Renting a House in the Outer Banks? Know Your Rights Under the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act

Outer Banks Rental Houses

If you’re thinking of renting a home or condo for your beach trip to the Outer Banks — or if you own or are thinking of buying a rental property there — you should understand the provisions of the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act. The Act contains detailed provisions relating to residential vacation rentals. It applies to tenants, landlords, and real estate brokers in North Carolina.

Which Rentals Are Covered by the NC Vacation Rental Act?

The statute applies to any business or person who is a landlord or real estate broker renting or managing “residential property for vacation rentals.” Residential properties include:

  • Apartments
  • Condominiums
  • Single-family homes
  • Townhouses
  • Cottages
  • Any property dedicated to residential use or occupancy for a definite or indefinite period

A vacation rental is defined as including a residential property rented for a period of less than 90 days for vacation, leisure, or recreation, by someone who has a permanent residence elsewhere.

The North Carolina Vacation Rental Act does not apply to:

  • Hotels, motels, tourists camps, and other places regulated by other state laws
  • Rentals for business or employment purposes
  • A rental to a person with no other primary residence
  • Rentals for a nominal payment

What Does the Vacation Rental Act Require?

Written Agreement

For any covered residential vacation rental, the law requires the landlord or real estate broker to provide the tenant with a written agreement. The agreement must include:

  • Specific statements about the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act
  • A statement of your rights and obligations as a tenant
  • A statement of the rights and obligations of the landlord or broker
  • The amount of the rent
  • The amount of the security deposit and a statement about how it will be held
  • The amount of any additional fees related to the rental, such as cleaning and processing fees
  • Applicability of expedited eviction procedures
  • Details about how funds will be handled in advance of occupancy

Landlord and Tenant Rights and Obligations

The statute sets out in great detail all the rights and obligations of tenants, landlords, and real estate brokers in residential vacation rental arrangements. Those requirements all apply to any rental subject to the law.

The landlord is required to provide “fit premises,” which includes putting the property in fit and habitable condition and keeping it that way, keeping common areas in safe condition, and maintaining and repairing all utilities and major appliances. There are other specific requirements relating to habitability as well.

The tenant is required to maintain the rental property, keep it as clean and safe as the condition of the property permits, and create no unsafe or unsanitary conditions in common areas or the part of the property the tenant uses. The statute includes other specific provisions relating to the tenant’s obligations, including responsibility for damage or removal of property and notification to landlord about the need for repairs.

Real estate brokers have responsibilities under the act as well, including duties relating to management of the property and compliance with laws prohibiting discrimination.

The law includes detailed provisions relating to handling and accounting of funds by landlords and real estate brokers in residential vacation rental transactions.

Mandatory Evacuation Provisions

The law addresses the tenant’s rights if a mandatory evacuation is ordered for an area that includes the rental property. The tenant is required to comply with the evacuation order. The landlord is required to refund the rent for nights that the tenant is unable to occupy the property, unless the landlord offered insurance for the loss. If the landlord offered insurance, the tenant does not have to be refunded, regardless of whether the tenant purchased the insurance.

If the tenant is unable to occupy the property for personal reasons other than a mandatory evacuation or other official action, the landlord does not have to refund the rent.

Transfer of the Rental Property

If a residential vacation rental property is sold, a tenant can enforce an existing rental agreement if the rental is scheduled to end within 180 days of transfer of the property. A tenant has no right to enforce the rental agreement if it ends more than 180 days after transfer and is entitled to a full refund of any money paid on the rental. However, the new owner can agree to honor the rental agreement.

Enforcement and Penalties

Procedures for enforcing the requirements of the Vacation Rental Act and penalties for violations are included in the law. Those provisions cover processes for eviction, including an expedited eviction process that can be used under specific circumstances.

Talk With a Northeastern North Carolina Real Estate Attorney About the Vacation Rental Act

If you are a renter facing problems with a residential vacation rental, or you own or are thinking of buying a rental property in the Outer Banks, our trusted North Carolina real estate attorneys at The Twiford Law Firm are here to help. We understand the full scope of all the provisions of the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act. We can answer all your questions and assist with your legal needs relating to your rental or property.

With offices in Elizabeth City and Moyock, we serve clients throughout northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks. Contact us today at 252-338-4151 or 252-435-2811 to schedule an initial consultation.

Categories: Real Estate Law