The North Carolina Department of Justice values landlord and tenant rights and has enacted laws to protect them. Here at Victory Real Estate, we too value your rights – but do you know what rights you have when it comes to renting a home or an apartment?
Landlord and Tenant laws can be quite complicated. We are going to make it easier for you. We have read all the legal documents from the Attorney General, the Federal government and other sources and have condensed them into the essential information you need to know.
WHAT TENANTS MUST DO.
You Must Pay All Rent. If you want to keep from being evicted, you must pay all rent that is legally due under your lease agreement. (This one is kind of obvious, right?)
You Must Keep the Premises Safe and Clean. It is the duty of the landlord to make sure that the premises are safe before you move in. It is up to you to keep the property you are renting clean and safe. This would include any common areas. That means that you shouldn’t leave gasoline lying around in open containers. You should promptly dispose of all garbage and other waste. On the other hand, if a railing breaks, please immediately let your landlord or their agent know so they can come repair it.
You Should Not Deliberately Destroy or Damage the Premises. If you, your family or visitors damage the leased property, the law allows the landlord to charge you a reasonable price to repair the damage. This will be taken out of your security deposit and you will be liable for any amount that exceeds your deposit.
You May Not Remove Any Part of the Premises. Any items that came with the unit when you rented it should remain with the unit when you leave. If you rented it partially furnished, than all of these existing furniture, fixtures and other items will stay with the property. That would include any curtains, window boxes, fixtures or lighting. (This sounds obvious, but it is amazing how bad our memory can be when it is time to move out. Please refer to your check-in list that is attached to your lease.)
Tenants Need to Replace the Batteries in Any Smoke Detectors. The law requires that landlords install new batteries in each smoke detector at the beginning of your tenancy. Unless your lease states otherwise, the tenant is responsible to replace the batteries while they rent the unit. If the smoke detector needs to be replaces, the landlord should be notified in writing.
If You Need a Non-Emergency Plumbing or Electrical Repair, Put it in Writing. North Carolina landlord tenant law states that the landlord’s responsibility to repair the rental does not begin until the tenant has given written notice – unless it is an emergency. If you need a plumbing, heating, electrical or appliance repair, feel free to call the landlord or his agent, but then it is a good idea to send an email or letter that is signed and dated as a reminder. Keep a copy for yourself.
WHAT LANDLORDS MUST DO.
Landlords Must Meet Building Codes. North Carolina law requires that landlords must comply with local building and housing codes. That is a tenant rights.
Landlords Must Ensure that the Unit is in a Habitable Condition. The landlord is responsible for all repairs in order to maintain the unit in a good and safe working order including all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating and ventilating systems.
The Landlord Must Inform You if They Sell the Property. Though the lease agreement will be binding on the new buyer, the law requires that the landlord tell you in writing that the property has been sold. Part of the tenant rights is to know who owns the property. The new landlord should contact you as well to tell you where to send your rent payments.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS BY TENANTS AND THE LAW’S ANSWER
“If the landlord refuses to make repairs, can I withhold the rent?” North Carolina law does not allow tenants to withhold their rent unless the landlord agreed to the repair in writing or you have a court order allowing you to do so. If you have paid for a repair out of pocket, send a letter to the landlord or their agent asking that they allow the cost of the repair to be deducted from your next month’s payment. Wait until you have received a written response before doing so. If that will not work, you can file a small claims suit to cover your costs.
“What is the limit on how much a landlord can charge as a security deposit?” There is a state law that says that a landlord or its agent cannot charge more than two month’s rent plus a “reasonable” nonrefundable pet deposit. If you are on a month-to-month basis, your deposit cannot be more than one and a half month’s rent.
“Can the landlord charge me a fee if my rent is late?” Yes, North Carolina landlord tenant law allows them to charge $15 or 5% of the rent, whichever is greater. It can only be charged once for each late payment and it cannot be deducted from the next month’s rent.
Would you like some more information? Here is a list of our source material:
Cooper, Roy, North Carolina Attorney General. “Landlords’ Maintenance and Repair Duties: Your Rights as a Residential Tenant in North Carolina.” Web. Revised Oct 2007. PDF file.
Legal Aid of North Carolina. “Landlord/Tenant Law.” Web. PDF file.
North Carolina Real Estate Commission. “Questions and answers on: Tenant Security Deposits.” Web. PDF file.