Rights, Regulations, & Landlord Tenant Laws - South Carolina 
South Carolina landlords and tenants navigate a complex network of local and state rental laws. These statutes, often referred to as landlord-tenant laws, influence rental owners' and renters’ rights and responsibilities, along with the dynamics of their landlord-tenant relationship. Navigating these intricate laws can be difficult, even for experienced rental property owners and tenants.
To help address this challenge, we've put together this comprehensive guide, addressing crucial rental aspects like rental agreements, evictions, tenant screening, and more. Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, this guide will provide you with a thorough understanding of South Carolina's laws, as outlined in the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act.
Landlords will discover how to safeguard their rental properties and foster positive tenant relationships, while tenants will acquire the essential knowledge necessary to assert their fundamental rights.
South Carolina landlord tenant law fast facts
South Carolina landlord responsibilities and rights
South Carolina residential landlords are provided rights, allowing them to efficiently manage their rental properties protected from most legal issues. Landlords' main rights in South Carolina include:
- Charging and collecting rent payments when due
- Collecting security deposits to cover possible costs like unpaid rent
- Pursuing legal evictions if the tenants violate the lease agreement
In addition to rights, Oklahoma landlords also have a set of responsibilities they are required to uphold that ensure a safe and smooth living arrangement for renters. Their top obligations include:
- Providing tenants with a safe, habitable rental unit free of housing discrimination
- Making repairs within 14 days after getting written notice from a tenant
- Returning the tenant’s security deposit within 30 days after the lease ends
South Carolina tenant responsibilities and rights
Same as landlords, South Carolina tenants have their own set of fundamental rights, protecting them while residing in a rental unit. Some of their main rights include:
- Living in a habitable rental property that meets building and housing codes
- Having repairs made in 14 days after providing the landlord with written notice
- Taking legal action if the landlord commits a lease violation
Renters in South Carolina also have duties to uphold while renting. Generally, these obligations ensure the rental unit is maintained and the landlord goes financially unharmed. South Carolina tenants must:
- Pay rent when due
- Keep the unit in safe and habitable condition
- Keep dwelling and plumbing fixtures in good repair
- Not disturb other renters or neighbors
- Dispose of all garbage in a proper manner
- Use the property and its appliances as intended
South Carolina landlord tenant laws through the rental cycle
South Carolina tenant screening and rental application laws
South Carolina’s rental application and tenant screening laws are fairly straightforward. There is no limit on how much a landlord can charge for a rental application fee and they are not required to be refundable. Additionally, landlords cannot ask any questions that may lead to housing discrimination as outlined in the Federal Fair Housing Act.
Furthermore, Oklahoma does not limit what background checks a landlord can run, but they must first obtain prospective tenants' written consent.
South Carolina lease agreement and lease termination laws
Rental agreements for longer than a year must be in writing and signed by both parties. However, leases less than a year may be either written or oral.
Both oral and written rental agreements are accepted in Oklahoma. However, leases for a year or longer must be in writing. Landlords should always document the rental agreement as it grants important responsibilities to both parties.
The following information should be included in South Carolina leases: the landlord’s name, address and phone number, rent amount and due date, length of the lease period, and a description of the rental. Learn what other information you should include in a lease agreement now.
To terminate a lease, a landlord must provide a 7-day notice for week-to-week leases and a 30-day notice is required for monthly leases. There is no notice period statute for other lease types.
South Carolina tenants can also terminate a rental agreement early for the following legal reasons:
- Uninhabitable unit
- Early termination clause
- Landlord harassment
- Lease violations
South Carolina security deposit laws
South Carolina law permits landlords to collect a security deposit at the start of the lease period to cover unexpected costs. Similar to a few other states, South Carolina does not limit how much a landlord can charge for the security deposit.
At the end of the lease, the landlord must return the tenant’s security deposit within 30 days. They can make deductions from the security deposit for reasons including property damage beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid rent, and costs due to a breach of the lease agreement.
