Monday, April 25, 2011


If you are a Triangle area property owner this is one of the must attend events each year:

TAA Annual Trade Show

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Member price is $25; Non Member price is $35
Exposition Center, NC State Fairgrounds, Raleigh

Who is the Triangle Apartment Association(TAA)?

Here is the thumbnail sketch that they provide about themselves:

The Triangle Apartment Association is a non-profit trade association serving the multifamily rental housing industry. Our members are comprised of individuals and companies who develop, own, manage, and provide goods and services to the apartment industry in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.

The TAA focuses its efforts in the following four areas:

 serving the rental housing industry by providing education for professional development

 protecting the interests of rental housing providers through legislative advocacy

 fostering business partnerships, and

 participating in the betterment of the Triangle and surrounding communities

TAA At a Glance

 Founded: 1984
 Member Companies: 825
 Apartment Communities: 406
 Management Companies: 119
 Independent Rental Owners: 57
 Vendor/Suppliers: 243
 Total Member Dwellings: 97,435
 Resident Population: 194,870

Now I am going to put in my two cents about the TAA:

The TAA is a great group of people work hard to make your life as a property owner easier! They have many educational opportunities to keep you up to date and out of trouble, and they are active both politically and legislatively. They are politically active through their Political Action Committee and they both keep on top of, and work to help shape, local regulations. The TAA is active legislatively through their parent organization the Apartment Association of North Carolina (in which you automatically are eligible for membership if you join the TAA). The legislation they sponsor greatly assists property owners of all sizes! CherylAnn Houseman is the Government Affairs Director at the TAA and she is a great person and a great resource for you, the property owner.

Also, Valli Gibson, the Member Services Coordinator, is very helpful on all of your day to day membership needs. Everyone at the TAA is great, these two women are the ones that I work with most often.

One other quick point, the TAA is there for you if you are a large property owner or if you have just one unit. If you are on the smaller side there is a sub-group called IROC or the Individual Rental Owners Committee, focused on the interests specific to smaller owners.

I cannot say enough good things about these people or this organization. If you are unfamiliar with them go to event on Wednesday and their website at

Sunday, April 17, 2011


The Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA) as it relates to landlords is one of the biggest areas of potential liability for North Carolina landlords.

What is the Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices Act?

The Unfair & Deceptive Trade Practices Act is kind of like the legal equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife for going after a business. It can be used for just about anything. The UDTPA declares unlawful “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”

If we were to break it up it goes kind of like this:

(1) An unfair or deceptive act or practice;
(2) In or affecting commerce; which
(3) Proximately caused actual injury to the claimant or his business

Additionally, if you want to read the actual language of the UDTPA it begins at N.C.G.S. 75-1.

What does this have to do with being a landlord?

Sadly, the answer is plenty. The NC Court of Appeals has held that “Residential rental agreements fall within Chapter 75 because ‘the rental of residential housing is’ considered commerce pursuant to N.C. Gen.Stat. § 75-1.1.” Incidentally, the Act affects commercial landlords too.

Actions or inactions within the landlord-tenant relationship that may violate the UDTPA include:

1. Failing to maintain rental property in a “fully” habitable condition and continuing to demand rent. The North Carolina Appellate Court has held that collecting rent after having knowledge of the uninhabitable nature of part of a rental unit (water leaking in one of the bedrooms and the living room) constituted unfair trade practices and was thus a violation. The actual amount of “uninhabitability” of the premises that will trigger a UDTPA violation will be a fact sensitive question for each individual case;
2. Attempting to force a tenant out without filing for eviction by cutting off water and electricity to the rental unit (this is also a violation of the Ejectment of Residential Tenants Act);
3. Renting a property that you only have an option to purchase; and
4. Attempting to collect money you are not entitled to, or using means prohibited by the North Carolina Debt Collections Act.

Hopefully if you are smart enough to read this article you would not even think of doing anything that would violate numbers 2 and 3 above. These should be big red flags.

With respect to paragraph 4, you need to be familiar with at least the North Carolina Debt Collection Practice Act, N.C.G.S. 42-46 (which regulates the amount of late fees and court appearance fees), and your lease.

Paragraph number 1, regarding habitability issues, is a little more tricky and will require that you are familiar with N.C.G.S. 42-42 (which addresses a landlord’s responsibility to provide fit premises), your lease, any other local, federal, or state regulations that may apply to your rental unit, and most importantly common sense.

What if you didn’t mean to do anything wrong?

Unfortunately, the answer is: Too Bad. The North Carolina courts have held that the intent of the defendant is irrelevant, even if he is acting in good faith.

Ok, so we know what the act is, why is it so scary?

The UDTPA provides for mandatory recovery of treble damages if the court finds a violation of the statute. Additionally, if facts also support recovery for punitive damages, the plaintiff may allege both, but the recovery is limited to one or the other. Further, the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the attorney representing the prevailing party when the losing party willfully engaged in the unfair practice, and there was an unwarranted refusal by such party to fully resolve the matter which constitutes the basis of such suit.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to post or send me an e-mail.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fair Housing Act and Childern in North Carolina

The other day one of my clients called and asked the following QUESTION:

"Can I refuse to rent a North Carolina property to a tenant because they have too many children?"

My insightful ANSWER was:

No. You may limit the maximum number of occupants, but you may not specifically limit the number of children.

Limiting the number of children is a violation of the State Fair Housing Act. It is considered discrimination based on "familial status."

The State Fair Housing Act provides in pertinent part:

§ 41A‐4. Unlawful Discriminatory Housing Practices.

(a) It is an unlawful discriminatory housing practice for any person in a real estate
transaction, because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicapping
condition, or familial status to:
(1) Refuse to engage in a real estate transaction;
(8) Otherwise make unavailable or deny housing.

The Act defines "familial status" at N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 41A-3 :

"Familial status" means one or more persons who have not attained the age of 18 years being domiciled with:

a. A parent or another person having legal custody of the person or persons; or
b. The designee of the parent or other person having custody, provided the designee has the written permission of the parent or other person.

The protections against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or is in the process of securing legal custody of any person who has not attained the age of 18 years.

And just in case you were doubting that the act covered rental property, it defines "real estate transaction":

“Real estate transaction” means the sale, exchange, rental, or lease of real

Generally if you are in doubt with respect to Fair Housing Act violations it is better to be safe than sorry. It is always a good idea to consult with someone knowledgeable about the Fair Housing Act.

Norm Praet, Esq.
Helping clients realize goals while minimizing risks.

Legal Disclaimer

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Nothing in this blog shall create an attorney-client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the blogger and not of the PRAET LAW FIRM, PLLC.