Most residential leases and rental agreements in North Carolina require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of North Carolina landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does North Carolina law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
Yes. Under North Carolina landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of one and one-half months' rent for the security deposit on month-to-month rental agreements, and two months' rent if the rental term is longer than two months. North Carolina landlords may add an additional "reasonable," nonrefundable pet deposit.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in North Carolina for returning a security deposit?
Under North Carolina law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has moved out. If the landlord's claim against the deposit can't be finalized within that time (for example, if necessary repairs haven't been completed), the landlord may send an interim accounting at the 30-day point and then a final accounting within 60 days.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that North Carolina landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in North Carolina?
Yes. In addition to complying with North Carolina laws on security deposit limits and how (and when) the deposit must be returned to tenants, landlords in North Carolina must, within 30 days of the beginning of the lease term, disclose the name and address of the banking institution where the deposit is located.
Where can I look up North Carolina law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up North Carolina law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at North Carolina General Statutes §§ 42-50 to 42-56. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in North Carolina. For tips on looking up North Carolina state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information in the tenant guide available at http://www.ncdoj.com/files/consumer/landlord-tenant-booklet.aspx.