South Carolina Eviction Process

South Carolina Eviction Process

Last Updated: January 10, 2024 by Phil Ahn

Evicting a tenant in South Carolina can take around 4 to 9 weeks depending on the eviction type and how quickly the summons is served on the tenant. If tenants request a jury trial, the process can take longer.

Grounds for an Eviction in South Carolina

In South Carolina, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant without cause. Legal grounds to evict include:

  • Not paying rent on time
  • Staying after the lease ends
  • Violating lease terms

Depending on the grounds for eviction, the landlord must give proper notice and provide the tenant a chance to cure the violation.

Grounds Notice Period Curable?
Nonpayment of Rent 5 Days Maybe
End of Lease or No Lease 30 Days No
Lease Violation 14 Days Maybe

Nonpayment of Rent

In South Carolina, a landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time. To do so, they must first give 5 days’ notice to pay rent or vacate the premises. If the tenant does neither after that time, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

note

No notice is required if the following language is bold and conspicuous in the lease: “If you do not pay your rent on time, this is the notice. If rent is not paid within 5 days, the landlord can begin the eviction process”.

If this language is in the written rental agreement and rent isn’t paid within 5 days of the due date, the landlord can begin the eviction process without notice.

Unless the lease states otherwise, rent is due at the beginning of each month and is considered late in South Carolina the day immediately after its due date. South Carolina landlords are not required to give tenants a rent payment grace period. However, if the lease or rental agreement allows for one, then the landlord must honor it.

example

If rent is due on March 1st, it will be considered late starting on March 2nd, unless the lease specifically states there is a grace period.

Once rent is considered late, the landlord can begin the eviction process by serving the tenant with proper notice.

End of Lease or No Lease

In South Carolina, a landlord can evict a tenant who does not have a lease (“tenant at will”) or has a lease that has terminated and continues to remain on the premises (“holdover tenant”). To do so, they must first terminate the tenancy by giving a proper 30-days’ notice to move out.

Once the tenancy ends, if the tenant remains on the property, the landlord can move forward and file an eviction lawsuit.

Lease Violations

In South Carolina, a landlord can evict a tenant for violating the terms of their lease or not upholding their responsibilities under South Carolina landlord-tenant law. To do so, a landlord must provide 14 days’ notice to begin correcting the issue or move out.

If the tenant begins to make corrections but cannot complete the remedy within the 14-day notice period, the landlord must allow the tenant to make the corrections within a “reasonable” amount of time. The landlord shall not file an eviction lawsuit under the above mentioned circumstances.

Examples of lease violations include:

  • Having an unauthorized pet, guest or vehicle
  • Parking in an unauthorized area
  • Not maintaining a certain level of cleanliness
  • Health violations (i.e., allowing trash to pile up)
  • Safety violations (i.e., damaging the electrical wiring)

For health and safety violations that create an emergency situation, the tenant must fix them as quickly as possible.

The tenant has 14 days to begin fixing the issue and must complete the correction in a “reasonable” amount of time after notice was given. If no action was made to fix the issue, the landlord may proceed with the eviction process.

Illegal Evictions in South Carolina

In South Carolina, there are a few different types of evictions that are illegal. If found liable, the landlord could be required to pay the tenant an amount equal to 3 months’ periodic rent or twice the actual damages sustained, whichever is greater, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees.

“Self-Help” Evictions

A landlord is not allowed to forcibly remove a tenant by:

  • Changing the locks
  • Shutting off utilities
  • Removing tenant belongings

A tenant can only be legally removed with a court order obtained through the formal eviction process.

Retaliatory Evictions

It is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant in response to exercising a legally protected right. These rights include:

  • Complaining about a material health or safety issue to the landlord or governmental agency.
  • Filing a complaint to a government authority.

Read More

Eviction notice posted on iPropertyManagement.com

In South Carolina, all evictions follow the same process:

  1. Landlord serves tenant written notice of violations
  2. Landlord files complaint and serves tenant
  3. Court holds a hearing and issues a judgment
  4. Writ of ejectment is issued
  5. Possession of property is returned to the landlord

Step 1: Landlord Serves Notice to Tenant

A landlord can begin the eviction process in South Carolina by serving the tenant with written notice. The notice must be delivered by one of the following methods:

  1. Giving it to the tenant in person
  2. Mailing the notice to the tenant via registered or certified mail
    tip

    Landlords should always keep the original signed notice and declaration of service as proof of proper service if the case proceeds to court.

    5-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

    If a tenant is late on paying rent (full or partial) in South Carolina, the landlord can serve them a 5-Day Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice gives the tenant 5 days to pay the entire remaining balance or vacate the premises.

