Signing a Lease
The relationship between you and your
landlord is defined with a contract, typically a lease. Leases vary from
landlord to landlord, but clauses in the lease will generally fall into one of
the following categories:
1. Restatement of guaranteed legal rights
2. A variation of a negotiable state or local law
3. A policy or rule not covered by state/local
In North Carolina, a lease can be in
writing or a verbal agreement. It is advisable to avoid verbal agreements,
however, if your landlord insists on a verbal agreement, prepare a letter of
understanding, documenting basic terms of the agreement and other things you
discussed prior to moving in.
Review and understand all parts of the
lease before you sign it. If you've negotiated for things that are not written
in the lease, include an addendum documenting what you agreed to and be sure
that you and the landlord sign it.
Security Deposits & Fees
In addition to collecting the first
month's rent, your landlord may collect additional money prior to move-in.
Security Deposits in North Carolina –link:
Typically between $10-$50,
this fee pays for the expense of processing your application. This is a
nonrefundable fee. Unless stated otherwise, if you are denied housing, you do
not get this money back; if you are approved, it is not applied to your rent.
A security deposit provides assurance
to the landlord that they will be reimbursed for possible specific losses
caused by the tenant. With a rental period greater than month-to month, a
landlord can charge up to the equivalent of 2 month's rent. At the end of your
lease term your landlord must refund your deposit within 30 days after your
termination of tenancy. If the landlord refunds part of or none of your
security deposit, they must provide you an itemized list of deductions.
Expect this fee if you plan on moving
into an apartment complex. The fee is typically $200-$300, is nonrefundable and
may replace the security deposit (although some complexes will charge both).
Pet Deposit/Pet Fee/Pet Rent
If you have a pet, your landlord will
likely charge a deposit, fee or both. Just remember, a pet deposit is
refundable (unless your pet does a lot of damage to the rental), a pet fee is
nonrefundable. Some landlords charge additional rent for your pet/s.