If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period, tenants can sue for three times the amount wrongfully withheld plus attorney fees.
South Carolina rent laws
South Carolina does not have rent control laws and prohibits its cities and states from creating their own laws. Thus, landlords may charge any amount of rent and increase rent as often as they wish, as long as it’s not during the lease period unless the lease specifically allows for it.
Like a few other states, South Carolina does not specify how much notice a landlord must give a tenant before raising rent. The landlord and tenant can agree on a minimum notice period for a rent increase.
If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords are not required to provide a grace period before charging a reasonable late fee.
It’s important to note that South Carolina does not allow renters to withhold rent for any reason. Tenants must be current on rent to exercise their rights.
South Carolina repair and maintenance laws
Residential landlords in South Carolina must make repairs within 14 days after the tenant provides written notice.
If the landlord fails to make repairs within the proper time frame, South Carolina renters can take several legal actions: sue for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make the repairs, or cancel the rental agreement. However, they cannot withhold rent or use the “repair and deduct” remedy.
South Carolina notice of entry laws
In South Carolina, landlords can enter rental units for inspections, maintenance, and property showings. Unless for emergencies, landlords must provide at least 24 hours’ notice before entering.
South Carolina eviction laws
South Carolina law permits landlords to evict tenants for certain legal reasons. Before initiating the eviction procedure, landlords must provide a specific notice period, dependent on the reason for eviction. Here are the legal reasons and associated notice periods in South Carolina:
- Nonpayment of rent: If the tenant doesn’t pay rent on time, the landlord may issue a 5-day notice to pay. If the tenant still does not pay, the landlord can begin the eviction process.
- Lease terms violation: If the tenant commits a lease violation, the landlord may issue a 14-day notice to comply. If the tenant does not correct the issue within 14 days, the landlord can move forward with the eviction. However, as long as the violation does not involve health or safety, the landlord must stop the eviction process if the tenant begins to correct the issue within 14 days but the issue isn’t fully resolved in that time frame.
- Illegal acts: South Carolina does not require a notice period for illegal activity on rental premises. Thus, landlords may start the eviction process immediately.
- No lease/end of lease: If the tenant holds over or stays past the end of the tenancy, the landlord can issue a notice to quit. The notice period depends on the type of tenancy. Week-to-week leases require a 7-day notice to quit and month-to-month leases require a 30-day notice to quit.
South Carolina rental laws continued
In addition to addressing rental topics like evictions and repairs, South Carolina state law also covers housing discrimination, landlord retaliation, and more. Explore a few of these statutes below.
Only federal law protects South Carolina tenants from housing discrimination. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. However, these regulations do not apply to some rentals managed by religious organizations or owner-occupied homes with four or fewer units.
If a landlord violates housing discrimination laws, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the South Carolina Human Rights Commission or the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
It’s illegal for South Carolina landlords to retaliate against tenants for taking legal actions like reporting the landlord to government authorities for health and safety violations. Raised rent past market value, filing for eviction, and refusing to renew the lease are all considered forms of retaliation in the state. If landlords retaliate, tenants may cancel the rental agreement or sue the landlord.
South Carolina landlords must provide tenants with several disclosures at the start of a lease period. The disclosures include:
- Lead-based paint: Landlords who own rental units built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead-based paint.
- Authorized agent: Landlords must provide the names and addresses of all parties involved in owning and managing the property.
Security deposit inequality: Landlords that charge different security deposit amounts for five or more adjoining rental units must disclose the standards for calculating the deposits.
Navigate South Carolina’s landlord tenant laws with confidence
South Carolina's rental laws help establish a transparent framework that establishes the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. These laws primarily aim to promote a fair rental process, but they also foster a healthy relationship between landlords and tenants.
By comprehending and adhering to these laws, landlords can safeguard their property investments and nurture positive relationships with their tenants. Similarly, tenants can confidently assert their legal rights when necessary. Landlords and tenants should continue to educate themselves on the state’s regulations, as the rental landscape is always evolving.
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