    30-Day Notice to Quit

    For a tenant with no lease or a month-to-month lease in South Carolina, the landlord must serve them a 30-Day Notice to Quit to end the tenancy. This eviction notice allows the tenant 30 days to move out.

    For tenants that don’t pay monthly, the amount of notice differs:

    Rent Payment Frequency Notice Amount
    Week-to-Week 7 Days
    Month-to-Month 30 Days

    14-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate

    In South Carolina, if a tenant commits a minor violation of the terms of their lease or legal responsibilities as a tenant, the landlord can serve them a 14-Day Notice to Cure or Vacate. This eviction notice gives the tenant 14 days to fix the issue or move out.

    Eviction Complaint Filed on iPropertyManagement.com

    Step 2: Landlord Files Petition with Court

    As the next step in the eviction process, South Carolina landlords must apply for an Order to Show Cause in the appropriate court.

    A landlord must file an ejectment action with the court that provides details on why the tenant should be evicted. In Charleston County, this costs $40 in filing fees and an additional $10 for a writ of ejectment.

    The summons and Order to Show Cause may be served on the tenant by the sheriff, deputy sheriff, magistrate’s constable, or anyone over the age of 18 who is not part of the eviction case using one of the following methods:

    1. Giving a copy to the tenant in person
    2. Leaving a copy with someone who resides at the tenant’s rental unit
    3. Mailing via certified mail as long as a return receipt is requested
    4. Using a commercial delivery service to deliver the summons and order to the tenant

    South Carolina law doesn’t address how much time a landlord has to serve the tenant with the order prior to the hearing, or how quickly the summons and order must be served after the landlord files with the court.

    However, if there is no proof of service that the tenant actually received a copy of the order after 2 months, the eviction case may be dismissed.

    Eviction Court Hearing on iPropertyManagement.com

    Step 3: Court Holds Hearing and Issues Judgment

    The tenant must respond to the Order to Show Cause within 10 days after the summons was served on the tenant.

    This is the tenant’s opportunity to contest the eviction and explain why they should be allowed to remain in the rental unit. In some court locations, this may be called “making an appearance.” If the tenant fails to respond or make an appearance within that timeframe, the judge will rule in favor of the landlord and the tenant will be evicted.

    In some counties, tenants must request a hearing within 10 days of receiving the Order to the Show Cause or the court may rule in the landlord’s favor. In other locations, the hearing is set when the landlord applies for the order.

    Either the landlord or tenant can request a jury trial, which will add more time to the process. If the magistrate rules in favor of the landlord, a writ of ejectment will be issued and the eviction process will proceed.

    Eviction Writ of Ejectment on iPropertyManagement.com

    Step 4: Writ of Ejectment Is Issued

    The writ of ejectment is the tenant’s final notice to leave the rental unit, and gives them the opportunity to remove their belongings before the deputy sheriff or constable returns to the property. The deputy sheriff is the only one authorized to enter the premises by force and must use the least destructive way to enter the premises.

    If the court has ruled in the landlord’s favor, a magistrate will issue a writ of ejectment within 5 days of their judgment in favor of the landlord.

    Eviction property possession returned on iPropertyManagement.com

    Step 5: Possession of Property is Returned

    The tenant will have 24 hours after the writ of ejectment is posted or given to the tenant to move out of the rental unit.

    If the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit by the end of the notice period, the sheriff will forcibly remove them from the rental property.

    South Carolina Eviction Process Timeline

    In South Carolina, an eviction can be completed in 4 to 9 weeks but can take longer depending on the reason for eviction, whether the eviction is contested, which days courts are (or aren’t) in session and other various possible delays.

    Below are the parts of the South Carolina eviction process outside the control of landlords for cases that go uncontested.

    Step Estimated Time
    Initial Notice Period 5-30 Calendar Days
    Court Issuing Rule to Show Cause 3-21 Business Days
    Tenant Response Period 10 Business Days
    Court Ruling 10 Business Days
    Court Serving Writ of Possession 5 Business Days
    Final Notice Period 24 Hours

    Flowchart of South Carolina Eviction Process

    South Carolina Eviction Process Flowchart on iPropertyManagement.com

    South Carolina Eviction Court Fees

    The cost of an eviction in South Carolina for all filing, court, and service fees can vary based on service fees. For cases filed in Magistrate Court, the average cost is $115.

    Fee Magistrate
    Initial Court Filing $80
    Writ of Ejectment Issuance $10
    Writ of Ejectment Service ~$25
    Notice of Appeal Filing (Optional) $150

    Read more

    Sources