South Carolina Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on South Carolina landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act.

SC Landlord Tenant Law:

  • South Carolina Code of Laws Title 27, Chapter 40 - Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Tenant Application

Application Fees

The landlord can ask prospective tenants for application fees to cover the costs of background and credit checks. The fee amount should be reasonable - We recommend charging around $30 per applicant. If the landlord did not run any tenant screening checks, the fees should be refunded.

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

What Landlord Must Disclose

Before entering into a rental agreement, South Carolina landlord tenant law requires the landlord to disclose the following to the tenant:

  • Security Deposit: If the landlord is renting out more than four adjoining units and their security deposits are calculated differently, then the landlord must inform prospective tenants of the different calculation methods for security deposits.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410.(c)]
  • Lead Paint: If the property was built before 1978, the landlord must inform prospective tenants if the property contains lead-based paint. In addition, the landlord has to give them a pamphlet of Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home.  Health and Safety Code Section 17920.10

Required for Tenancy Agreement

South Carolina landlord tenant law S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-420 requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Name and address of person authorized to manage the property
  • Name and address or property owner or owner's agent (person authorized to act on behalf of owner)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to South Carolina landlord tenant law  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-330, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the South Carolina Landlord and Tenant Act
  • permit the landlord to get a confession of judgment against the tenant (on a claim arising from the rental agreement
  • dismiss or limit the landlord's liability when he or she has failed in his or her duties

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Security Deposit

Deductions and Returns

South Carolina landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions under South Carolina landlord tenant law S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410 include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Costs and losses incurred by landlord due to the tenant failing in his or her duties - See Tenant Duties and Responsibilities below  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-510

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 30 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.

If the landlord fails to follow South Carolina landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, the tenant can sue the landlord for three times the amount of security deposit wrongfully withheld plus reasonable attorney fees.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410.(b)

If Property is Sold

After the landlord transfers ownership of the property to another person, the landlord will still be responsible for the tenant's deposit unless he or she does all of the following within a reasonable time:

  1. The landlord transfers all security deposits (and prepaid rents) to the new owner.
  2. The landlord informs the tenant in writing that the property is being sold and the deposits (and prepaid rents) have been transferred to the new owner.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-450

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Rent

South Carolina landlord tenant law requires the tenant to pay rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.
   
By default, rent is payable once the tenancy begins and shall be paid at the beginning of every month. Rent is to be collected at the rental property and shall be pro-rated daily.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-310.(c)

Charleston, South Carolina SC

South Carolina Landlord Tenant Law

Late Rent

There are no South Carolina landlord tenant statutes on imposing charges for late rent payments.

If the landlord wants to impose late rent charges, it has to be specified in the tenancy agreement. While there are no state laws on late fees, landlords cannot overcharge or impose unfair terms. Otherwise the tenant can refuse to pay and challenge the late fees in court.

Most states consider reasonable late fees to be around 3 to 5% of the rent amount. In addition, landlords should wait until rent payment is at least three days late before charging late fees.

Raising Rent

There are no specific South Carolina landlord tenant statutes on raising rent.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • When can the landlord raise the rent?
  • How many days notice does the landlord have to give before raising the rent?
  • How many days notice does the tenant have to give if he or she is moving out due to the rent increase?
  • Maximum amount or percentage of rent increase (optional)

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-440 requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Repairs: Make all repairs to keep the property safe and habitable
  • Common Areas: Keep all common areas clean and safe
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating (as far as conditions allow)
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

South Carolina landlord tenant law S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-510 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Cleanliness: Keep the property clean and safe (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Waste Disposal: Dispose all waste from the property in a clean and safe manner
  • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures in rental unit clean (as far as conditions will allow)
  • Proper Usage: Use all facilities and appliances properly. This includes all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen and common area facilities (e.g. elevators)
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Neighbors: Avoid disturbing neighbors and also disallow others from disturbing neighbors

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain the property (and it affects the tenant's health and safety) OR severely violates the rental agreement, the tenant can give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord 14 days to correct it.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-610

If the problem is corrected within 14 days (of the landlord receiving this notice), then the tenancy shall continue.

If the problem isn't corrected within 14 days, the tenancy shall terminate and the tenant can move out. In this case, the landlord has to return all security deposits and prepaid rents (after deductions) to the tenant.

In addition, the tenant can also sue the landlord for actual damages and obtain a court order to make the landlord comply with the rental agreement and South Carolina landlord tenant law.

