Your lease or rental agreement should spell out your landlord’s key rent rules, including:
- the amount of rent (there are no limits to how much a landlord can charge in North Carolina since there are no communities with rent control in the state)
- where rent is due (such as by mail to the landlord’s business address)
- when rent is due (including what happens if the rent due date falls on a weekend date or holiday)
- how rent should be paid (usually check, money order, cash, and/or credit card)
- the amount of notice landlords must provide to increase rent
- the amount of any extra fee if your rent check bounces, and
- the consequences of paying rent late, including late fees and termination of the tenancy.
State laws in North Carolina cover several of these rent-related issues, including limits on late fees, the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction.
North Carolina Rules on Late Fees
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). If you don’t pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging you a late fee. Under North Carolina law, a late fee when rent is due monthly cannot be higher than $15 or 5% of the rental payment, whichever is greater, and may not be imposed until the rent is 5 days late. A late fee may be imposed only one time for each late rental payment. A late fee for a specific late rental payment may not be deducted from a subsequent rental payment so as to cause the subsequent rental payment to be in default.
Amount of Notice North Carolina Landlords Must Give Tenants to Increase Rent
North Carolina does not have a state statute on the amount of notice the landlord must provide tenants in order to increase the rent or change other terms of a month-to-month rental agreement. Unless your rental agreement specifies otherwise, the landlord must typically provide the same amount of notice to change the rent or another term of the tenancy as state law requires the landlord to provide when ending the tenancy—in this case, seven days. Keep in mind that if you have a long-term lease, the landlord may not increase the rent until the lease ends and a new tenancy begins—unless the lease itself provides for an increase.
Rent Increases as Retaliation or Discrimination
North Carolina landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race. Also, North Carolina landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation against you for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to your legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.
North Carolina State Laws on Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. North Carolina landlords must give tenants at least ten days in which to pay the rent or move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can file for eviction.
North Carolina Guide to Tenant Rights
For an overview of tenant rights when it comes to paying rent under North Carolina landlord-tenant law, see http://www.ncdoj.com/files/consumer/landlord-tenant-booklet.aspx.
North Carolina State Laws on Late Fees, Termination for Nonpayment of Rent, and Other Rent-Related Issues
For state rent rules and procedures on issues such as raising rent, see N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 42-14 and 42-46.
For North Carolina laws on termination for nonpayment of rent, see N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42-3.
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.