Keeping track of all the landlord-tenant laws of a state can be complicated at first; every state has a slightly different way to handle landlords and tenants, and some local jurisdictions also provide their own regulations, making the process even harder.

However, these laws aren't as complicated to understand as they seem. If you understand the essential rules and rights that you have as a landlord or tenant, you're not going to have any issues in the future. In this case, we're going to analyze the North Carolina landlord-tenant law to help all parties involved draft an accurate lease agreement document that benefits everyone.

Keep in mind that if you need information for a specific renting case in North Carolina, the best thing that you can do is seek legal advice from an attorney or real estate manager.

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Now, let’s dive in. 

What is a Rental Agreement?

A rental agreement is a form of a contract made by landlords and tenants at the time of leasing a property. These agreements can include both parties' rights and responsibilities, as well as additional information that can be considered important by the landlord.

According to North Carolina law, written rental agreements are required if the lease is going for 12 months or longer. However, it's suggested to every North Carolina landlord to include a written document regardless of the lease duration. This information can help both parties in cases of a legal dispute in a court of law.

The North Carolina landlord-tenant laws are explained in the North Carolina General Statutes (Chapter 42). These articles provide all the necessary lease terms for tenancies in this state, as well as the benefits and obligations that landlords and tenants have.

Do Local State Laws in Benefit Landlords?

This state is generally considered a landlord-friendly one since there aren't many regulations for landlords. Overall, they can enter their property, evict their tenant, or increase rent without advanced notice. It's important to note that some local jurisdictions in the state of North Carolina do have strict regulations that affect landlords. If you want to know how these laws work for your specific rental property, seek legal advice.

What Are Landlords' Rights and Responsibilities in North Carolina?

As with every other state in the country, there's a set of rules that the landlord must comply with to keep a legally healthy relationship with their tenant. However, complying with these laws grants landlords many benefits in North Carolina that they may exercise at any point during the lease.


Landlords have the legal right to collect rent payments on time, using the security deposit to deduct repair costs from excessive damages to the property, and recover the rental unit if the tenants don't pay rent on time or withhold rent intentionally.


Generally speaking, landlords must provide an inhabitable rental unit for their tenants. Additionally, landlords are responsible for providing repairs within notice (Usually specified in the lease agreement).

Keep in mind that North Carolina tenants have the right to withhold rent payments if the landlord fails to make the repairs after receiving notice. However, this can only occur under two circumstances:

  • The landlord has given written consent
  • A judge or civil magistrate allows it through a court order

The landlord may make repairs for common utilities in the home, such as electrical wiring, heating/cooling systems, running water, sanitation, etc.

What Are Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities in North Carolina?

The guidelines for tenants may vary depending on the terms specified by the landlord. Overall, North Carolina tenants have to comply with the following terms:


Every tenant has the right to fair housing, which means a property that complies with local safety and housing regulations. If there are any damages to the property, tenants can send the landlord a notice for repair, to which the latter has to respond promptly.

If the landlord doesn't respond within the specified time frame, tenant rights in North Carolina allow them to stop paying rent until the landlord provides the required repairs. Alternatively, a tenant may choose to terminate a lease if the unit becomes uninhabitable.


According to North Carolina landlord-tenant laws, tenants have to do the following to comply with the general requirements of a lease agreement:

  • Pay rent on time.
  • Keep the property in good repair.
  • Not disturb other neighbors and tenants.

While these are the general legal guidelines, landlords may request additional rules tailored to their specific case. Keep in mind that a tenant may not withhold rent without reason.

North Carolina Landlord-Tenant Rental Law - General Clauses

Rent Payment Clauses

Currently, North Carolina doesn't permit any kind of rent control policies for tenancies; this means that landlords can charge any amount of rent that they consider appropriate for their unit.

Rent Increases

Landlords aren't required by law to send an advanced notice at the time of increasing rent prices. However, the increase should be reasonable.

Late Fees and Grace Periods

While landlords don't have to charge late fees if they don't want to, they have to follow certain guidelines if they choose to charge them.

If the landlord is working with a weekly lease, the fee may be up to $4 or 5% of the rent's total cost. In the case of monthly leases, the fee may be up to $15 or 5% of the rent cost.

As for grace periods, a landlord cannot charge extra fees before the rent is at least five days late.

