Breaking a Lease in North Carolina - Know the Laws

Breaking a Lease in North Carolina - Know the Laws

As a landlord in North Carolina, you should know the rules and regulations when it comes to lease termination.

In this article, we’ll cover unjustified and justified reasons for early lease termination. This way, you’ll be well informed when it comes to your rights as well as your tenants’ rights.

Rental Agreement in North Carolina

Having a clear rental agreement is essential. When your tenant signs their lease, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to make sure that they’re aware of both the penalties for unjustifiably breaking a lease, as well as their rights for justifiably breaking a lease.

Your rental agreement should also include how much notice a tenant must give you when ending their periodic lease in North Carolina.

North Carolina tenants are not mandated to give landlords a written notice for fixed end date leases. The lease will terminate automatically after the date of the lease term. 

However, tenants are required to provide a written notice for the following lease terms:

●  2 days’ notice for tenants who rent on a weekly basis

●  7 days’ notice for tenants who rent on a monthly basis

●  Notice of one month or more before the end of the current year of the tenancy for tenants with a yearly lease with no end date

●  60 days’ notice before the end of the current rental period, regardless of the term of the tenancy, for tenants who rent a space for a manufactured home


You should also include your responsibility as a landlord to re-rent the unit.

According to North Carolina state law, landlords are not required to take reasonable steps to re-rent their unit as soon as a tenant breaks their lease.

A solid lease agreement should also include the tenant’s rights to sublet in North Carolina.

Tenants in North Carolina can sublet the rental unit if there is no clear provision in the lease that prohibits subletting. Landlords may include a clause in the lease to require tenants to obtain approval prior to subletting the property. 

The request for approval should be sent to the landlord through certified mail with a return receipt. In addition, the tenant should include the following information with the request:

●  Term of the sublease

●  Name of the proposed subtenant

●  Permanent home address of the proposed subtenant

●  Reasons why tenants are subletting or leaving permanently

●  Tenant’s new address during the sublease

●  If there are other co-tenants, written consent must be included

●  Copy of proposed sublease

The sublet request may be rejected by a landlord based on legitimate factors. Under North Carolina law, landlords are not allowed to unreasonably refuse to sublet.

Unjustified Reasons to Break a Lease in North Carolina

The reasons below are generally not enough justification (on their own) to release a tenant from the lease and as a result, provide no legal protection against an eviction or loss of their security deposit for not honoring the lease:


●  The tenant bought a house.

●  The tenant is relocating for a new job or school.

●  The tenant is upgrading or downgrading.

●  The tenant is moving in with a partner.

●  The tenant is moving to be closer to family.

Breaking a lease for any of the above reasons without court approval or in any conditions not previously outlined can have tangible consequences for North Carolina tenants.

If a tenant would like to break a lease for any of these reasons, the tenant should ask the landlord to agree to a mutual termination

Justified Reasons to Break a Lease in North Carolina

As a landlord in North Carolina, you should know the justified reasons for a tenant to break a lease early. Below are justified reasons for early lease termination:

1. Early Termination Clause

As a landlord, you have the option to allow tenants to pre-terminate their lease in exchange for a penalty fee. Simply include an early termination clause in the lease agreement, together with other important requirements, such as the number of days of the notice and the fee amount.

2. Active Military Duty

Tenants who are on active military duty may break a lease without consequences as they’re protected by the Relief Act. To be eligible, tenants should prove that they signed the lease before entering the military. They should also prove that they’ll remain on duty for the next 90 days.


Tenants should provide a written notice to the landlord with a copy of their orders to deploy or their permanent change of station. They can also submit a letter from their commanding officer stating the deployment. 

This protection takes place beginning on the date the tenant enters active duty up to 30 to 90 days after discharge.

3. The Unit is Uninhabitable

North Carolina landlords have legal responsibilities to provide a habitable place for tenants. The property must stay in compliance with the state’s building codes, as well as health and safety standards.

Any repair issues should be addressed as soon as possible. If the property becomes unfit for residence or is deemed uninhabitable, tenants may be allowed to break their lease without consequences.

4. Other Legal Reasons for Breaking the Lease

●  Privacy Violation: In North Carolina, there’s no statute for landlord entry, but landlords are recommended to provide a 24 hour notice before entering the property.

●  Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking: Special rental provisions are provided to tenants who are victims of domestic violence. Landlords are entitled to verify the claim and may require proof of status.

●  Senior Citizen or Health Issue: Tenants may be able to pre-terminate a lease for reasons that are related to age and health.


We hope this article has helped you understand your rights and responsibilities as a landlord in North Carolina. Staying updated on these laws and ensuring that you’re always compliant takes a lot of work, but it’s crucial to the success of your rental property.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us today! Alotta Properties is a leading property management company in Fayetteville and has years of experience working with landlords and investors. Contact us today at 910.426.7492!

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws change and this information may become obsolete at the time you read it. For further help, please get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company.

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