South Carolina Landlord Law by yfc13850

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									  The South Carolina Residential
  Landlord-Tenant Act

          Clanitra L. Stewart, Esq.
South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center
     South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice
    Center is dedicated to advocacy for low-
income people in South Carolina and effecting
   systemic change by acting in and through
   the courts, the legislature, administrative
     agencies, communities and the media.
      We help others do the same through
   education, training and co-counseling. To
      find out more about us, please visit on the Internet.
This Presentation Is For Educational
Purposes Only
   This Landlord-Tenant law presentation is
    provided as an educational resource and is not
    intended as legal advice or to answer any specific
    legal question relating to any specific set of facts.

   If you or your clients have questions about how
    the law applies in specific situations or if you or
    your clients receive court papers, they should
    consult an attorney of their choice as soon as
For Legal Assistance

   South Carolina Legal Services (Serving the
    low-income community)
      Call LATIS at 1-888-346-5592

   SC Bar Lawyer Referral Service (Serving the
    general public)
      Call 1-800-868-2284
To File a Housing Discrimination

   Department of Housing and Urban
    Development (HUD)
       Call 1-800-669-9777 or 1-800-440-8091

   South Carolina Human Affairs Commission
       Call 1-800-521-0725
 The South Carolina Code

Basic South Carolina Landlord-Tenant law is
addressed in Title 27 of the SC Code:
   South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
        § 27-40-10 et. seq.

   Landlord and Tenant Generally
        § 27-33-10 et. seq.

   Creation, Construction and Termination of Leasehold
        § 27-35-10 et. seq.
More on the South Carolina Code
Basic South Carolina Landlord-Tenant
law is addressed in Title 27 of the SC
      Ejectment of Tenants
           § 27-37-10 et. seq.

      Rent
           § 27-39-10 et. seq.

      Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act
           § 27-47-10 et. seq.
    Related Statutes and Regulations
   Federal Law
       Federal Fair Housing Act
            42 U.S.C. § 3601 et. seq. / 24 CFR Part 100, 103, & 104

       Public Housing Law
            42 U.S.C. § 1437 / 24 CFR Parts 5, 960, 966, etc.

       Section 8 Project-Based Housing Program
            42 U.S.C. § 1437 /24 CFR Part 983

       Housing Choice Voucher Program
            42 U.S.C. § 1437(o) / 24 CFR Parts 5 & 982
Related Statutes and Regulations

   Other State Law
       South Carolina Fair Housing Law
            § 31-21-10 et. seq.
    South Carolina Residential Landlord and
    Tenant Act
   The South Carolina Residential Landlord and
    Tenant Act (SCRLTA) is located at § 27-40-10 et.
    seq. It applies to most Landlord-Tenant
    arrangements except the following:

       Residency in an institution;

       Occupancy of a buyer under a contract of sale;

       Occupancy in a structure associated with a fraternal
        or social organization;
    South Carolina Residential Landlord and
    Tenant Act

   Transient occupancy in a hotel, motel or other accommodations
    subject to the sales tax on accommodations;

   Occupancy in premises owned by an employer-Landlord where
    occupancy is conditional upon employment;

   Occupancy by the owner of a condominium unit or the owner of a
    proprietary lease in a co-op;

   Occupancy under a rental agreement covering the premises used by
    the occupant primarily for agricultural purposes;
         South Carolina Residential Landlord and
         Tenant Act
       Occupancy in a vacation time share; and

       Residence at a charitable or emergency protective

   The SCRLTA is a gap-filler. It covers omitted
    necessary terms without overly-limiting the ability
    of a Tenant and a Landlord to make a rental
       Examples of Necessary Terms: Amount of rent, time and
        place of rent payment, term of the tenancy, etc.
    Is a Written Lease Required?
   No, but it’s smart to have one.

   Even if the Landlord doesn’t sign the rental
    agreement, acceptance of rent gives the rental
    agreement the same effect as if it had been
    signed (§ 27-40-320)

   If the Tenant doesn’t sign the rental agreement,
    possession of the unit and payment of rent is as
    good as signing. (§ 27-40-320)
What is NOT Allowed in a Rental
Agreement? - § 27-40-330
   A waiver of the Tenant’s rights or remedies under
    the SCRLTA

   An authorization for someone else to confess
    judgment on behalf of the Tenant on a claim on
    rental agreement

   Provisions that shift the Landlord’s liability to the

   The Tenant may recover additional damages if the
    Landlord deliberately or maliciously includes these
    terms in a lease
     Obligations of the Landlord
   Landlords must:
       Deliver possession of the unit at the beginning of the
        lease term (§ 27-40-430)
       Disclose owner or any agents who are authorized to act
        on owner’s behalf re: service, notices, demands (§ 27-40-
          In writing
          Before or at the beginning of the tenancy

          Must include the name and address of the owner and agents

          Because agents of the Landlord must comply also, failure to
           comply makes the authorized person liable for purpose of
           service of process, notice/demands/ and performing
           Landlord’s obligations
     Obligations of the Landlord
   Landlords must:
      Maintain  the Premises (§ 27-40-440)
         This includes:
            Complying with housing and building codes
              affecting health and safety
            Making repairs and keeping premises in fit and
              habitable condition
            Keeping common areas in a reasonably safe
            Keeping common areas in a reasonably clean
              condition (if more than 4 units on premises)
            Making running water, reasonable amounts of
              hot water, and reasonable heat available
Obligations of the Landlord

   Maintaining electrical, gas, plumbing, sanitary, heating,
    ventilating, air condition, and other facilities and
    appliances in reasonably good and safe working condition

   Note: Appliances located in the unit are presumed to be
    supplied by the Landlord unless the rental agreement says

