South Carolina Tenant Rights Laws

From Charleston to Greenville, renters in South Carolina know there are plenty of problems that can arise within the landlord-tenant relationship. Thankfully, in addition to federal and local rules, there are many state laws governing these issues to help you understand your rights and obligations. The article below discusses some important South Carolina tenant rights laws.

Tenant Rights: From Discrimination to Eviction

First, South Carolina law protects you against discrimination based on race, disability, familial status, and other protected characteristics. This means a landlord can't refuse to rent to you or offer alternative terms in your rental agreement simply because you exhibit a certain trait.

You're also entitled to live in a unit that's in fit, habitable condition, and free from harassment by your landlord. In most cases, your landlord can't enter the unit without your consent and is required to give 24 hours' notice before performing agreed-upon repairs, inspections, or showing the unit to prospective buyers or renters. However, no consent is necessary for emergencies and the provision of certain regularly scheduled services specified in the rental agreement, such as pest control and changing air-conditioning filters.

Since these and other laws are meant to protect you from unfair practices within the landlord-tenant relationship, it's also illegal for your landlord to retaliate against you for asserting your rights. This includes raising the rent above fair market value or evicting you simply because you requested repairs or complained to a government authority about certain code violations.

South Carolina Tenant Rights Laws at a Glance

The following chart provides a summary of South Carolina state laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship, including links to important code sections.

Statutes

  • §27-40-10 to 27-40-940
  • Security Deposits: §27-40-410
  • Habitability: §27-40-440; 27-40-530
  • Discrimination: §31-21-60
  • Notice: §27-40-530; 27-40-770
  • Eviction: §27-40-530; 27-40-710
  • Retaliation: §27-40-910

Security Deposits

  • Limit: No statutory maximum
  • Must return all or part of the security deposit within 30 days, with itemized list of deductions
  • Part or all may be used for:
    • Unpaid rent or utility bills
    • Damages beyond wear and tear due to tenant’s noncompliance with §27-40-510

Paying Rent

  • May not raise rent during lease term (e.g. 1 year lease) unless lease allows; may raise rent upon lease renewal

Living Conditions

  • With 24 hours' notice and at reasonable times, landlord may enter unit for certain reasons including:
    • To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, etc.
    • Inspect premises
    • Show unit to prospective tenants or purchasers
    • In emergency (no notice or consent required)
    • To provide regularly scheduled services such as changing furnace and air-conditioning filters (no advance notice or consent required)
  • Landlord must maintain premises in habitable condition:
    • Comply with building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety
    • Make necessary repairs
    • Make available running water and, in certain cases, heat and hot water

Discrimination

  • No discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin

Ending or Renewing a Tenancy

  • Notice required to terminate periodic tenancy:
    • Monthly tenancy: 30 days
    • Week-to-week tenancy: seven days
    • Tenancy with fixed end date: no notice required
    • Eviction: five days for failure to pay rent; 14 days for other lease violations
  • Eviction: court order required

Retaliation

  • Landlord may not retaliate against tenant for exercising tenant rights

Note: State regulations are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

South Carolina Tenant Rights Laws: Related Resources

Receive a Free Evaluation of Your Rental Issues

Even with access to key statutes and important rules, it can be difficult to know how to go about asserting your rights in a particular situation. Whether your landlord is nice but unresponsive, or the perfect example of a slumlord, having a legal professional look at your case can provide direction and peace of mind. Receive a free case review to better understand your rights and options under South Carolina tenant rights laws.

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