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Know the Laws: North Carolina

UPDATED August 17, 2016

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Below is information about housing-related protections for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Basic info

back to topWhat is a housing law?

A housing law is designed to protect your rights as a tenant.  North Carolina has a law that offers housing-related protection to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  The law includes protections from eviction and the right to break your lease in certain situations.  It also gives you the right to get the lock changed in your apartment.  This law does not include protection for an eviction case brought against you for not paying your rent.*

If you are not a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking but have questions about your housing rights, here are some links that may provide useful information:

  • For information on an anti-discrimination law called the Fair Housing Act, click here.
  • For basic tenant and landlord rights with contact info for legal assistance, click here.

If you are not sure if you are a victim of domestic violence, see What is the legal definition of domestic violence in NC?

* NCGS § 42-42.2

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back to topIf I am a victim, can a landlord refuse to rent me an apartment or kick me out of my apartment?

No.  In North Carolina, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  This means that a landlord cannot end a lease, refuse to renew a lease, or refuse to enter into a rental agreement with you because you or a household member of yours is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  Also, the landlord cannot treat you (the tenant) differently than s/he treats other tenants who are not victims of abuse.  For example, s/he cannot refuse to make needed repairs in your apartment because you are an abuse victim. 

Note: The landlord also cannot discriminate against you if you terminated your lease early due to the fact that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.*  For information on how to end your lease early, go to If I am a victim, can I terminate (end) my lease early?

* NCGS § 42-42.2

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back to topCan I get the landlord to change the locks of my residence or to allow me to do it?

Yes.  Your landlord has to either change the locks within either 48 or 72 hours (depending on whether the abuser is a tenant in the home or not) or give you permission to change the locks yourself.  However, whether the landlord does it or you do it, you are responsible for the expense of changing the locks.

There are different procedures that you have to follow to change the locks depending on whether the perpetrator (abuser) is a tenant in the same household or not.  Also, if you live in an apartment building that has a main entry door shared by many tenants, the landlord is only required to change the lock to your apartment, not to the main entry door.

If the perpetrator is not a tenant in the same residence as you:

  • You (the tenant) may give verbal or written notice to the landlord that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and may request that the locks be changed.  You are not required to provide documentation of the abuse to the landlord.
  • The landlord must change the locks or give you permission to change the locks within 48 hours of receiving the request from you.*

If the perpetrator is a tenant in the same residence as you:

  •  You (the tenant) may give verbal or written notice to the landlord that you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and may request that the locks be changed.
  • However, there must be a court order that orders the perpetrator (abuser) to stay away from the residence and you must provide a copy of this order to the landlord.  The order can be a protective order, a criminal judgment, a pre-trial release order, or any other order that says the abuser has to stay away from the home.
  • The landlord must change the locks or give you permission to change the locks within 72 hours.
  • Note: Even if the perpetrator is removed from the home, s/he can still be held responsible by the landlord for the rent and for any damage caused to the residence.**

If the landlord does not change the locks within the 48 hours or 72 hours required by law, you can change the locks to your residence without the landlord's permission.  However, if you change the locks, you must give a key to the new lock(s) to the landlord within 48 hours of the locks being changed.***

* NCGS § 42-42.3(a)
** NCGS § 42-42.3(b)
*** NCGS § 42-42.3(c)

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