South Carolina HOA Laws

South Carolina HOA Laws

Last Updated: June 16, 2023 by Corrin Swintosky

Many planned communities are managed by a homeowners association (HOA) in South Carolina. The laws governing HOAs are established by various local, state, and federal regulations, in addition to each individual HOA’s governing documents.

Who Regulates HOAs in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, HOAs are regulated by the South Carolina Homeowners Association Act found in Title 27 Chapter 30. This act rules over any planned community or horizontal property regime where a declaration requires people to pay separate expenses related to common elements.

While every HOA has its own individualized structure, the governing documents usually include: Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, Conditions and Restrictions, Declaration of Covenants, and other rules.

HOAs in South Carolina may be subject to applicable federal laws such as:

HOAs may be subject to certain state laws such as:

How to Find HOA Regulations in South Carolina

HOA governing documents in South Carolina are public records. HOAs are required to record their governing documents with the clerk of court, Register of Mesne Conveyance (RMC), or the register of deeds in the county where the HOA property is located.

To obtain these documents, visit the local clerk of court or register of deeds office. Some counties may provide record services online.

HOA Powers in South Carolina

In South Carolina, HOAs have the power to:

  • Collect payments for common assessments
  • Collect charges for maintenance of common areas
  • Levy reasonable fines

Furthermore, HOA governing documents can grant additional powers such as restrictions on exterior paint colors, fencing, membership, and parking requirements.

Can an HOA Impose Fines on a Homeowner in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, HOAs can impose fines on a homeowner for common assessments. The HOA’s governing documents will likely note the amount and types of fees in the HOA as well as notice requirements for such fees.

An HOA cannot fine a homeowner for (or generally prohibit) displaying the American flag consistent with federal law and installing satellite dishes and antennas.

Can an HOA Take a Homeowner’s House in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, there is no state provision ruling if an HOA can or cannot take a homeowner’s house. An HOA can put a lien on a homeowner’s property for late payment of assessments. The governing documents of an HOA determine the rights and process for foreclosure from the lien.

An HOA cannot evict a homeowner. However, if the homeowner is leasing a tenant, the HOA may be able to evict the tenant. For example, an HOA may be able to evict a tenant if the lease was not properly authorized by the HOA. In addition, the HOA may have other powers or restrictions regarding rental properties in its governing documents.

Can an HOA Enter a Homeowner’s Property in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, there is no provision in the law that allows an HOA to enter a homeowner’s property. However, most governing documents contain a provision allowing an HOA to enter the homeowner’s house as reasonably necessary to maintain the units, common elements, or shared utilities.

Units are private spaces only intended for the property owner’s use but have certain spaces that require maintenance by the HOA, such as balconies. Common elements are the shared spaces around the units owned by the HOA, such as elevators. Shared utilities may include water or trash removal directly provided by the HOA.

Before entering a property, except in the case of an emergency, an HOA should give prior notice to the homeowner. Typically, an HOA will give 1-2 weeks’ notice, but notice requirements are determined by the governing documents.

Where Do Homeowners File Complaints Against Their HOA in South Carolina?

Where to file a complaint against an HOA in South Carolina depends on the type of complaint.

For complaints concerning HOA fees, a homeowner can file a complaint with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, homeowners may also file in state or federal court within one year of the violation date.

For complaints of housing discrimination, they can file a complaint with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, the U.S. Department of Urban Housing, or file a private lawsuit in South Carolina state or federal court.

Alternatively, a homeowner with any other complaints can bring a claim in state court in the appropriate county.

Joining and Leaving an HOA in South Carolina

In South Carolina, there is no state provision on joining or leaving an HOA. These processes are determined by the HOA’s governing documents. Documents explaining the HOA and its membership rules should be presented at the closing for a new owner’s home purchase.

Typically, there are two types of HOAs that regulate joining and leaving clauses:

  • Mandatory HOAs. When a person buys a home, they automatically become a member required to abide by any HOA rules listed in the governing documents. This usually includes that a homeowner is not able to leave the HOA freely.
  • Voluntary HOAs. When a person buys a home, membership is a choice for each homeowner. If they choose to become a member, they may leave at any time by stopping their payments with the HOA.

To leave a mandatory HOA, a homeowner can sell their house or try to petition the court to have their home removed. However, there is no guarantee the petition will be granted.

How to Dissolve an HOA in South Carolina

The dissolution process of an HOA in South Carolina may be found in the HOA’s governing documents. If it is not, dissolution must be approved by at least ⅔ of HOA members or the majority of the voting power, whichever is less.

If approved, the board should develop a summary or plan of dissolution to distribute the HOA’s assets and debts. A notice of intent must be given to the South Carolina Attorney General with a copy of the plan for dissolution before any distribution.

Twenty days after the HOA provided the South Carolina Attorney General notice or received written consent to the dissolution can the HOA file the Articles of Dissolution with the South Carolina Secretary of State. The HOA is considered dissolved upon filing.