Here’s a primer on what you should know about your rights as a tenant in a South Carolina state rental home
The South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act governs the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants in South Carolina, including aspects like security deposits, habitability, and evictions. This law aims to provide a balanced framework that protects the interests of both parties, addressing issues like lease agreements, property maintenance, and dispute resolution.
South Carolina landlord-tenant situations are governed under the South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
Sometimes, disputes happen but being familiar with the law can help you to understand your rights and responsibilities.
Let’s take a look at some of the laws that are most likely to affect you as a South Carolina renter.
Security deposits (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410)
There is no state-mandated maximum for security deposits, though a landlord must return a security deposit within 30 days of the termination of tenancy. The landlord should provide the former tenant with an itemized statement if there are deductions for unpaid rent, damages beyond normal wear and tear, or any other amount owed under the lease.
Landlord’s right to access (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530)
A landlord may enter a renter’s home under these circumstances:
- In an emergency
- To make necessary or previously agreed-upon repairs or provide services
- To show the property to a prospective purchaser, tenant, contractor, etc.
The landlord should provide 24 hours’ notice of their intent to enter, and may do so only at reasonable times.
Required Landlord Disclosures (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-420)
A landlord must notify the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy or lease period the name of the property owner and any individual or company that is authorized to manage the property.
The landlord is also required to provide and maintain the premises in a habitable condition.
What does it mean if the property is habitable?
A unit is habitable if it’s in a condition that’s fit for a tenant to live. The legal doctrine of the “implied warranty of habitability” means that a property is safe and suitable.
- Waterproof and weatherproof roof and walls;
- Running water, including hot water, and reasonable amounts of heat;
- Plumbing, electricity, and gas facilities maintained in good working order;
- Clean and sanitary buildings and grounds (free from pests, garbage, and other offensive material) maintained by the landlord;
- Adequate trash receptacles; and
- Floors, stairways, and railings are maintained in good repair.
A South Carolina landlord must also:
- Comply with requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety;
- Make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition; and
- Maintain all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
There can be certain repair-related tasks that are the tenant’s responsibility if both parties agree in good faith.
A tenant may give written notice and then may withhold rent if the landlord fails to maintain habitable conditions.
Evictions (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-710)
A landlord may evict a tenant for not paying rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or for illegal activity. The eviction process begins with a written notice. The notice period is five days for nonpayment of rent, and 14 days for a lease violation.
If the tenant refuses to move, the landlord must get the court involved; a landlord is not permitted to forcibly remove a tenant on their own.
It’s also illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant for exercising their legal rights, like complaining about unsafe or illegal living conditions. Increasing rent, decreasing services, or seeking an eviction within six months of a tenant’s exercising their rights is considered retaliation.
South Carolina tenants’ rights and responsibilities
The law protects a South Carolina tenant, but they must also uphold their responsibilities.
|South Carolina tenant’s rights||South Carolina tenant’s responsibilities|
|Right to a habitable home
Working plumbing, heating, electric, and clean and safe premises.
|Pay rent on time
Must pay rent on time, as set forth in the lease agreement.
|Right to privacy
24 hours’ notice before a landlord can enter, except for an emergency.
|Maintain the property
Must keep property clean and sanitary, and must notify the landlord of damages or necessary repairs.
|Right to withhold rent
If the landlord does not make essential repairs after receiving written notice and being given a reasonable amount of time.
Tenants must not disturb neighbors with excessive noise or other disruptive behavior.
|Right against retaliation
A tenant can’t be penalized for exercising legal rights like reporting code violations or unsafe living conditions.
|Follow lease agreement
Tenants must comply with the terms and conditions in the agreement, including those regarding pets, guests, and use of common areas.
|Provide notice before vacating
If a tenant needs to move out before the lease termination date, they should provide 30 days’ written notice.
A South Carolina landlord’s responsibility to maintain a tenant’s safety
In addition to habitability and maintenance issues, a landlord has a legal obligation to maintain a safe living environment for their tenants.
A tenant can expect their landlord to take the following safety measures:
This includes properly working door and window locks, peepholes in entrance doors, and sufficient outdoor lighting.
2. Health hazards
3. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
South Carolina law requires landlords to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in rental properties. Landlords must ensure these detectors are in working order at the beginning of a rental agreement.
Landlords must disclose any known potential hazards to tenants, such as lead-based paint in older buildings.
If you’re involved in a landlord dispute and believe that you’re being treated unfairly, your living conditions are unhealthy or unsafe, or that you’ve been a victim of retaliation, you can seek the advice of a landlord/tenant attorney.