Security Deposit Clauses

Landlords may collect security deposits to protect themselves from any additional expenses that may come from unpaid rent or damages. The value of these security deposits may vary depending on the type of lease agreement that the landlord and tenant are working with:

Week-to-Week Leases - A maximum of two weeks' rent.

Month-to-Month Leases - A maximum of 1.5 months' rent.

If the lease rent payments' frequency is higher than a month-to-month one, the security deposit value may be up to two months' rent. Keep in mind that it's prohibited by law in North Carolina for a security deposit to be higher than two months' rent.

While the standard amount goes around 1.5-2 months' rent, the landlord may choose a lower amount if they wish.

As for storage, security deposits may be stored in a trust account of an insured financial institution. Alternatively, the landlord can post a bond for the security deposit. The landlord must send a notice to the tenant within 30 days (One month) of the lease beginning that includes the information of the bank that the security deposit is located at.

Security Deposit Returns

According to local laws, landlords must return the security deposit within 30 days (One month) of the tenant leaving the premises. If the landlord needs to take more than 30 days to evaluate damages, they may take a final decision within 60 days (Two months).

If after those 60 days a decision isn't made, the tenant may collect the full amount of the security deposit.

Security Deposit Withhold

A landlord may be able to withhold a deposit partially if the apartment suffered from extreme wear and tear. The deposit can also be used if the tenant decided to withhold rent without reason.

In this case, the landlord must give the tenant a notice with all the deductions made from the deposit within 30 days of the tenant leaving. If the landlord didn't provide that notice after those 30 days, they might not use the deposit to cover these damages.

Lease Termination Clauses

A tenant in North Carolina is allowed to terminate a lease after it ends for any reason. However, they must send advanced notice to the landlord before doing it. The amount of notice can be the following:

  • Week-to-Week Leases - Two days of notice.
  • Month-to-Month Leases - Seven days (One week) of notice.
  • Year-to-Year Leases - 30 days (One month) of notice.

Additionally, a tenant can end the lease early for any of the following reasons:

  • Harassment or domestic violence.
  • Early termination clause.
  • Breach in the lease.
  • Active military duty.

Eviction Clauses

A landlord may send a notice for eviction to their tenant for the following reasons:

Eviction Notice for Nonpayment of Rent - The landlord must send a 10 days' notice to pay or quit. If the tenant doesn't respond within these 10 days, the landlord can pursue a legal eviction in a court of law.

Eviction Notice for Breach in the Lease - Landlords must send an unconditional eviction notice or pursue legal eviction in court if the tenant doesn't comply.

Eviction Notice for Criminal Activity - The landlord might pursue an "Article Seven Eviction," which takes effect immediately.

Depending on the type of lease, the landlord can send a notice of up to one month for at-will tenants.

For your own lease agreement template for North Carolina, visit DoorLoop's Forms Page and download the PDF or Word template.

See our full guide on the eviction process and laws for North Carolina.

eviction process and laws for North Carolina

Domestic Violence and Harassment

If the tenant becomes a domestic violence victim, they may request to terminate the lease early by showing the required proof.

Housing Protection

The North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings and the Fair Housing Act prohibit landlords from discriminating against potential tenants because of their race, religion, familial status, sex, gender, etc.


One of the best ways to keep a great tenancy relationship is to follow the local and state landlord-tenant laws since they're the foundation of all the agreements made by the parties involved.

If you need any more information regarding your area, consider seeking professional help from an attorney.


Does information about lead paint need to be disclosed to the tenant?

If the home was built before 1978, the landlord must send information regarding lead paint concentrations in the apartment.

Can the locks be replaced on a property in North Carolina?

Domestic violence victims in North Carolina have the right to have the locks changed if they feel threatened. In these cases, the landlord must comply within 48 hours and change the house locks.

If the locks aren't changed within that time frame, the tenant may change them on their own, according to state laws.

What is the limit for a small claims court in North Carolina?

A small claims court is a faster way to settle money issues between landlords and tenants. In this case, a North Carolina small claims court can hear cases of up to $10,000.

Is there housing protection in North Carolina?

The North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings and the Fair Housing Act prohibit landlords from discriminating against potential tenants because of their race, religion, familial status, sex, gender, etc.

Free Downloads


  1. Free Downloadable Forms
  2. North Carolina General Statutes
  3. Fair Housing Act

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!