Each year, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians rent houses, apartments, mobile homes, and other dwellings as their residences. For the first-time tenant—and some veteran renters—this can be a confusing and somewhat unsettling experience. The more you know about the process of renting residential real estate, the better you will be able to protect your interests and carry out your responsibilities under your rental agreement. This booklet addresses an important aspect of the rental process which generates many questions from tenants—tenant security deposits. How much security deposit can I be charged? Can my landlord charge me a “pet fee”? What happens to my security deposit while I’m a tenant? And what happens to it once my rental term is over? These are some of the questions that this booklet attempts to answer.
Although this information focuses on security deposits from your perspective as a tenant, it should also be useful to landlords, property managers and rental agents. The North Carolina Tenant Security Deposit Act (the “Act”) sets out the rights and responsibilities of residential tenants, landlords, and their agents regarding tenant security deposits. (See NC General Statutes Sections 42-50 through 42-56.) The Act applies to all residential properties except single rooms. The Act does not require landlords, or their agents, to collect security deposits, but they usually do in order to assure that they will be reimbursed if certain specified losses are caused by tenants. Landlords also frequently use the services of real estate agents to help them manage and rent their properties. These agents must be licensed by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and, like the landlord, must comply with the Tenant Security Deposit Act as well as the N.C. Real Estate License Law and various rules adopted by the Real Estate Commission when renting the owners’ properties.
Read this booklet carefully! Then, if you still have questions about tenant security deposits, you are encouraged to contact your private attorney. You may call the N.C. Real Estate Commission’s Regulatory Affairs Division (919/875-3700) if a real estate broker or firm is managing the rental property or the N.C. Department of Justice (919/716-6000) if you are renting directly from an unlicensed landlord.
Access the Pamphlet HERE