Tenant Law in North Carolina
Relationships between landlords and tenants in Chapel Hill, North Carolina can get combative. It's difficult to be a tenant or a landlord. If one or both parties are not aware of their legal rights and obligations, conflicts can arise.
Landlords and tenants have various rights and responsibilities. What follows is a partial list of the rights that landlords and tenants have, and the corresponding duties of the other party.
Landlord's Rights in Chapel Hill, NC
Most obviously, landlords have a right to collect rent from their tenants. When a tenant agrees to pay a landlord a specific amount of money for the right to occupy the landlord's property, a contract is formed. Tenants have to hold up their end of the deal.
They additionally have a right to compensation for any damage that a tenant causes, beyond ordinary wear and tear. Landlords are free to bill the tenants for repairs to damage they caused, and deduct the cost from the security deposit.
Tenant's Rights in Chapel Hill, NC
At the most basic level, tenants have a basic right to what they're paying for: a habitable living environment. Consequently, landlords in Chapel Hill, North Carolina must ensure that the units they rent to tenants meet some basic standards for human habitation. These requirements vary from state to state, but are often fairly easy to meet. There are no legal criteria that rented units be pretty, particularly spacious, or luxurious. They simply have to be fit for human beings to live in them. To be considered "habitable," rented units must have water, electricity, some form of heating (if the local climate necessitates it), and adequate protection from the elements (proper insulation, no roof leaks, windows that close, etc.).
Furthermore, tenants have rights to common areas that are free of physical obstructions, as well as serious health and safety hazards. Common areas are the places in apartment buildings and other residential complexes which every tenant can access, and include hallways, stairwells, and fire escapes. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, these areas must be kept in a safe condition, at the landlord's expense.
Under federal and North Carolina law, tenants are also entitled to protection against discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, marital status, or gender. Such discrimination can lead to grave civil penalties against the landlord. Landlords additionally cannot discriminate against tenants based on physical disability, and have to make reasonable accommodations for physically disabled tenants. For instance, they have to allow disabled tenants to make minor physical alterations to the unit (at the tenant's expense) to make it more accessible. Now, they don't need to allow the tenants to have the building remodeled. We're just talking about things like installing handrails in the bathroom, and similar things. The landlord can, however, require tenants to restore the apartment to its original condition, at the tenant's expense, once the tenant leaves.
Lastly, tenants in most states have a right to be free from unfair eviction. Usually, lease agreements last for a set period of time, and both parties are bound by that contract. Landlords cannot arbitrarily evict clients while the lease is still in effect.
Can a Chapel Hill, North Carolina Landlord/Tenant Lawyer Help?
Landlords and tenants generally want to avoid conflict with one another. Nonetheless, conflicts are sometimes unavoidable. If you end up in a major dispute with a landlord or a tenant, a reliable Chapel Hill, North Carolina landlord/tenant attorney can help.