Legal Responsibilities for North Carolina Landlords

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Legal Responsibilities for North Carolina Landlords

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Landlord Legal Obligations

Property owners who rent out their properties in North Carolina need to understand landlord-tenant law. These laws protect both the landlord and the tenant, ensure discrimination does not occur, and ensure that the properties are used in a legal, ethical way.

Landlords who do not comply with these legal responsibilities may end up in costly lawsuits and tenant disputes, so understanding these rules and regulations is vital to work as a property manager successfully.

1) Follow Anti-Discrimination Laws

When renting your home or apartment, you must follow all of the laws in the Fair Housing Act. This law means you cannot discriminate against tenants based on race, religion, nationality, origin, familial status, sex, or physical or mental disability. You can reject applicants based on credit score, past landlord reports, past behavior, negative references, or other factors that make them appear to be a bad risk. Understanding the details of these laws is essential to protecting yourself while seeking new tenants.

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2) Keep Up With State Rent and Security Deposit Limits

Every state has its own rules about rent collection and security deposits, and you need to follow North Carolina’s rules to the letter. For example, in North Carolina, you must provide tenants ten days’ notice if rent is late before you can file an eviction lawsuit. You cannot take more than two months’ rent as a deposit for security deposits and must return it in full if there are no damages to the property. If you find damages, you must provide a deposit itemization that outlines what those damages were.

3) Make the Home Habitable

Your rental properties must be habitable, and North Carolina requires landlords under the implied warranty of habitability doctrine to make sure the homes they rent stay livable. This rule includes keeping the HVAC system and plumbing running and promptly addressing repair and maintenance problems.

So what are landlords required to provide in NC to ensure the home is habitable? Adhering to this rule includes:

  • Working plumbing
  • Working heating
  • Working sanitary systems
  • Working electrical systems
  • A smoke alarm
  • Working appliances
  • Safe stairs, sidewalks, and similar walkways
  • A home that obeys local housing codes

Can a tenant withhold rent if a landlord doesn’t make these repairs? In North Carolina, they cannot. If the landlord does not take care of repairs that make the home habitable, the tenant can take the landlord to small claims court, or the tenant can make the repair themselves and take the bill to small claims court to demand reimbursement. However, even if repairs need to be handled, failing to pay rent can lead to eviction.

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4) Written Rent Agreement

To rent out property in North Carolina, you must provide your tenant with a written rental agreement outlining the terms. Ensure all clauses are legal in North Carolina and make all necessary disclosures, including lead-based paint disclosures. Have a copy for yourself and your tenant to ensure everyone understands rights, responsibilities, and expectations.

5) You Cannot Retaliate Against a Tenant for Exercising a Legal Right

Tenants have legal rights, such as going to small claims court if you aren’t making necessary repairs. Legally, you cannot retaliate against them for exercising any of these rights. For example, if a tenant complains about repairs and you immediately raise the rent in retaliation, you are acting illegally. The best way to protect yourself in this regard is to keep good records of repairs, requests, complaints, and rental agreements.

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6) Landlords Must Follow State Guidelines for Evictions

If you need to evict a tenant, following proper protocol is essential. North Carolina law dictates the types of violations that can lead to the termination of a tenancy. It also outlines how much time you have to give your tenant to make things right before starting the eviction and how you must inform the tenant that you are planning to evict them. Working with a property management firm with a firm grasp of North Carolina landlord and tenant law is essential before pursuing an eviction.

As you prepare to become a landlord in North Carolina, or if you are already one that is looking for professional help to keep track of everything you need to do to rent out your property legally, Henderson Properties is here to help. With over 800 investment properties that we help manage, we know North Carolina tenant and landlord regulations well. We can help you remain compliant and maximize the use of your properties. Reach out today to get started.