This is a summary of South Carolina Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the South Carolina Code of Laws and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about South Carolina landlord-tenant laws, South Carolina eviction laws, and South Carolina renters’ rights.
However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.
Rules and Regulations Governing South Carolina Landlord-Tenant Laws
- S.C. Code Ann. §§ 27-40 – Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
South Carolina Lease Terms Provisions
- What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
There is no South Carolina law limiting security deposits.
- Are security deposits required to earn interest?
No. There is no South Carolina law requiring security deposits to earn interest.
- Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account?
No. There is no South Carolina law requiring security deposits to be stored in a separate bank account.
- Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?
No. There is no South Carolina law forbidding non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- How long do landlords have to return security deposits?
30 days after the later of termination of the tenancy and delivery of possession and demand by the tenant, whichever is later. The tenant must provide the landlord with a forwarding address or new address to which the written notice and amount due from the landlord may be sent. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410(a))
- Can landlords withhold security deposits?
Yes. Landlords can use the deposit to cover accrued rent and to repair any damages to the property caused by tenants’ failures to comply with their duties (see Tenant’s Duties). (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410(a))
- Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?
Yes. An itemized list, detailing the amount withheld must be sent to the tenant within 30 days. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410(a))
- Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?
No. There is no South Carolina law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.
- Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?
No. There is no South Carolina law specifying record-keeping requirements.
- What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?
A landlord must pay triple the amount wrongly withheld plus attorney’s fees if the security deposit refund and/or accounting is not returned within 30 days. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410(b))
- Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)
No. There are no rent control laws in South Carolina.
- When is rent due?
Rent is due at the time and place agreed upon by the landlord and tenant. Unless they agree to a different arrangement, rent is due at the beginning of the month and payable at the dwelling unit. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-310(c))
- Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?
No. There is no South Carolina law requiring a certain payment method for rent.
- Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?
Yes. There is no South Carolina law forbidding late fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?
No. There is no South Carolina law requiring a grace period before assessing late fees.
- Can landlords charge application fees?
Yes. There is no South Carolina law forbidding application fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- Can landlords charge returned check fees?
Yes. Landlords can charge a returned check fee of $30. (S.C. Code Ann. § 34-11-70(a))
South Carolina Landlord-Tenant Relations
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?
No. There is no South Carolina law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms.
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?
Yes. Provided the pesticide treatment is done between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, the landlord need not give the tenant prior notice other than upon arrival, so long as the terms are expressed in the lease agreement. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530(b)(2))
- What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?
No notice is required — the lease ends on the date stated in the lease.
- What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic tenancy?
Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 7 days’ written notice. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-770(a))
- What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month periodic tenancy?
Either the landlord or the tenant can terminate the tenancy with 30 days’ written notice. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-770(b))
- Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?
There is no statute in South Carolina law covering this issue.
- When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?
- To inspect the premises.
- To make necessary or agreed to repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements.
- To supply necessary or agreed services.
- To show the unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530(a))
- What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?
The landlord must provide 24 hours notice and only enter at reasonable times. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530(c))
- When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants?
- In case of an emergency.
- Under court order.
- When the landlord has reasonable cause to believe the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
- When accompanied by law enforcement to process an eviction.
- To make repairs to conditions materially affecting health and safety and caused by the tenants’ failure to comply with their duties (see Tenant’s Duties). (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-530)
Landlord’s Duties (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-440)
- Landlords must , at the commencement of the term, deliver possession of the premises to tenant in compliance with the rental agreement. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-430).
- Landlords must comply with applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Landlords must make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a habitable condition.
- Landlords must keep all common areas of the premises in a clean and safe condition.
- Landlords must maintain in good and safe working order all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord.
- Landlords must provide and maintain appropriate receptacles for the removal of garbage and arrange for their removal.
- Landlords must supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-440)
Tenant’s Duties (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-510)
- Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Tenants must keep that part of the premises that the tenant occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permits.
- Tenants must dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste cleanly and safely.
- Tenants must keep all plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits.
