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North Carolina Tenant-Landlord Law

by Caroline Merkin


Security Deposits

  • The collection of security deposits in North Carolina isn’t required, but most landlords require them to prove a tenant’s financial stability and guarantee a payment for damaged property.
  • It must not amount to more than two weeks’ rent for week-to-week tenants, more than 1.5 months for monthly tenants, and no more than 2 months rent for fixed-term leases. (NCGS § 42-51)
  • The landlord has 30 days post move out to return the deposit to the tenant, unless there are apparent damages (in excess of normal wear and tear) upon which a notice must be sent within 30 days, with a final determination within 60 days after termination. (NCGS § 42-52)
    • The landlord may also withhold funds for unpaid rent, unpaid utility bills, a violation of the lease, legal costs, and/or costs to remove and store tenant's possessions after eviction. (NCGS § 42-51)
  • The funds must be deposited in a licensed North Carolina bank or insurance company that the tenant is notified of within 30 days of the start of the lease (NCGS § 42-50)
  • In North Carolina, there are not statutes mandating interest owed upon deposits. Additionally, funds may be commingled with personal assets, but it is not recommended.

Rent and Late fees

  • There is no statute regarding when rent is due (at the beginning of the month or at the end).
  • In North Carolina, there is a grace period of 5 days. (NCGS § 42-46(a)) There is no required late fee, but if a landlord wishes to charge one, there are restrictions:
    • If a tenant is on a month-to-month lease agreement, a late of fee of $15 or 5% of the monthly rent (whichever is greater) may be charged (NCGS § 42-46(a)(1))
    • If a tenant is on a week-to-week lease agreement, a late fee of $4 or 5% (whichever is greater) may be charged (NCGS § 42-46(a)(2))
  • Tenants are not allowed to withhold rent for failure to provide essential services (water, heat, etc.) unless they are legally granted (NCGS § 42-44)
  • There is no rent control or limit required by the state.

Notices and Entry

  • There are no statutes in North Carolina mandating notice prior to entering a property for repairs or showings, but 24 hours is recommended.
  • If a tenant is on a fixed-end lease agreement, there is no notice required for early termination.
    • If a tenant is on a year-to-year lease agreement, the early termination notice must be issued one month or more before the end of the current year of the tenancy (NCGS § 42-14)
    • If a tenant is on a month-to-month lease agreement, the termination notice must be issued 7 days prior to being evicted early (NCGS § 42-14)
    • If a tenant is on a week-to-week lease agreement, the termination notice must be issued 2 days prior to being evicted early (NCGS § 42-14)
  • There is no statute regarding emergency entry.


  • A landlord is required to disclose any known presence of lead paint on the property. If there is a presence of lead paint in the unit or common area, the lease must include a federally-approved attachment on lead poisoning prevention.
  • Landlords are required to disclose any structural damage on the property related to mold, water, fire, smoke, or insects. Click here for mold pamphlet.
  • The State of North Carolina Mineral and Oil and Gas Rights Mandatory Disclosure Statement mandates that all sellers of new or existing properties to disclose whether the mineral, oil, and gas rights for the property are owned by someone other than the seller. See disclosure form here.

Eviction Laws

Eviction Step #1: Inform your tenant with an official notice

An official notice is posted to the tenant. Typically, although this varies based State and county, the landlord hands the notice to the tenant in person, or posts the notice to the door if the tenant is not home. You also may need to send a copy via certified mail.

Eviction Step #2: Wait for the tenant to respond

  • In North Carolina, a tenant may be evicted for nonpayment of rent, lease violation, or drug trafficking/other criminal activity
    • When it is failure to pay rent, the tenant has 10 days to pay you otherwise the eviction notice can be filed with the courts. (NCGS § 42-3)
    • When there is lease violation, (e.g. subletting), an eviction notice may be filed immediately. (NCGS § 42-26)
    • When it is drug trafficking or other criminal activity, there is no minimum notice and proceedings are expedited.

Eviction Step #3: File With Court

If the tenant has not paid you within the time period outlined in Step #2, then file with the local courts for the official eviction. Both you and the tenant will receive a specific date for the hearing.

Eviction Step #4: Attend the court date

You or your lawyer will want to attend the court hearing and bring proper documentation of the lease violation with you. You should prepare to bring the following, at a minimum:

  1. Your lease agreement
  2. Evidence of payment failures / history
  3. Proof that you served the tenant (Step #1)
  4. Any communications or other helpful records

Eviction Step #5: Sheriff to remove the tenant

If the tenant does not leave on their own, then you have a right, within a certain amount of time, to request for a sheriff to remove the tenant.

Eviction Step #6: Collecting damages

Most likely, the tenant owes you money for the lease violation. Here are some ways to collect money from the damages:

  1. Garnish wages
  2. File in small claims court
  3. Use a private debt collector

For more information on North Carolina Landlord Tenant laws please visit their website here.