Landlord's Guide to Complying with Federal, State and Local Landlord-Tenant Laws

A review of federal, state and local landlord-tenant laws which often cause costly legal issues for landlords.

Federal, state, and local landlord-tenant laws cover many aspects of the landlord and tenant relationship, from tenant screening and security deposits to evictions and maintaining rental homes to meet local housing codes. Landlords who own rental properties in North Carolina, or in any other state, must comply with federal, state and local laws and regulations or face fines and costly legal battles.

For landlords, staying informed, up-to-date and in compliance with all federal, state and local laws can be overwhelming. It is, however, a necessity. Below, we take a look at a few of the common areas where landlords run afoul of the law so that you can avoid costly mistakes.

Disclaimer – The following information is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions about laws, ask an attorney versed in landlord-tenant law.

Landlords and the Fair Housing Act – Federal and State

Most landlords renting homes across the country have heard of HUD and the Fair Housing Act. Did you know, however, that these anti-discrimination laws also exist at the state level? For example, here in North Carolina, providing all persons equal opportunity to rent a home falls under the North Carolina Fair Housing Act. With that in mind, make sure to familiarize yourself with the state law where your rental property is located.

Let’s take a brief look at the Fair Housing Act which many landlords encounter during the tenant screening process. As you will see below, this is not the only time landlords can be in violation of this federal law.

According to HUD, “The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.”

Examples of what a landlord may not do under the Fair Housing Act include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, religion, or any other protected category
  • Falsely deny that a rental unit is available
  • Create more restrictive standards for selecting tenants or refuse to rent to members of certain groups
  • Set different terms, conditions, or privileges for rental of a dwelling unit before or during the tenancy.
  • Terminate a tenancy for a discriminatory reason.

Complying with State Landlord and Tenant Laws

Landlords who want to avoid legal troubles and protect their real estate investment must also have a detailed understanding of state laws. State anti-discrimination laws were mentioned above, but those are not the only legal responsibilities for landlords on the state level. Let’s take a look at some other state level landlord-tenant laws.

Avoid costly compliance missteps by understanding state laws about the following:

  • Security Deposits
  • Termination for Nonpayment of Rent
  • Lead-Based Paint Disclosures
  • Late Fees
  • Provide Habitable Housing
  • Landlord Access to Rental Property
  • Eviction Rules
  • Rent Increases as Retaliation
  • More…

Staying in compliance with state laws can be a tricky matter for landlords, especially ones residing in another state, because these landlord-tenant laws are always evolving. An experienced property management company can be a very good ally when it comes to protecting your rental property investment and complying with state laws.

Local Municipalities and Rental Properties

Complying with local housing codes is another responsibility of landlords. These housing codes detail what a landlord must provide for a tenant in regards to habitable conditions and safety measures. The ordinances and regulations of local municipalities regarding residential rental properties can be as confusing and complicated as state laws.

This landlord’s guide to complying with federal, state and local landlord-tenant laws is just an overview of compliance issues landlords face day in and day out across the country. A lack of knowledge about laws regulating the landlord-tenant relationship is no excuse for not complying with these laws. Landlords can do themselves a favor by hiring legal representation or working with a property management company to stay on the right side of these federal, state and local landlord-tenant laws.

Landlords, would you like an ally to help minimize your exposure to liability and protect your North Carolina real estate investments? Contact us today to learn more about Red Door Company’s property management services for North Carolina landlords with rental properties in Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh.