Failure by tenants and landlords to properly understand the basics of the state laws can often lead to legal problems. For example, the landlord may not be aware that he or she must give the tenant a 24 hours’ notice prior to entering the rental unit.
A tenant, on the other hand, may not know that it’s illegal for them to make any alterations to the property without the landlord’s knowledge.
If you’d like to know more about landlord-tenant laws in South Carolina, this guide should get you started. For further information on South Carolina’s property rental laws contact us today!
1. Small Claims Lawsuits in South Carolina
Also known as a Magistrates Court, a Small Claims Court is a civil court that’s set up for the speedy and inexpensive determination of civil cases. In South Carolina, the most you can ask in a case is $7,500.
Unlike a district court, court procedures in a small claim’s court are quick, inexpensive, and simple.
2. South Carolina Security Deposit Laws
In South Carolina, security deposits are required by most residential leases and rental agreements. The deposit cushions the landlord against property damage caused by the renter’s carelessness or negligence. It also helps cushion the financial blow in the event that a renter decides to vacate the rental premises early without paying rent.
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding security deposits in South Carolina:
- Does the law put the cap on the amount of security deposit a landlord can ask?
No, it doesn’t. Landlords are free to charge whatever amount they see fit. While this may be the case at the state level, some county laws may have rules that put a limit on the security deposit amount.
- After receipt of the security deposit, is a written notice required in South Carolina?
No, the landlord isn’t required to give a written notice after receiving the tenant’s security deposit.
- When should a landlord return the deposit back to the renter?
The landlord must return the deposit 30 days after termination of the tenancy. This is assuming the tenant didn’t cause property damage in excess of wear and tear.
3. Required Landlord Disclosures in South Carolina
Landlords must disclose certain facts, policies, and rules about the property to tenants. This is a requirement by federal, state and local laws. Under South Carolina rental law, the landlord must disclose the following information to the renter:
- A known lead paint hazards.
- Their duties as well as the duties of their tenants.
- Before commencement of the tenancy, landlords must disclose to the renter in writing the name and addresses of the landlord or property owner.
- Landlords must also provide their tenants a copy of the lease agreement.
4. Renter’s Rights & Responsibilities in South Carolina
Although landlords are primarily responsible for ensuring the rental unit’s habitability, tenants too are responsible for certain repairs. Here are common tenant duties in South Carolina: (§ 27-40-510)
- Cleanliness: Renters must at all times keep the premises clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit.
- Compliance: Tenants must comply with all housing and building codes materially affecting safety and health.
- Plumbing: Tenants must keep all plumbing fixtures they use or in the dwelling unit clean.
- Lawful activity: Not remove any part of the premises or not negligently or deliberately damage, deface, destroy any part of the premises.
- Trash: Dispose of all garbage and other waste in a safe and clean manner.
- Pursuant to Section 27-40-520, comply with the lease and rules and regulations.
5. Landlord’s Responsibilities in South Carolina
As the person in charge of the rental unit, landlords have many duties pursuant to Section (§ 27-40-440). The responsibilities are as follows:
- Delivery: In compliance with the SC rental agreement and section 27-40-440, the landlord shall deliver possession of the property to the renter at the commencement of the tenancy.
- Repairs: Landlords must keep the premises in a habitable condition by making timely repairs.
- Compliance: Landlords must abide by all applicable South Carolina housing and building codes materially affecting safety and health.
- Maintenance: All heating, sanitary, plumbing, electrical, air-conditioning, ventilating, and other appliances and facilities must be maintained in good and safe working order and condition.
- Landlords must keep all common areas in a safe and clean condition at all times.
- Heating and water supply: Except where the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or water is supplied by a direct public utility connection or the dwelling isn’t required by law to be equipped for that purpose, landlords must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water and heat at all times.
6. South Carolina Federal Fair Housing Laws
The South Carolina Fair Housing Laws state that it’s illegal to discriminate in housing based on certain protected characteristics. Protected characteristics include familial status, physical or mental disability, national origin, sex, religion, color, or race.
Acts that may be considered discriminatory in South Carolina include:
- Refuse to rent to members of certain groups or set more restrictive standards for selecting tenants.
- Falsely deny that a rental unit is available.
- Advertise or make a statement that indicates preference or limitation based on a protected characteristic.
- Terminate a tenancy for a discriminatory reason.
- Set discriminatory privileges, conditions, or terms for rental of a dwelling unit.
7. South Carolina Rental Laws on Landlord Entry
Landlords must respect a tenant’s right to privacy. In South Carolina, landlords must provide a 24 hours’ notice prior to entering a rental unit. The notice should disclose the time and purpose of the entry.
The entry times must also be reasonable. For example, between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on weekends.
Landlords may need to enter a rental unit for various reasons. For instance, to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers or to make necessary or agreed repairs.
However, there are instances where a prior notice isn’t required. For example, during an emergency or in the event of property abandonment. In South Carolina, a tenant who defaults in the payment of rent and has an unexplained absence from a dwelling unit for a period of 15 days is deemed to have abandoned the rental unit.
This overview of landlord-tenant laws in South Carolina is only meant to be informational. For specific inquiries, please seek professional help from a qualified South Carolina attorney.