Hickory, NC asked in Landlord - Tenant for North Carolina

Q: Can landlord charge for light bulbs and smoke detector batteries?

Took those costs out of security deposit

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1 Lawyer Answer
Will Blackton
Will Blackton
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: Under North Carolina law, a landlord generally may not charge a tenant for the cost of routine maintenance or repairs, such as replacing smoke detector batteries, out of the tenant's security deposit.

North Carolina's Tenant Security Deposit Act (TSDA) requires landlords to return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days of the end of the lease, less any lawful deductions. The TSDA allows landlords to deduct from the security deposit only for the following reasons:

(1) The tenant's possible nonpayment of rent and costs for water or sewer services provided pursuant to G.S. 62-110(g) and electric service pursuant to G.S. 62-110(h).

(2) Damage to the premises, including damage to or destruction of smoke alarms or carbon monoxide alarms.

(3) Damages as the result of the nonfulfillment of the rental period, except where the tenant terminated the rental agreement under G.S. 42-45, G.S. 42-45.1, or because the tenant was forced to leave the property because of the landlord's violation of Article 2A of Chapter 42 of the General Statutes or was constructively evicted by the landlord's violation of G.S. 42-42(a).

(4) Any unpaid bills that become a lien against the demised property due to the tenant's occupancy.

(5) 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.

(6) The costs of removal and storage of the tenant's property after a summary ejectment proceeding.

(7) Court costs.

(8) Any fee permitted by G.S. 42-46.

Furthermore, as part of their obligation to provide fit premises, landlords are required to: Provide operable smoke alarms, either battery-operated or electrical, having an Underwriters' Laboratories, Inc., listing or other equivalent national testing laboratory approval, and install the smoke alarms in accordance with either the standards of the National Fire Protection Association or the minimum protection designated in the manufacturer's instructions, which the landlord shall retain or provide as proof of compliance. The landlord shall replace or repair the smoke alarms within 15 days of receipt of notification if the landlord is notified of needed replacement or repairs in writing by the tenant. The landlord shall ensure that a smoke alarm is operable and in good repair at the beginning of each tenancy. Unless the landlord and the tenant have a written agreement to the contrary, the landlord shall place new batteries in a battery-operated smoke alarm at the beginning of a tenancy and the tenant shall replace the batteries as needed during the tenancy, except where the smoke alarm is a tamper-resistant, 10-year lithium battery smoke alarm as required by subdivision (5a) of this subsection. Failure of the tenant to replace the batteries as needed shall not be considered as negligence on the part of the tenant or the landlord.

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