Landlords should familiarize themselves with the statewide rules and procedures that govern evictions in the state of South Carolina and understand their responsibilities.
Quick Facts for South Carolina
- Grounds for Eviction: Failure to pay rent, end of the lease, lease term violations, committing illegal acts on property
- Notice Required for Nonpayment of Rent: 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent
- Notice Required for Eviction without Cause: 7- & 30-Day Notice to Quit for weekly and monthly tenants, respectively; no notice required for fixed-term tenants, but landlord must wait for end of term
- Notice Required for Lease Violations: 14-Day Notice to Cure
- Fastest a Landlord Can Evict for Illegal Acts: Immediately, via Unconditional Notice to Quit
- Duration for Tenant to Appeal Eviction Ruling: Not specified, but tenant must appear at court hearing to contest eviction
How Long Does it Take to Evict a Tenant in South Carolina?
As an eviction process is a multi-step legal process, it is difficult to estimate the amount of time it will take. In the state of South Carolina, a landlord is generally required to begin the eviction process by providing his/her tenant with a written notice. The amount of time this notice provides the tenant to remedy the issue at had or vacate the premises will vary depending upon the issue at hand. In extreme cases the landlord may provide an Unconditional Notice to Quit and file an Eviction Action with the court immediately. However, there will generally be a 5-30 day period between the time the notice is provided and when the landlord may file an Eviction Action with the court.
Ultimately, the amount of time an eviction will take in the state of South Carolina may vary largely depending upon the reason the eviction is being sought and the tenant’s willingness to fight the eviction process.
Reasons for Eviction in South Carolina
The state of South Carolina has established a number of reasons for which a landlord may seek to evict a tenant. These reasons include:
- Failure to pay rent
- End of the lease
- Violation of the terms of the lease agreement
- Participating in illegal activity on the rental property
Eviction for Failure to Pay Rent
Tenants in the state of South Carolina should be aware that a landlord may include a statement within the written lease that removes the requirement that a written notice be sent to inform the tenant of his/her need to pay the outstanding rent within five days to avoid the termination of the lease agreement. Otherwise, the state requires that the landlord provide his/her tenant with a written 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent (S.C.C.A. 27-40-710(B) & 27-37-10(B)). Whether or not a written notice is required, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process if the tenant fails to pay all outstanding rent within five days of the due date by filing an Eviction Action with the court.
Eviction if Rent has Been Paid
In the state of South Carolina a landlord may seek to evict an “at-will” tenant, a tenant who is renting without benefit of a written lease, without cause. However, to do this, the landlord must wait until the end of the term of the rental period. When dealing with a tenant who is renting for a fixed-term, the landlord must wait until the end of the term before he may file an Eviction Action with the court. However, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process as soon as the term is ended without providing a written notice.
If the landlord is renting to an “at-will” tenant on an ongoing basis, he/she is required to provide written notice of his/her intention to reclaim the property before an Eviction Action may be filed with the court. For a tenant renting on a week-to week basis, the landlord is required to provide a written 7-Day Notice to Quit(S.C.C.A. 27-40-770(A)). The landlord is required to provide a written 30-Day Notice to Quit (S.C.C.A. 27-40-770(B)) when seeking to evict a month-to-month “at-will” tenant. If the tenant fails to vacate the property within the amount of time provided in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing an Eviction Action with the court.
Evicting a Tenant For Violation of Rental Agreement/Lease
If a tenant has violated the terms of the rental agreement or written lease, the landlord is generally required to provide a 14-Day Notice to Cure (S.C.C.A. 27-40-710(A)). If the tenant fails to remedy the situation identified in the 14-Day Notice to Cure, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing an Eviction Action with the court.
Evicting a Tenant for Illegal Behavior
When a South Carolina tenant participates in an illegal activity on a rental property, the landlord is allowed to provide the tenant with an Unconditional Notice to Quit (S.C.C.A 27-40-710(B)). This notice does not provide the tenant with an opportunity to remedy the situation, but will terminate the rental agreement immediately. The landlord may also file an Eviction Action with the court immediately.
How Does a Landlord Evict a Tenant in South Carolina When There is no Lease?
In the state of South Carolina, a landlord may evict an “at-will” tenant without cause. To do this he/she must either provide the appropriate Notice to Quit or if dealing with a tenant who is renting for a fixed-term, must wait until the end of the term before filing an Eviction Action with the court. “At-will” tenants must be provided with a 7-Day Notice to Quit if they are renting on a weekly basis and a 30-Day Notice to Quit if they are renting on a month-to-month basis. It the tenant fails to vacate the property at the end of the fixed-term or the end of the amount of time allowed in the notice, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process by filing an Eviction Action with the court.
When Can a Tenant Not Be Evicted in South Carolina?
In the state of South Carolina, it is illegal for a landlord to seek to evict a tenant in retaliation for filing a complaint against the landlord with the appropriate government agency regarding housing codes, health, or safety of the rental property. It is also illegal for the landlord to seek to evict a tenant based on his/her gender, race, nation of origin, familial status, religion, or disability status.
Once the Rental Agreement has Ended
The landlord may proceed with the eviction process. To do this, he/she will file an affidavit with the court. The court will then issue an Order to Show Cause with the date and time for the court hearing. A copy of both the complaint and the Order to Show Cause will be provided to the tenant. If the tenant wishes to fight the eviction process, he/she will need to appear at the court hearing. Both sides will be provided with time to give evidence at the hearing.
Once Eviction Occurs
If the court rules in favor of the landlord, the tenant may have to pay the landlord’s court and attorney fees. It should be noted that if a tenant refuses to vacate a rental property at the end of a rental agreement, the landlord may obtain up to three months’ worth of rent or up to two times the cost of damages. The landlord is allowed to take the highest of these two amounts and may also recur the costs of his/her court and all reasonable attorney fees.
Make sure to read the South Carolina Code of Laws §§ 27-37-10 to 160 and South Carolina’s Landlord and Tenant Act before starting the eviction process. Landlords should make sure to educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities on this topic.