South Carolina
Habitability Laws

QUICK FACTS
  • Landlord Responsibilities. All plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning must be kept in good repair (read more).
  • Making Repairs. Landlords are required to make and pay for repairs for items under their responsibility. They must do so within 14 days after receiving a written request from tenants (read more).
  • Tenant Options. If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, tenant usually can’t withhold rent or repair and deduct, but they can report the issue to a public official or file a lawsuit (read more).
  • Retaliation. If a landlord is reported to a local city or county inspector for housing code violations, it is illegal for a landlord to retaliate, such as by threatening eviction (read more).

The implied warranty of habitability in South Carolina does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are & aren’t included.

Dwelling Type Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?
Single family Yes
Multi-family Yes
Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs No
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
Hotels/Motels No

Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.

Landlord Responsibilities

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

Making Repairs

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:
    • The landlord is performing regularly scheduled, and previously agreed to, maintenance.
    • It’s an emergency.

Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made

If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.

  1. Withhold rent – South Carolina landlord tenant law does not permit tenants to withhold rent in response to habitability issues.
  2. Repair and deduct – Tenants do not have the right to pay for any necessary utilities themselves and deduct this amount from the monthly rent until the landlord begins paying for utilities again.
  3. 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
    and ask the court to order the landlord to make repairs
  4. 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, landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against tenants for:

  • complaining to the landlord regarding the deposit,
  • complaining to a government agency,
  • or exercising a legal right.

Sources