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Caveat Emptor Applies to Vacation Rentals in North Carolina
Description Members of a family were injured when a deck on a vacation rental house collapsed. The North Carolina high court held that under the common law there is no implied warranty of suitability for such short-term rentals; the terms of the lease contract determine liability, so the case was to be dismissed.
Topic Real Property
Key Words Implied Warranty; Caveat Emptor; Vacation Rentals
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Plaintiffs rented a beachfront house for a two-week family vacation that included a dozen family members. The house was owned by defendants, who had its rental handled by Emerald Isle Realty. All members of the plaintiff family stood on an upstairs deck to have their photo taken. The deck collapsed, injuring all family members. The trial court dismissed the suit; the appeals court reversed the dismissal; the North Carolina supreme court reviewed that order.
Decision Case dismissed. North Carolina's Residential Rental Agreements Act does not apply to this case; a rental unit is not the primary residence of the vacation tenants, which is what the law covers. It does not apply to vacation rentals, which are under the common law. The common law "is the common law of England to the extent it was in force and use within this state at the time of the Declaration of Independence." The rule of caveat emptor applies to landlord-tenant relations such as this one, since it was not amended by statute. There is no implied warranty doctrine that applies to such instances. "The controlling law imposes no duty upon the landlord to repair or maintain the leased premises for the short-term tenant's benefit."
Citation Conley v. Emerald Isle Realty, Inc., 513 S.E.2d 556 (Sup. Ct., N.C., 1999)

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