The South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act governs landlord and tenant transactions within the state. First enacted in 1986, the act governs apartments, individual rooms in apartments and homes. The state allows both parties to enter into oral and written lease agreements, and the act applies to both. It does not govern tenants in motels, hotels, employment housing and those with ownership rights.
Landlords’ Essential Duties
The South Carolina Landlord and Tenant Act requires that landlords provide habitable housing and necessary repairs for their tenants. They must keep their common areas reasonably clean if they rent at least four apartments. Landlords must provide their tenants with heat and hot water, unless the hot water and heating appliances are within their tenants’ complete control. Landlords can enter their tenants’ homes after providing at least 24 hours of advance notice but can enter without notice if they enter between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. to provide repair services. However, landlords can enter between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. if they are entering to provide services requested in advance by their tenants.
Terminating an Oral Lease
To legally terminate a specified-term tenancy, South Carolina law states that either party must provide written notice to the other party. If the agreement to rent is based on an oral contract, then month-to-month tenants must provide their landlords with at least 30 days’ written notice of termination prior to terminating the tenancy. If the agreement is an oral agreement for a weekly tenancy, then either party must give the other at least seven days’ written notice of termination. The landlord may also consent to early termination and must return any remaining security deposits within 30 days after vacancy.
Terminating a Written Lease
To terminate a written lease agreement, the method of termination should be stated in the written lease agreement. If the lease is silent, then the default termination rule is 30 days of written notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy or seven days of written notice to terminate a week-to-week tenancy. If the written lease states that tenants may not terminate before the specified term, then a tenant can be liable for remaining rent if he terminates his lease earlier than allowed under his lease. Since under South Carolina law tenants must continue to pay rent when there is a dispute in the remaining rent payments, tenants cannot simply stop paying rent in advance of resolving a dispute.
Under South Carolina law, landlords have a unique remedy to dispose of their tenants’ property if their tenants do not provide advance notice of absence and are absent for at least 15 days after failing to pay rent. After 15 days have passed and the attempt has been made to contact their tenants, landlords can consider their property abandoned and dispose of property worth less than $500.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.