State Rules and Regulations for South Carolina Rental Properties and Landlords
According to South Carolina law (South Carolina Code Chapter 40) if rent is paid in a timely manner in exchange for inhabiting property, a landlord-tenant relationship is established and tenants have rights such as the right to habitable premises and the right to take some forms of alternative action.
Landlords have the right to receive rental payments and the right to pursue evictions following lease violations, among other rights.
South Carolina Official Rules and Regulations
- S.C. Code Ann. §§ 27-40 – Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
South Carolina Security Deposit Limit and Return
- 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.
- Failure to Comply: If the landlord fails to comply with § 27-40-410(a), the tenant may recover the property and money in an amount equal to three times the amount wrongfully withheld and reasonable attorney’s fees (§ 27-40-410(b)).
Lease, Rent & Fees Under South Carolina Law
- Rent Is Due: Rent is payable without demand or notice at the time and place agreed upon by the parties. Unless otherwise noted in writing, rent is due at the beginning of the month, and payable at the dwelling unit (§ 27-40-310(c)).
- Rent Increase Notice: No statute.
- Rent Grace Period: No statute.
- Late Fees: No statute, but late fees can be considered “rent” for the purposes of collections (§ 27-40-210 (11)).
- Prepaid Rent: No statute.
- Application Fees: No statute.
- Returned Check Fees: $30 (§ 34-11-70).
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes (§ 27-40-630(a)(1)) and (§ 27-40-640).
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: No (§ 27-40-630(c)).
- Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney Fees: Yes (§ 27-40-770(c) and § 27-40-750).
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (§ 27-40-730(c)).
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.
Notices and Entry Under South Carolina Law
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is needed as the lease simply expires. I recommend giving 60 days notice anyway.
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Month-to-Month Lease: 30 days (§ 27-40-770(b)).
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Week-to-Week Lease: 7 days (§ 27-40-770(a)).
- Notice of Date/Time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute.
- Notice of Termination of All Other Leases for Nonpayment:
- A 5 day notice can be written conspicuously in the lease so that termination can occur 5 days after the rent is not paid without additional notice. Required verbiage for the lease provision can be found in § 27-40-710(b).
- If no such notice is written in the lease, then 5 days written notice is required before lease termination and filing for eviction.
- Access by the Landlord: Tenants shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors. (§ 27-40-530(a))
- Termination for Lease Violation: 14 days (§ 27-40-710(a))
- Required Notice before Entry: 24 hours notice and entry only at reasonable times (§ 27-40-530(c))
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (§ 27-40-530(a)).
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Showings: Yes (§ 27-40-530(a)).
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (§ 27-40-530(b)(1)).
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute.
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: 24 hours (§ 27-40-530(b)(2)).
- Lockouts Allowed: No (§ 27-40-760).
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (§ 27-40-760).
- Consequence of Self-Help Eviction: The tenant may recover possession or terminate the rental agreement and, in either case, recover an amount equal to three months’ periodic rent or twice the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater, and reasonable attorney’s fees. (§ 27-40-760)
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.
- Business License Required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
State Regulatory Bodies & Agencies
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – South Carolina
- SC Housing (South Carolina’s housing finance authority)
- South Carolina Insurance Division
- South Carolina Consumer Guide to Homeowner and Tenant Insurance (PDF)
- South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs
- South Carolina Real Estate Commission
- Charleston County Housing and Redevelopment Authority
- Columbia Housing Authority
- Greenville Housing Authority
- South Carolina Regional Housing Authority No. 1
- South Carolina Regional Housing Authority No. 3
- Spartanburg Housing Authority
Realtor, Landlord, and Tenant Organizations
- South Carolina Association of REALTORS®
- Central Carolina REALTORS® Association
- Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS®
- Greater Greenville Association of REALTORS®
- Local Boards of REALTORS®
- Piedmont Regional Association of REALTORS®
- Apartment Association of Greater Columbia
- Charleston Apartment Association
- Upper State Apartment Association
- Upstate Carolina Real Estate Investment Association
- Affordable Housing Coalition of South Carolina
- South Carolina Community Loan Fund