North Carolina Security Deposit Laws

Created by FindLaw's team of attorney writers and editors.

When you rent a property, you're making an agreement with the landlord that you'll take care of the property, pay your rent on time, and follow the rules set forth in the rental agreement. Landlords usually collect a security deposit as a precaution, often one to one and-a-half times the amount of rent. However, most states have laws restricting the amount a landlord may collect as a deposit and how soon the deposit (after reasonable costs are deducted) must be returned. Landlords and tenants also are beholden to the terms of the rental agreement, which is a legally binding contract.

Learn about North Carolina's security deposit laws, including the maximum amount a landlord may require and rules for storing the deposits, in the sections below.

North Carolina Security Deposit Laws: The Basics

If you're moving into a new apartment but still haven't received your deposit from the last place, you may feel pressured and confused. Statutory language isn't always written with the average citizen in mind, which is why we've summarized the law for you below.

Statute North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 42, Sections 50-56
Security Deposit Maximum
  • Up to 2 weeks rent for week-to-week rentals;
  • Up to 1 and 1/2 months rent for month-to-month rentals; and
  • Up to 2 months rent for terms greater than month-to-month (i.e. annual).
Storage of Security Deposit

North Carolina landlords are required to place security deposits into a trust account or furnish a bond from an insurance company.

Landlord must inform tenant within 30 days of the start of the lease term regarding the name and address of the institution holding the deposit or providing the bond.

Pet Deposits

Landlord may charge a reasonable, nonrefundable fee for pets kept by the tenant on the premises.

Tenant Action for Nonpayment of Deposit

Tenant may file a civil lawsuit against the landlord in order to recover the balance of the deposit (minus reasonable deductions) if landlord fails to do so. If the court determines that the landlord acted with willful noncompliance, the plaintiff may recover attorney's fees.

What Can A Landlord Deduct?

Landlords may deduct for reasonable fees and expenses incurred during the rental period, including:

  • The tenant's possible nonpayment of rent and costs for water or sewer services provided;
  • Damage to the premises, including damage to or destruction of smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms;
  • Damages as the result of the nonfulfillment of the rental period (i.e. leaving before the end of the lease period), except where the tenant was forced to leave the property because of a landlord's violation;
  • Any unpaid bills that become a lien against the property due to the tenant's occupancy;
  • The costs of re-renting the premises after breach by the tenant, including any reasonable fees or commissions paid by the landlord to a licensed real estate broker to re-rent the premises;
  • The costs of removal and storage of the tenant's property after a summary ejectment proceeding; and
  • Court costs.

Note: Funds can't be deducted from the security deposit for "normal wear and tear" on the property.

Deadline for Returning a Tenant's Security Deposit

Landlord must return the balance of the deposit (amount paid minus reasonable, itemized deductions) within 30 days after termination of lease and vacancy of premises.

If tenant fails to provide the landlord with a mailing address, the landlord shall hold the balance of the deposit for at least 6 months.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

  • North Carolina Law - Summaries of select state laws covering a wide variety of practice areas, including family, criminal, small business, injury, and consumer law.
  • Official State Codes - Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.

North Carolina Security Deposit Limit Laws: Related Resources

Having Trouble With Your Security Deposit? Get Help From a North Carolina Attorney

Landlords are required to abide by certain laws regarding security deposits, including the timely return of what's owed. While sometimes simply contacting your landlord can clear up misunderstandings or mistakes, you may need to exercise your legal options. Get started today by contacting an experienced North Carolina landlord-tenant law attorney near you.

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