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The landlord must keep the security deposit in NC or post a bond to secure repayment of the security deposit. They also have to provide you with the location of the bank or the insurance company where the bond is located. Below is the text of the act.
§ 42-50. Deposits from the tenant. Security deposits from the tenant in residential dwelling units shall be deposited in a trust account with a licensed and federally insured depository institution lawfully doing business in this State or the landlord may, at his option, furnish a bond from an insurance company licensed to do business in North Carolina. The security deposits from the tenant may be held in a trust account outside of the State of North Carolina only if the landlord provides the tenant with an adequate bond in the amount of said deposits. The landlord or his agent shall notify the tenant within 30 days after the beginning of the lease term of the name and address of the bank or institution where his deposit is currently located or the name of the insurance company providing the bond.
Here is a link to the NC Attorney General explanation of your rights.
You should have been informed of where the security deposit was maintained. If you were not, that will be part of your complaint. Your next step should be to get the following confirmation from the management company. First, they agree that you are entitled to return of 100% of your security deposit. Second that the security deposit is neither in possession of the management company nor does the management company know where in NC the deposit is maintained and that they are not aware of any bond posted by the landlord as required by law. Once you get that confirmation contact the Attorney General to see if they can help you. If that does not work, you will probably have to sue in regular court but you should ask for your attorneys fees because you could not sue the out of state landlord in small claims court. To get the case heard you had to go to regular court which is not designed for pro se plaintiffs.
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