Do you own a property in North Carolina? Understanding the state’s security deposit laws could help protect your rental investment!
Security deposits are important to protect landlords from possible losses in case tenants don’t adhere to the terms of the lease or rental agreement and cause excessive property damage. As a North Carolina landlord you have a right under landlord-tenant laws, to ask for one, but you need to ensure that you follow the correct legal procedure every step of the way.
To learn about security deposit law in North Carolina, keep reading!
Advantages to Asking for a Security Deposit
As a landlord, there are many advantages to collecting security deposits from your tenants, including:
- Help cover unpaid bills upon move-out - If utilities are the tenant's responsibility, the security deposit can be used to cover any bills that the tenant fails to pay when they move out of the property.
- Help cover unpaid rent - Non-payment of rental payment is among the most common issues experienced by landlords. Fortunately, landlords can deduct any unpaid rent from the renter’s security deposit.
- Help cover damages to the property - Landlords can use the deposit to cover excessive property damage that goes beyond that of normal wear and tear.
- Help cover legal fees - In case the landlord needs to file an eviction case against the tenant due to non-payment of rent or other lease violations, the landlord can deduct the cost of court fees and eviction fees from the security deposit.
What You Need to Know About North Carolina’s Security Deposit Law
Security Deposit Limits
Many states have limits on how much a landlord can charge for security deposits. In the state of North Carolina, the maximum limits for a security deposit amount depend on the length of the lease or rental rental agreement:
- Weekly leases - Landlords can charge a security deposit equivalent to two weeks’ rent.
- Monthly leases - Landlords can charge a security deposit equivalent to one and a half months’ rent.
- Longer than a monthly lease period - Landlords can charge up to two times the monthly rent as a security deposit.
For tenants with pets, landlords are allowed to charge a nonrefundable but reasonable fee as pet deposits. However, renters with disabilities who need service animals should not be required to pay pet deposits.
The Federal Fair Housing Act states that rental property owners and others in the real estate industry have to allow renter with emotional support or service animals to gain equal access to housing opportunities. But in case the service animal causes property damage, the tenant should pay for the damages.
Storing a Tenants Deposit
As a North Carolina landlord, you have two options when storing a tenants security deposit. You can either use:
- Trust accounts - North Carolina landlords can put the tenant’s deposit in a trust account in any federally and licensed insured trust institution or bank in the state. A landlord may place the deposit in an out-of-state trust account in the event that the landlord gives the renter a bond in the amount of the deposit.
- Bonds - Landlords may choose to post a bond from any North Carolina licensed insurance company, which must be equal to the amount of the deposit the landlord is safekeeping for the renter.
Written Notice After Receipt of a Security Deposit
As a North Carolina landlord, you are required to inform the tenant within 30 days of the address and name of the financial institution or insurance company where the security deposit is held. However, you are not required to provide a receipt to the tenants for the security deposit.
Reasons for Withholding a North Carolina Tenant’s Security Deposit
According to the North Carolina law, landlords must only use the deposit once the tenancy has come to an end or has been prematurely terminated. North Carolina landlords can only use the security deposits to cover the following:
- Unpaid bills - This includes rent, water, utilities, sewer services, electricity, and other bills.
- Damage to the rental unit - This includes any fixtures and appliances on the property caused by damages beyond normal wear and tear, as well as carbon monoxide and smoke alarms alarms.
- Loss of income - This refers to damages that come from the nonfulfillment of the rental period.
- Costs of re-renting the premises - If the tenant breaks the lease early, landlords can charge the cost of re-renting.
- Costs of storing or removing tenant’s leftover property - If the tenant left any personal belongings in the unit, the landlord could charge the storage or removal costs from the security deposit.
- Legal fees - In case of a lawsuit, landlords can charge the court costs, including eviction fees and valid late payment.
Refunding the Security Deposit
Once the tenant leaves, landlords have 30 days to return all or part of the tenant’s deposit. If any deductions are made, landlords must provide an itemized, written list of them, which must be delivered or mailed to the tenant with the remaining security deposit.
Change in the Property’s Ownership
If the property changes ownership, the outgoing landlord has two options:
- Transfer the portion of the remaining deposit after making the allowed deductions to the new owner. The landlord should notify the tenant of the transfer of ownership, including the new owner’s name, contact details, and address. The new owner will now be responsible for the tenant’s security deposit.
- Return the remaining portion of the security deposit after making any allowable deductions.
By understanding and following the North Carolina law for security deposits, you can protect your investment property. You should also remain informed of lease termination policies, the eviction process, and other rental laws.
If you have specific questions or need help managing your North Carolina rentals, you can seek out a knowledgeable property management company. The team at House In Order Property Management has the skills and local connections to effectively manage your rental properties. Please contact us at 828-484-1571 to learn more about our management services!
Disclaimer: This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws frequently change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading.