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Security Deposits in North Carolina: How Much Can A Landlord Charge?

Finding a home to rent in the Greater Raleigh area may be easy with the high number of rental properties currently listed in MLS, Craigslist and other websites, however, terms can vary with each property owner or property management company.  How do you know what may be required?  This morning I received this question from a possible future tenant:

Hi Linda,

I am interested in finding out more about one of your rental properties.  I am looking to move in by April 1 and have been trying to wrap up things with my previous landlord.   I noticed that the information sheet mentioned that the owner would be charging a security deposit equal to two months rent.   Is that legal?   Can he do that?  In the past I have only had to pay a deposit equal to only one month.   Please explain.



Landlords and Security Deposits in North Carolina 

Hi Joy,

Thank you for asking and for taking a look at my rental listing.  Here in North Carolina deposit amounts may vary depending on the length of the lease.  Here is a quick rule of thumb which is adopted from a publication from the North Carolina Real Estate Commission:

  • If you are renting on a week to week basis then your deposit should not be more than 2 weeks worth of the rental amount
  • If you are renting on a month to month status then it cannot be more than 1 1/2 months of rent.
  • If your lease term is greater than a month to month lease your deposit cannot be more than two months worth of rent.

If you have any further questions about security deposits please feel free to ask a private attorney or contact the North Carolina Real Estate Commission’s Legal Department at 919-875-3700.


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