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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.

Breaking a lease/moving out

back to topIf I am a victim, can I terminate (end) my lease early?

Yes.  If you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, you may be able to terminate your lease before it expires. However, you have to do the all of the following three things before terminating the lease:

  1. You have to give the landlord written notice that you want to end the lease and tell the landlord what date you want the lease to end.  However, the date you choose has to be at least 30 days from the day the landlord will receive your notice.
  2. You have to give the landlord a copy of one of the following documents along with the notice described above:
    • a "permanent" 50B domestic violence protective order or a 50C civil no-contact order; 
    • a criminal order that restrains (forbids) a person from contacting you (this could be a pre-trial release order or a criminal judgment or restraining order); or
    • a valid Address Confidentiality Program card. (Go to the NC Dept of Justice website to find information on the Address Confidentiality Program.)
  3. If you are a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault (doesn't apply to stalking victims), you must also give the landlord a copy of a safety plan (a written plan on ways to keep you safe) along with the documents mentioned above.  The safety plan has to:
  • be provided by a domestic violence or sexual assault program that is recognized by the Council for Women;
  • be dated during the term of the lease that you want to terminate; and
  • recommend that you (the tenant) relocate.*

A local program could help you in preparing and choosing the most appropriate documentation for your landlord.  Go to NC State and Local Programs to find programs in your area.

* NCGS § 42-45.1

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back to topOnce I give notice to my landlord to end my lease, do I still have to pay my rent?

You will only have to pay the rent that is due up to the termination date that you wrote in your notice to the landlord.  So, if you are ending your lease in the middle of the month, you are only responsible for half a month’s rent.  You have to pay it when the rent would normally be due under the terms of your lease (for example, the 1st or 15th of the month).  You cannot be charged any additional fees by the landlord for properly ending your lease early – for example, the landlord cannot keep your security deposit if you gave proper notice for terminating the lease.*  See If I am a victim, can I terminate (end) my lease early? for the proper way to end your lease.

* See NCGS § 42-45.1(b)

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back to topIf I want to end my lease, will my roommate or family members be kicked out of the residence?

Not necessarily.  If your roommate or other family members are also listed as tenants on the lease, their tenancy will continue even if you end yours.  Also, even if the perpetrator (abuser) 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.*

* NCGS § 42-45.1(c)

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