In South Carolina, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by SC Code § 27-40-440. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
Applicable Dwelling Types in South Carolina
The implied warranty of habitability in South Carolina does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|RV parks||Not addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Only if person in mobile home is renter, not owner|
|Condos||Only if person in condo is renter, not owner|
Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
Landlord Responsibilities in South Carolina
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in South Carolina, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. Check your local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Not addressed|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Not addressed|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Yes|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Yes|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Yes|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Not addressed|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Multi-family units|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Not addressed|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Not addressed|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Not addressed|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Not addressed|
|Provide a mailbox.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||No|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Not addressed|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||No|
Landlords must keep all common areas in a safe condition and for units that have four or more dwelling units, the common areas must be kept in a clean condition. Landlords are obligated to comply with all building and housing codes that materially affect the health and safety of tenants. If a tenant and landlord agree, in writing, the tenant may perform certain repairs and maintenance tasks.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in South Carolina
Landlords are required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant.
- Sending Notice – If a tenant request repairs, they must put their request in writing to the landlord. The landlord will then have 14 days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice.
- Landlord Access – Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants 24 hours’ notice unless:
- It’s an emergency.
- The landlord is performing regularly scheduled, and previously agreed to, maintenance.
Unless it is an emergency, a landlord should enter the property between the hours of 9am and 6pm if it’s for maintenance services (such as pest treatment) or between the hours of 8am and 8pm for services requested by the tenant.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in South Carolina
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – South Carolina landlord tenant law does not permit tenants to withhold rent in response to habitability issues.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants do not have the right to use the repair and deduct method. Tenants may only deduct rent to obtain essential services. The tenant may obtain reasonable amounts of essential services during the landlord’s noncompliance.
- Lawsuit – Tenants do have the right to take legal action for damages resulting from habitability issues. Tenants can take their landlord to Magistrate’s Court or Circuit Court and ask the court to order the landlord to make repairs
- Reporting to Public Officials – Landlords can be reported on a city or county level to housing inspectors if they are found to be in violation of any local housing codes.
Landlord Retaliation in South Carolina
It is illegal for South Carolina landlords to increase rent to an amount in excess of fair-market value or decrease essential services if a tenant:
- Complains to a government agency of a housing or building violation that materially affects health and safety.
- Exercises a legal right.