(a) Every rental referral agency before beginning business shall establish a trust account with a licensed and insured bank or savings institution located in the State of North Carolina. Each deposit to be applied towards a fee collected under G.S. 66-143(b) shall be placed in the trust account and shall be withdrawn only to refund the deposit to the applicant pursuant to G.S. 66-143(b)(2) or when a fee is earned by the agency as provided in G.S. 66-143(a).
(b) A rental referral agency may elect to post a bond in lieu of the trust account required by this section. The amount of the bond shall at no time be less than the amount that would be required by this section to be held in trust. In no event, however, shall the bond be less than five thousand dollars ($5,000). The rental referral agency shall file the bond with the clerk of the superior court of the county in which its principal place of business is located.
(c) Any person who is damaged by any violation of this Article, or by any breach by the rental referral agency of its contract, may bring an action for the remedies referred to and provided in G.S. 66-146 against the bond or trust account; provided that the aggregate liability of the surety or trustee shall not exceed the amount of the bond or trust account.
(d) Violation of subsections (a) or (b) of this section shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor. (1981, c. 610, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 524; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)