Renting A Unit

Part of the Tenant Right's Handbook

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Getting Ready to Rent Signing A Lease and Fees Requesting Repairs Moving Out and Your Security Deposit

There’s a lot to consider when renting an house, apartment, townhouse or condominium beyond just choosing the right location. Use the information on this page as a resource. 

Getting Ready to Rent

Here are some important things to know and/or do when renting:

  1. Inspect the unit. Before you agree to rent the unit, inspect it during day time hours. Make sure to note any needed repairs in writing. Don’t pay the owner or sign any agreements until the unit is repaired. 
  2. A minimum housing code exists. This Code is enforced by the City’s Code Enforcement Division of the Housing and Neighborhoods Department. If you have any doubts about the condition of a dwelling, you can call this office at 919-996-2444.
  3. Costs. North Carolina allows owners to charge as much rent as they wish for a unit. Make sure to consider utility fees into your monthly cost.
  4. Discrimination is illegal. If anyone refuses to rent to you based on your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and/or familial status they are breaking the law. You can file a complaint with the North Carolina Human Relations Commission or the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Signing A Lease and Fees

A lease is a written agreement between a property owner/ landlord and the renter setting out what each person must do. It is a binding agreement.

Lease Terms

Lease terms include:

  • Rent amount
  • Period of time you will rent the unit
  • Who can live in the unit with you
  • Prohibited activities such as noise, broken down cars, pets, etc. 

The landlord can include terms in a lease so long as they do not conflict with North Carolina or federal law, or City ordinances. Your landlord is responsible for making most repairs to the unit. And while your landlord can charge you late fees, there are limits on how much you can be charged. Generally speaking, only those persons who actually sign the lease can be held legally responsible for complying with it.

Paying a Deposit

Most landlords require that renters pay an amount upfront as a deposit against any future losses, such as damage to the unit or unpaid rent. The amount the landlord can charge for such a deposit is limited by law.

The landlord must hold the deposit until the tenant moves out, and neither the tenant nor landlord may use it for any purpose until then. The deposit may be used to cover reasonable costs to the landlord related to the tenancy, including damages that go beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid rent, and the costs of removing items you have left behind.

Lease Expiration

When the rental period in your lease ends, unless the lease provides otherwise, you will need to make a new agreement with the landlord in order to keep living there. 

Make sure to:

  • Read your lease carefully, because some leases require that you give notice to your landlord—often 30 days’ notice— in advance of when you plan to move.
  • If you move out early (before the lease allows), in most cases your landlord can hold you responsible for the rent they expected to receive from you during the lease period, until they can re-rent the unit.

Late fees

Your landlord may charge you a fee of up to $15 or 5% of your monthly rent, whichever is greater, as a fee for late payment of rent. The rent must be five or more days late before a late fee can be charged. If you receive a rent subsidy through the Section 8 program, only your share of the rental payment may be used to determine the amount of the fee.

Requesting Repairs

Everything supplied with the unit—including appliances such as a stove or refrigerator, toilets, showers, doors, windows, and other items—must work properly. Find out how to request a repair

Moving Out and Your Security Deposit

There are many reasons that you may leave your rental unit including the end of your lease period or eviction

Getting Ready to Move Out

Complete lease term. You as a tenant are required to follow the terms of whatever lease agreement you have made with the landlord. For example, if the lease is in effect for six months, you may not move out until those six months have passed. If you do, the landlord may be able to hold you responsible for any money they have lost.

Some leases have automatic renewal.  Some leases keep “rolling over” into a new term each time it reaches the final date. Often such notice must be given in writing 30 days in advance. Make sure to follow the directions for the termination of your lease. 

Protections for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. To terminate the lease, you must notify the landlord that you wish to do so and give him or her a copy of either a domestic violence protective order, a criminal order that restrains a person from contacting you or a household member, or a valid Address Confidentiality Card. If a sexual assault program recommends you or a member of your household move, provide the landlord with a copy. The termination is effective 30 days after the landlord receives this information.

Getting Back Your Security Deposit

Within 30 days after the tenant has vacated the leased premises, the landlord must tell the tenant in writing what costs the deposit has been used for and must refund any amount of the deposit that the landlord is not entitled to keep. As the tenant, you need to notify the landlord of your new mailing address. 

A landlord may not keep any portion of the security deposit beyond the requirements imposed by law. If you feel that a landlord has acted illegally, you may sue the landlord in Wake County Small Claims Court to recover your deposit.

Housing and Neighborhoods
Board, Commission or Committee:
Fair Housing Hearing Board
Related Services:
Tenants' Rights Handbook



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