North Carolina Landlord Tenant Laws

In general, North Carolina rental law attempts to balance protections for both landlords and tenants, and does not lean strongly in favor of one party or the other. However, there are some unique qualities to it that both parties should be aware of.

Tenants should be aware that North Carolina offers no statutes or legal protections on entry by the landlords and their agents. In other states, prior court case precedent sometimes fills in gaps where there are no statutes, but that is not really the case here. Landlords are not only free to legally enter pretty much whenever they want without notice, they can allow repairmen and other agents of theirs to do the same. It is important to keep the home secured as repairmen have sometimes been caught taking advantage of this policy to steal or invade people’s privacy.

On the landlord side, evictions must be handled by a lawsuit filed in small claims court. The landlord must present evidence that the tenant has failed to stay current on their rent. If the landlord wins the lawsuit, the tenant has 10 days to appeal the judgment in District Court. In general the eviction process usually takes a little over a month in total if everything goes in favor of the landlord.
Keep in mind that while the information listed here is drawn directly from current state statutes, it can change over time and should not be considered a substitute for qualified legal advice. Cities and counties may also have their own ordinances governing rental law that replace the state statutes.

What Laws Cover Landlord-Tenant Relationships in North Carolina?

Landlord and tenant law is covered under N.C. General Statute 42. North Carolina also has a State Fair Housing Act that renters and property owners need to be aware of. Finally, in the case legal action is required, N.C. General Statute 7A-19 covers small claims court procedures and limitations.

Security Deposit Rules

N.C. General Statute 42-51 covers the handling of security deposits. Deposits cannot exceed the equivalent of two months’ rent for a lease of a year or longer, 1.5 months’ rent if the lease is month to month, and two weeks rent if it is on a weekly basis. The landlord must deposit the funds into a trust account with a North Carolina bank or obtain a bond from a state insurance company, and must notify the tenant of the name and address of that institution within 30 days of receiving the deposit. Upon move-out the deposit must be returned within 30 days, unless the tenant has caused damage to the premises, in which case the landlord must send notice within 30 days and can take up to 60 days to evaluate the cost of repairs. There is no statute requiring landlords to pay interest on a security deposit.

Non-refundable pet deposits are allowed, but N.C. General Statute 42-53 specifies that the amount asked must be reasonable.

Lease, Rent and Fee Rules

There are no statutes in North Carolina governing rental due dates, advance notice of an increase in rent, application fees or prepaid rent.

N.C General Statute 42-46 gives tenants a grace period of five days in which to pay their rent. Late fees depend on whether rent is paid weekly or monthly. In both cases, the landlord can charge a fee of 5%, but for monthly arrangements the minimum fee is $15 and for weekly arrangements the minimum fee is $4. Landlords may charge a flat fee of $25 for a returned check.

There is no statute addressing a tenant’s right to repair and deduct rent, or to withhold rent for failure to provide utilities. There is also no statute requiring a landlord to attempt to mitigate damages in the event the tenant abandons the lease. N.C. General Statute 42-25 does specify that landlords cannot recover attorney and court fees, however.

Members of the military are allowed to terminate their lease early with notice of 30 days if they are ordered onto active duty or are deployed at least 90 miles away from their residence. Written notice and a copy of orders or a letter from the service member’s commanding officer are required. There are differences in law depending on whether the person has been in the dwelling for nine months or more, however. Service members should consult the N.C. Military Personnel Residential Lease Termination pamphlet published by the state to determine which conditions apply to their current situation.

Notice and Entry Rules

N.C. General Statute 42-14 covers rules of notice for a tenant to terminate a lease. Ongoing year-to-year leases require a month’s notice. Month-to-month leases require a week’s notice, and weekly rentals require two days of advance notice. If a tenant is renting a lot for a manufactured home, they must give 60 days advance notice to move out in all circumstances.

N.C. General Statutes 42-3 and 42-26 govern termination of a lease by the landlord for nonpayment or violation. Ten days notice must be given in the event of nonpayment, but as mentioned at the top of the article, the eviction must go through small claims court and the process generally takes at least a month. Landlords are allowed to terminate a lease immediately for a lease violation.

As mentioned at the outset, there are no state statutes at all that mention required notice prior to entry. Check with the local state and county to see if they have any regulations, however. Landlords are never allowed to lock a tenant out or perform a utility shutoff to pressure them out of the unit. Self-help evictions are illegal, and if a landlord knowingly engages in one they can be held liable for all actual damages to the tenant. After the landlord lawfully evicts a tenant and gains possession of their property, they must provide the tenant with written notice of any belongings left behind. Seven days after notice is served the belongings can be considered to be abandoned.