- Tenants must use all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances including elevators in the premises in a reasonable manner;
- Tenants must not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly, recklessly, or negligently permit any person to do so.
- Tenants and their guests must conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
- Tenants must not change the locks without the landlord’s permission. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-510).
- Tenants must occupy the dwelling unit only as a dwelling unit and must not conduct or permit any illegal activities thereon. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-540).
Required Landlord Disclosures
- Landlords are required to disclose in writing the names and business addresses of:
- the person authorized to manage the premises.
- the owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for service of process and receiving notices. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-420)
- Before renting pre-1978 property, landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards. (16 CFR 1303, 42 U.S. Code § 4852d) . If the landlord fails to disclose all known lead paint hazards, the landlord can face fines of up to $19,507 for each violation (24 CFR 30.65).
- If landlord leases four or more adjoined units in the same building, the security deposit must either be the same amount or there must be disclosure in a conspicuous place on the property that provides the calculating method. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410).
South Carolina Renters’ Rights
- What are South Carolina renters’ rights if landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)
If a landlord’s failure to comply with the rental agreement or their legal duties affects the provision of essential services to the tenant, the tenant may provide the landlord written notice specifying the breach and, if the landlord fails to act in a reasonable time, procure effective amounts of service and deduct the actual costs from the rent, or recover damages for diminution in rental value. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-630)
- Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?
No. South Carolina law prohibits tenants from withholding rent to enforce their legal rights. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-630)
- What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their South Carolina renter’s rights?
South Carolina law prohibits landlords from increasing rent, terminating the lease, or failing to renew a lease if a tenant has complained to a government agency about a code violation materially affecting health and safety or to the landlord for a breach of duty.
South Carolina Eviction Laws
- What are the reasons that landlords can evict tenants under South Carolina eviction laws?
- Nonpayment of rent
- Violation of lease terms / rental agreement
- A breach in the tenant’s duties materially affecting health and safety
- The tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration or termination of the term of the rental agreement (holdover tenancy)
- Failure to provide the landlord reasonable access to the unit (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-710)
- What notice do South Carolina eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
- For evictions based on non-payment of rent, the landlord may terminate the lease 5 days after providing the tenant written notice that the rent is past due. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-710(B))
- For evictions based on the tenant’s noncompliance affecting material health and safety, the lease is terminated 14 days after the tenant was provided written notice of the breach, so long as the tenant does not remedy the breach within the 14 days. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-720)
- For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, landlords must provide the notice required to end the tenancy. If the tenant’s holdover is deemed willful, the landlord can recover three times the periodic rent or twice actual damages, along with attorney’s fees. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-770(c))
- Do South Carolina eviction laws allow landlords to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities?
No. South Carolina does not allow self-help evictions. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-760)
- Are landlords permitted to recover damages from an evicted tenant?
Yes. The landlord has a right to back rent, a separate claim for actual damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees. (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-750)
COVID-19 Changes to South Carolina Landlord-Tenant Laws
- The CDC’s national eviction ban was effective through August 26, 2021, and is no longer in place.
- The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is no longer effective.
- South Carolina SCStay Program provides help to households experiencing financial hardships as a result of COVID-19.
- South Carolina list of resources for rental assistance.
Squatter’s rights in South Carolina
Under Homestead Act of 1862, individuals (squatters) can possess the property if they have lived there for a specific period of time, done so publicly, made repairs to the property, have deed to the property and have paid rent or taxes on this property.
South Carolina has no specific laws recognizing squatters.The squatter must uninterruptedly live on the property for 10 years to claim adverse possession (S.C. Code Ann. § 15-67-210).
- South Carolina Judiciary Department
- South Carolina Attorney General
- South Carolina Insurance Division
- South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – South Carolina
- South Carolina Real Estate Commission
Attorney Referral Services
Realtor and Landlord-Tenant Associations
- South Carolina Association of Realtors
- Local Boards of Realtors
- Upstate Carolina Real Estate Investment Association