate owners have a right to:

  • Screen tenants according to their qualifying criteria and no other factors, as per federal law outlined in the Fair Housing Act.
  • Collect rent and other fees such as the security deposit before allowing a tenant to sign the lease agreement.
  • Enter the tenant’s unit to carry out the obligations specified by any written rental agreements.
  • Evict tenants for serious violations of the lease agreement like refusing to pay rent or allowing criminal activity in the unit.
  • Make appropriate deductions to a tenant’s security deposit for things such as unpaid rent, excessive damage, or unpaid utility bills.
  • Receive notice before a tenant moves out at the end of their lease agreement term.

couple moving in and giving a high-five

The following are the basic landlord responsibilities in the state of North Carolina. Landlords must:

  • Evict a tenant using the state’s eviction process.
  • Make important disclosures to your tenants before allowing them to sign the rental agreements.
  • Serve proper notice to a tenant when looking to change the terms of the lease or rental agreement. For example: increasing the rent.
  • Respect your tenant’s peace and quiet enjoyment by minimizing disruption.
  • Give tenants proper written notice if they wish to end the lease agreement early.
  • Have a legitimate reason to enter a tenant’s rented premises. For example: to inspect the unit or show it to prospective tenants or buyers.
  • Make requested repairs within a reasonable time frame.
  • Ensure their units abide by all applicable health and safety codes.

An Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws

1. Landlord’s Right to Enter the Dwelling

As landlords, you have a right to enter your tenant’s rented premises. Landlords may want to in the case of an emergency when looking to make a necessary repair, make agreed-upon repairs and discuss with the tenant, under a court order. 

Is there a notice requirement? No! The state has no legal provision regarding the landlord’s right to entry. Landlords can generally enter their tenant’s premises without serving a prior written notice.

2. The Condition, Maintenance, and Repairs of the Rental Property

According to state laws, it’s every landlord's responsibility to ensure their tenant lives in a habitable property. That is, among other things, one with working locks, drinkable water, and a proper place to put garbage like a garbage can. A tenant, however, needs to maintain this rental unit. If a tenant fails, it's not the landlord's responsibility.

3. Housing Discrimination Laws 

According to Fair Housing Rules, housing discrimination is illegal based on some protected characteristics of the potential tenant. 

couple discussing with landlord

In North Carolina, protected characteristics include race, color, sex, religion, national origin, gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. 

4. Small Claims Lawsuits 

Conflicts between North Carolina landlords and tenants are relatively common. As such, it’s important to know the laws of small claims court to prepare for any legal issues that may occur and affect landlords.

Small claims court is part of the district court division of the state court system. To file a lawsuit in North Carolina, landlords need to pay a filing fee of $96 to the court’s clerk among other court costs, including legal representation if they choose that route.

According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, lawsuits filed in a small claims court must not exceed $10,000. 

5. Withholding Rent in North Carolina

Can tenants withhold rent payments if a landlord doesn't meet their maintenance responsibilities? No! The North Carolina Consumers Council explains that under North Carolina landlord-tenant regulations, a tenant has the legal right to withhold rent under two circumstances: if the landlord consents to it in writing or if a judicial officer grants them a court order permitting them to do so. 

tenant and landlord handshake

That said, your tenant may be able to exercise their right to “Repair and Deduct” when it comes to habitability issues. Note that if tenants don't pay rent for legal reasons, the landlord cannot charge late fees.

6. Security Deposits 

North Carolina requires landlords to follow certain basic state laws when it comes to handling security deposits. 

For example, as landlords, you must adhere to the state’s security deposit limit. For a month-to-month lease or rental agreement, the security deposits you request can't exceed the value of one month and two weeks' rent. 

Bottom Line

It’s always a good idea to know the state-specific landlord-tenant laws when renting out your real estate investment, but it’s not always easy to understand. From serving an eviction notice to tenant screening, it can be difficult to navigate.

Our team at KRS Property Management is here to help you navigate your rental ownership journey, from understanding North Carolina law to tenant screening, we've got you covered. Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you get the most out of your rental property!

Disclaimer: The information here isn’t intended to be used as a substitute for expert legal advice. If you have a specific question or need further assistance, kindly get in touch with either a qualified attorney or an experienced management company.