Required Disclosures and Notes

Under General Statute 42-42, landlords are required to comply with building and housing codes, keep the premises fit and habitable, keep common areas safe, provide operational smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, and remedy complaints of unsafe conditions by the tenant. The tenant is required to keep the area they are renting clean and safe, dispose of waste properly, comply with housing and building codes and notify the landlord promptly in writing if there is an issue with the smoke or carbon monoxide detectors that requires their attention.

Domestic violence victims receive special protection under North Carolina law, specifically General Statutes 42.2 – 42.3. Landlords are entitled to verify domestic violence victim status. Once verified, the landlord cannot terminate their tenancy or refuse to extend it. The tenant also gains the right to terminate the tenancy with 30 days notice if they desire. Locks must be changed promptly at the tenant’s request, but also at their expense.

Retaliation is illegal under North Carolina law. It will be considered retaliation if a landlord terminates a lease, refuses to renew a lease or reduces services for 12 months after a tenant files a formal complaint with a government authority, works with a tenant’s organization or exercises a legal right related to their lease. Further details can be found in N.C. General Statute 42-37.1.

Small Claims Court

The small claims court limit in North Carolina is $10,000. Eviction cases are heard in small claims court and can be appealed to the district court.

Realtor Associations in North Carolina


Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 14 comments
NC Tenant - March 14, 2017

No one has a legal right to trespass including landlords. Trespassing is a crime and the one who possesses the rental (tenant by contract) has a right to say no to any landlord in North Carolina who does not give at least 24 hours notice to a tenant.


14-159.12. First degree trespass.
Offense—A person commits the offense of first degree trespass if, without authorization, he enters or remains:
On premises of another so enclosed or secured as to demonstrate clearly an intent to keep out intruders; or
In a building of another.
(Effective January 1, 1995) Classification—First degree trespass is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

14-159.13. Second degree trespass.
Offense—A person commits the offense of second degree trespass if, without authorization, he enters or remains on premises of another:
After he has been notified not to enter or remain there by the owner, by a person in charge of the premises, by a lawful occupant, or by another authorized person; or
That are posted, in a manner reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, with notice not to enter the premises.
(Effective January 1, 1995) Classification—Second degree trespass is a Class 3 misdemeanor.

Debra N. - June 23, 2017

Is a landlord responsible for insect infestation if it’s to the point of compromiseing tenants health? Also when units use a septic sewage system, what is the landlords responsible if the system is not working correctly and raw sewage is bubbling, in several areas, up and making puddles several places as well as backing up in the tenants sinks, tubs, and toilets

Anna Adams - March 28, 2018

What if a friend allows you to move on to their land, you have been there goin on 2 years. They tell you they want you to move, they haven’t filed an eviction notice or nothing. They are threatening you, saying they will have your camper hauled off and depose of your things if you don’t come get it within the next day.

Andréa Knox - March 5, 2019

I lived in a shelter for six months. The shelter agreed to pay $563 via email to the Charlotte Housing Authority for my children and I to move in and have since rescinded their payment. Also, I disclosed on my rental application and lease that I owed money from a previous rental through CHA. The landlord first cited termination of lease for the past money owed to the other apartment stating that I committed fraud on the lease. I called to their attention that I disclosed the information on the preliminary paperwork as well as my lease application. They had overlooked it on their part. They issued me a thirty day notice to vacate the premises the second day I moved in citing the past due amount and said I have thirty days to come up with the $3000. I have half but they are not willing to enter into any payment arrangements and have refused my regular monthly rental payments as well. They have never given me notice in writing. They also threatened me stating that if I allow this to go to court they will never rent to me again. I can’t afford anything but income based housing and this will lock me out of living anywhere with my children. I’m not from Charlotte. We moved here fleeing domestic violence back home. Is this legal? To terminate a new rental based on a prior rental once they have already entered into a new rental agreement? They are forcing me to be out of compliance with the new rental with nonpayment of rent by refusing to accept rental payment. Thank you. Ms. Knox

Terry Dwayne waddell - April 6, 2019

Are the landlords responsible for parking problems in the apartment complex.

Daniel Owens - April 18, 2019

My father & I have made a verbal agreement as to paying weekly rent as of 2 weeks out now. Since then although I’ve been limited too work available,I’ve paid him some money towards the amount owed and as to when I get paid at later date as well. He says he’s willing to work with me and allow the time or do chores. For which I’ve done as to chopping firewood, carrying in water as the pipes busted & we’ve been without for several weeks now. He keeps trash & cans all inside the house causing roaches and unclean at times altogether. But each night he drinks & argues with me either changing his mind to this or that and saying I’m to go or call the law and all with a days notice only. He sleeps all day and drinks most the night every night but still I’ve got no place to go & its certainly Not enough time to save $ to find elsewhere to do so. What can I do…

Michael Burford - April 21, 2019

Landlord has refused to repair the inside the home since storm Florence Major work need to do in the home. No ceilingin part of the kitchen. But he wants his rent,.