If Landlord Fails to Provide Essential Services

If the landlord fails to provide an essential service (such as heat, water, electricity, plumbing or sanitation), the tenant may give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and EITHER

  1. obtain the essential service and deduct the cost from rent OR
  2. sue the landlord for damages plus attorney fees (based on the property's decline in rental value). [S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-630]

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to South Carolina landlord tenant law, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons [S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530.(a)]:

  • Inspecting property
  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services and utilities
  • Showing property to prospective buyers, lenders, tenants, workmen or contractors

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least 24 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent and during reasonable hours. [S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530.(c)]

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to South Carolina landlord tenant law, the landlord or landlord's agent may enter the property without permission in the following situations [S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530.(b)]:

  • Emergencies such as smoke, fire, flooding or explosion. Impending weather conditions that pose a danger to the property are also considered as emergencies
  • Court order granting landlord access to the property
  • Tenant has abandoned or surrendered the property [S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530.(d)(4)]

If Tenant Refuses Landlord's Valid Request to Enter Property

The tenant cannot deny access if the landlord has a valid reason to enter the property. Otherwise the landlord can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that requires the tenant to let the landlord in OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement.

In addition, the landlord can also sue the tenant for actual damages and attorney fees. [S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-780.(a)]

If Landlord Enters Property Illegally

The landlord must have a valid reason and obtain the tenant's permission (whenever required) to enter the property. If the landlord fails to do so or harasses the tenant, the tenant can EITHER

  1. obtain a court order that stops the landlord from entering the property illegally or harassing the tenant OR
  2. terminate the lease agreement.

In addition, the tenant can also sue the landlord for actual damages and attorney fees. [S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-780.(b)]

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Subletting

There are no specific South Carolina landlord tenant laws on subletting.

We recommend that the landlord and tenant work out the following details and include them in the rental agreement:

  • Is the tenant allowed to sublet the property? If yes, is the landlord's written consent required before the tenant can sublet?
  • Is the landlord allowed to screen and reject every prospective subtenant?
  • Can the landlord ask for additional rent and security deposit if the tenant sublets?

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Rapid City, South Dakota SD

Rapid City, South Dakota SD

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, South Carolina landlord tenant law S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-770 requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance:

Week to week tenancy

7 days

Month to month tenancy

30 days

TENANT

If you are the tenant, the following are the minimum number of days for giving your landlord a notice to quit:

Landlord failed to maintain property

14 days

Landlord violated tenancy agreement

14 days

Landlord entered property illegally

See Property Access

Property damage due to fire, disaster or unavoidable accident

Immediate

Property Damage Due to Fire, Disaster or Unavoidable Accident

If the property is badly damaged by fire, disaster or unavoidable accident (that is no fault of the tenant or related people), the tenant can immediately move out and stop paying rent. The tenancy shall terminate once the tenant moves out. The tenant must inform the landlord that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy within seven days of moving out.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-650

After the tenant moves out, the landlord must return the security deposit (after any deductions) to the tenant. The tenant won't have to pay rent starting from the date of the fire or disaster, so the landlord must also return any prepaid rent to the tenant.

If only part of the property is damaged, the tenant should move out of the damaged area. The rent amount will be lowered based on how much of the property is still livable.

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Eviction

According to South Carolina landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

5 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

14 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a five day written notice to quit. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and that the rental agreement shall be terminated if rent isn't paid within five days. If the rent is paid within five days, then tenancy shall continue.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-710.(B)

The landlord won't have to give this written notice to quit if the he or she has given one such notice to the tenant before OR the rental agreement contains the following text:

"IF YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR RENT ON TIME

This is your notice. If you do not pay your rent within five days of the due date, the landlord can start to have you evicted. You will get no other notice as long as you live in this rental unit."

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement in a *significant manner, the landlord can send the tenant a written 10 day notice to terminate the tenancy. *Significant manner refers to situations that affects human health and safety.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-710.(a)

Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by South Carolina landlord tenant law) in a significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a 14 day written notice to terminate the tenancy.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-720

This written notice has to state what is the tenant's violation or failure in duty. If the tenant corrects the problem within 14 days, then the tenancy shall continue.

Unlawful Eviction

According to South Carolina landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-660

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with unlawful methods or shuts off utilities, the tenant can EITHER

  1. regain possession of the property OR
  2. terminate the tenancy agreement

In addition, the tenant may also sue the landlord for three month's rent OR two times actual damages (whichever is higher) plus attorney fees.

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

According to South Carolina landlord tenant law, the tenant has abandoned the property when one of the following conditions are met:

  1. Tenant is late in paying rent AND has been absent from the property for 15 or more days without notice.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-730.(a)
  2. Tenant has intentionally terminated utilities AND is late in paying rent AND is absent from the property without notice.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-730.(b)

Once the property is abandoned, the landlord may enter it and re-rent it.

As long as the landlord makes a proper effort to re-rent the property at a fair rate, the abandoning tenant will be responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends. If a new tenant is moving in before the tenancy ends, then the abandoning tenant can stop paying rent once the new tenant moves in.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-730.(c)

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If the tenant's belongings are left on the property AFTER lease termination or abandonment, the landlord can dump, sell or give the belongings away if they are worth $500 or less.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-730.(d)

If the belongings are worth more than $500, the landlord must file a formal ejection application in court to remove them.  S.C. Code Ann. § 27-37-10 to 27-37-150

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Resources

South Carolina Landlord Tenant Law: South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

Eviction: South Carolina Bar - Get Legal Help for Eviction

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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