Pursuant to South Carolina law (South Carolina Code Chapter 40), if rent is collected and paid in a timely manner in exchange for living on a property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established. Landlords have the right to receive rental payments and the right to pursue evictions following lease violations.
Tenants have rights to a safe and habitable premises and the right to take some forms of alternative action.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in South Carolina
South Carolina landlords are required to provide a habitable property and make requested repairs in a timely manner (14 days). If they do not, then South Carolina tenants reserve the right to obtain a new utility service and deduct any associated costs from future rent payments.
Below is a list of common items that South Carolina landlords are or aren’t responsible for providing and maintaining.
|Electricity and wiring||Yes|
|Reliable gas fixtures||Yes|
|Bed bugs||Implied in warranty of habitability|
Landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation for reporting the violation of one or more of these responsibilities to South Carolina housing authorities.
Tenant Responsibilities in South Carolina
Aside from paying rent in a timely manner, tenant in South Carolina must:
- Keep their unit in a safe and habitable condition
- Keeping the unit clean and sanitary, including removing garbage
- Keep dwelling and fixtures in working order
- Not unnecessarily disturb neighbors or other tenants
Evictions in South Carolina
South Carolina landlords have relatively broad authority to evict tenants. The most common reasons for eviction include:
- Failure to pay rent – If a tenant does not pay rent, South Carolina landlords can issue a 5 Day Notice to Pay or Quit. If they do not pay, then the landlord can begin eviction. However, South Carolina law allows landlords to eliminate this obligation.
- Violation of lease terms – if a violation of the lease has occurred, landlords can issue a 14-day Notice to Cure. If the tenant does not address the issue in the specified 14 days, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings.
- Illegal acts – South Carolina landlords are allowed to pursue immediate eviction if they have evidence of illegal activity on the premises. Landlords are not required to give tenants a timeframe to remedy the behavior.
At-will tenants are entitled to receive a 7-day or 30-day notice depending if they pay rent on a weekly or monthly basis.
South Carolina landlords cannot evict tenants as a form of retaliation or for discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in South Carolina
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – N/A.
- Time Limit for Return – 30 days.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a South Carolina landlord wrongfully withholds a security deposit, they may have to pay up to 3 times the amount of the deposit.
- Allowable Deductions – Landlords can make deductions to offset the general upkeep of the unit and for damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Lease Termination in South Carolina
Landlords or tenants can terminate a lease with the following amount of notice:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
Landlords and tenants are not required to give notice to terminate a lease that has a fixed end-date.
Early termination. A lease in South Carolina can be legally broken for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause
- Uninhabitable unit
- Landlord harassment
- Lease term violations
Rent Increases & Related Fees in South Carolina
- Rent control. South Carolina law prohibits any kind of policy that amounts to rent control. Thus, landlords can set rental prices as high as they want.
- Rent increases. Under South Carolina law, landlords are not obligated to give tenants notice before increasing rent.
- Rent-related fees. There are no statutes governing how much a South Carolina can charge for late fees. However, the stat limits returned check fees to $30.
Housing Discrimination in South Carolina
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prevents South Carolina landlords from discriminating in housing against a member of a protected class. These rules do not apply to owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or homes operated by religious organizations. South Carolina does not offer extra protections to any groups not outlined in the Fair Housing Act.
Discriminatory acts & penalties. The following acts may be interpreted as discriminatory when directed against a member of a protected group:
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations
- Refusing to rent or sell on a bona fide offer
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Advertising that encourages or discourages certain groups of people from applying
- Coercing tenants to live in a certain neighborhood (steering)
Housing discrimination complaints in South Carolina are handled by the South Carolina Human Rights Commission, but it is unclear exactly how one is supposed to file a claim on their website. Alternatively, one can file a complaint with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in South Carolina
Landlord Entry in South Carolina
South Carolina landlords are, in general, required to give at least 24 hours of notice before entering an inhabited property. Landlords and tenants can create their own entry notice agreement in the lease agreement. Landlords are allowed to enter without permission in emergencies.
Small Claims Court in South Carolina
Landlords and tenants can take cases involving rent to South Carolina’s small claims court. South Carolina courts will see any case involving values up to $7,500. The statute of limitations on written or oral contracts is only 5 years.
Mandatory Disclosures in South Carolina
South Carolina landlords are only required to make two disclosures to tenants:
- Lead paint. For houses built prior to 1978, landlords must disclose information about the concentrations of lead paint.
- Authorized people. Landlords must also provide the names and addresses of all people who are involved in owning and managing the property.
Changing the Locks in South Carolina
South Carolina law prohibits tenants from changing the locks without first getting permission for landlords. However, landlords are also prohibited from changing the locks without notifying tenants. Therefore, if any party wishes to change the locks, they must get permission from the other first.
South Carolina Landlord-Tenant Resources
In addition, please check local county and municipality laws for additional rules and protection for both landlords and tenants. To learn more, please refer to the below digital resources.