Debora C Overby - May 6, 2019

I’ve been living on the same property for 35 years..I built a garage adjacent to my home..the landlord wants to now come and move everything out of my garage so he can use it to store his cars..is this legal there has never been any type of renters or lease agreement whatsoever I do not pay rent to live there..I was put there 35 years ago by my ex husband who owns the land..now after 35 years he wants to stake claim to everything…his daughter now lives in my home ..what laws protect me from him gaining my things..and what protects my daughter to be able to live there..he does not maintain anything on the land in the past 35 years..I have done all maintenance to the property.thank you for your time.

Kimberly Rivera - May 11, 2019

My lease is up and we are and living in a home temporarily because our house burnt down with me and my family in it. So the insurance company put us in a rental for 6 months, but bc of weather we need 30 more days until our home is ready, the landlord said no and I have a 6 month old baby who was only a week old and in the house that coughs on fire .. he denied 30 days bc the people in neighborhood don’t like Hispanic people and they want us out.. so they called and said we have a car on 3 tires in front of house and we did bc I cought a flat and was waiting for my tire in the mail.. which is on the car now.. can he deny us 30 days knowing we are an insurance family who home burnt down and have no where to go.. we keep his yard beautiful never late on rent, and haven’t even setup in His house bc we are just being shelter here..

Patty Bowman - July 31, 2019

If two persons lease a property is the lessor allowed to release one person from the lease refund the entire deposit to that person and collect it again from the other Lessee?

sabrina - August 16, 2019

Help Need. My next door neighbors need help. They are the sweetiest Mexican couple with well mannered kids . The landlord has told them they have to move out by the 20th , which is tuesday . their landlord is in mexico for the summer and is using his brother and sister to collect the rent and light bill . they’ve paid it but wouldnt give eve a receipt. Their daughter 13 has been translating for me . If you speak spanish , they need help . I do all ican helping with food when i can and a little gas money for cutting my grass and snacks for the kids. Dont know their last names but the First is eve and bebo. They live inthe first trailer be the dirt road by the dunp on emmaus church . Anyone that can help

Renee McCallum - August 21, 2019

Can a landlord charge a tentant 200.00 for parking on grass when there is not ample place to park?? Can a landlord charge 200.00 fordogs cats birds fish etc in home..can landlord charge 200.00 for normal leaks in carport from car ..can landlord charge 200.00 for a non drivable car when its tied up in a legal matter? Can a landlord charge 200.00 for guest spending night ..what is limit of days n nights for it?..can a landlord tell tenant you don’t want to make your landlord mad …don’t report mold .its my home I know more about it than you ..these are what a landlord is doing so on top of the rent..its 200.00 for each above violation ..appreciate an answer asap

Cynthia Marie Randle - September 24, 2019

Quick question, I havent been able to find anyone who could answer. So here’s my situation, the maintenance man at my apartment complex first came over to check a leak by the back door and he asked if there would be anyone else in the home while he worked. I told him its just my mom, daughter and I who live here. He kept saying that he would prefer if he worked in the home alone or if a man would be present. My mom ask him why is it such a problem, even asked if he had some kind of case on him, he said no. Fast forward hes been in the home while my daughter and I have been there multiple times. Last week I was at our local police department and I saw his mugshot on a bulletin board. Hes was convicted of sexually abusing a child. Did 3 years in prison and is a registered sex offender. When we moved in we were not informed by this. My question is, is our landlord required to disclose that information? She knew about his charges and didn’t say anything. I printed out his mug shot and showed my neighbors and they were not aware of him as well. What legal actions can we take?

JESSIE ADKINS - October 2, 2019

What is the in N.C. law to evict a tenant when there is no violation? Can you just request possession of your property without a cause on the tenant’s part except you want to sale your property? My property is up for sale and I have an offer. The tenant refuses to leave. I went to magistrate court, apealed to district court. He offered to pay back rent which I refused because I was told in magistrate court it voided the eviction I filed if I accepted rent. I was initially for back rent, but I accepted partial payment before Court, which voided it. I appealed to district court and because in court he offered to pay all monies owed and I refused to accept because I now want my property. The magistrate court was July 15, district court October 2nd. Going on 90 days. What can I do? I put my property up for sale with realtor September 15th.


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