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North Carolina Gen Stat 42-42(b)
NC Gen Stat 42-42(b)
This statute reads as follows: "(b) The landlord is not released of his obligations under any part of this section by the tenant's explicit or implicit acceptance of the landlord's failure to provide premises complying with this section, whether done before the lease was made, when it was made, or after it was made, unless a governmental subdivision imposes an impediment to repair for a specific period of time not to exceed six months. Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, the landlord and tenant are not prohibited from making a subsequent written contract wherein the tenant agrees to perform specified work on the premises, provided that said contract is supported by adequate consideration other than the letting of the premises and is not made with the purpose or effect of evading the landlord's obligations under this Article"
This is one of my new favorite statutes. Why? Because it says that a landlord cannot escape liability just by inserting a clause in the lease stating that he or she is not liable. I've read a lot of leases in my short time as an attorney, and in nearly every one of them, there's a clause just like that, stating the landlord is not liable for any damages regardless of the cause.
I didn't post it, but further up in 42-42, there's a list of duties the landlord is required to abide by. Some highlights are as follows:
- Keep the property in a fit and habitable condition.
- Maintain in safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning and other facilities and appliances.
- Provide operable smoke detectors.
- Provide at least 1 carbon monoxide detector.
- Repair or remedy any imminently dangerous condition within a reasonable time after being notified. This includes: faulty wiring, unsafe floors or steps, lack of potable water, lack of operable locks on doors leading outside, broken windows or lack of locks on ground level windows, lack of heat when it is 20 degrees outside, lack of a toilet, rat infestation, and excessive standing water.
Why do I write this hub?
I want you to be more informed. Granted, not that many people read their lease, so not that many people know this deceptive clause is in it; however, you should know that just because something is in a contract or a lease does not mean that it is enforceable. Most things still are, but this is one example where public policy has stated that we don't like it when landlords try to take advantage of their tenants.
Don't believe me? The North Carolina Department of Justice released a guide for tenants on what their rights are under the Residential Rental Agreements Act of 1977. In there, it includes a section titled "Duties of the Landlord Cannot be Waived." In that section, it reads, in part "Many leases contain such clauses, and tenants should not be fooled into thinking such clauses are binding."
I hope this helps everyone sleep more soundly knowing their rights are not automatically signed away here in North Carolina. Other states have very similar provisions, but I cannot speak to them at this point in time.