   Note: Where the building/housing code requires more
    than the SCRLTA, the building/housing code trumps
Obligations of the Landlord

 Undervery limited circumstances, the Landlord
 and Tenant can agree that Tenant has the
 responsibility to perform certain specified repairs
   Done in good faith and not to evade legal obligations
   The work is not necessary to make unit comply with
    housing/building codes
   The unit is not a single-family residence

   The agreement does not change the obligations the
    Landlord has to other Tenants in the premises
Additional Rules and Regulations from
the Landlord
   A Landlord can adopt rules or regulations about
    the Tenant’s use and occupancy of the property if:
    (§ 27-40-520)
       They are to promote the safety, convenience, or welfare
        of the Tenants, preserve the property from abuse or
        make a fair distribution of services and facilities for
       They are reasonably related to the purposes for which
        they are adopted;
       They apply to all Tenants in a fair manner;
       They are specific enough to put the Tenant on notice of
        what is and is not allowed;
Additional Rules and Regulations from
the Landlord
   They are not meant to help the Landlord evade his or
    her obligations; and

   The Tenant receives notice when entering into the
    rental agreement or when the rules are adopted
      If therules and regulations substantially modify the
       bargain and if the Tenant objects in writing to the Landlord
       within 30 days after promulgation of the rules, the
       rules/regulations are not valid as to that Tenant
    Limitation of Liability
   Under § 27-40-450, unless otherwise agreed,
    when a Landlord sells the premises, the
    Landlord is relieved of liability under the rental
    agreement for events occurring after the
    Tenant receives written notice of the sale
       Except as to the security deposit if the security
        deposit is transferred to the new purchaser and the
        Tenant is notified in writing a reasonable time after
        the sale about the transfer of the deposit
            If this occurs, the new purchaser is on the hook for
             complying with security deposit requirements
Prohibited Conduct by Landlord
   Landlords cannot:
       Abuse their right to access the premises –
            § 27-40-530(c) and § 27-40-660
       Shut off essential services - § 27-40-630 and § 27-
       Improperly exclude the Tenant from the unit
            § 27-40-660
       Engage in retaliatory conduct for a Tenant’s
        complaint- § 27-40-910
       Fail or refuse to comply with the requirements
        regarding the return of security deposits –
            § 27-40-410
    Obligations of the Tenant
   Tenants must: (§ 27-40-510)
       Keep the unit reasonably safe and clean
       Dispose of trash and waste from unit in a reasonably
        clean and safe manner
       Keep plumbing fixtures in unit reasonably clean
       Use facilities and appliances in reasonable manner
       Comply with lease, rules, and regulations
       Pay rent on time (§ 27-40-710)
     Obligations of the Tenant
   Refrain from deliberate damage to the unit or allowing
    guests to damage unit

   Use the unit as a dwelling only and not conduct illegal
    activities on premise (§ 27-40-540)

   Refrain from disturbing the other Tenant’s peaceful
    enjoyment of premises or allowing guests to do so
Prohibited Conduct by the Tenant
      Tenants cannot:
          Damage the unit or allow guests to do so
          Unreasonably withhold consent for the Landlord
           to enter the unit to inspect, repair, or exhibit the
           unit (§ 27-40-530)
          Disturb other Tenants or allow guests to do so
          Violate health and safety codes
          Abandon the rental unit (§ 27-40-730)
          Use the premises for purposes other than a
           dwelling or conduct illegal activity on premises (§
    Accessing the Unit
   When a Landlord can enter the unit:
       Without consent (§ 27-40-530)
          In case of emergency
          Between 9am and 6pm for regularly scheduled services if
           stated in rental agreement conspicuously, and if the
           Landlord announces the intent to do so prior to entering
          Between the hours of 8am and 9pm to provide services
           requested by the Tenant, and if the Landlord announces
           the intent to do so prior to entering
          With a court order

          Other limited circumstances

       In all other cases, Landlord must give 24 hours notice
        and can only enter at reasonable time
     Lease Termination by Landlord
   If Tenant fails to comply with lease through:
       Nonpayment of rent (§ 27-40-710)
          Tenant has five days from date the rent is due to pay
          Landlord must give written notice of nonpayment and his
           intent to terminate the rental agreement if rent is not paid
           during the five day period under § 27-40-710(B)
                 If this notice is part of the written rental agreement, no other
                  notice is necessary
                 Only one such notice is required for any lease term

       Breach of lease materially affecting health and safety or
        physical condition of the property (§ 27-40-720)
            Landlord must give 14 day written notice to Tenant unless the
             case is an emergency
Lease Termination by Landlord
   Abandonment of the Unit (§ 27-40-730)
      If there is an unexplained absence by the Tenant for 15
       days after a failure to pay rent
      If the Tenant has voluntarily terminated the utilities and
       there is an unexplained absence after failure to pay rent,
       the 15-day rule does not apply
            Abandonment is considered immediate
      If abandonment and   Tenant leaves property less than
       $500 in value, the Landlord can enter the unit and
       dispose of the property
      If abandonment and Tenant leaves more than $500 in
       property, Landlord must deal with property through the
       ejectment procedure in § 27-37-10 et. seq.
     Lease Termination by Landlord
   Through normal ending of lease
      Written notice   of termination of lease with at least one
      term’s notice
         If lease is week-to-week, one week’s notice
         If lease is month-to-month or for 1 year, one month’s notice
     Lease Termination by Tenant
   If Landlord fails to comply with the lease through:
        Lease violations or breach of lease that materially affects health
         and safety or the physical condition of the unit, the Tenant may
         give 14 days notice to the Landlord in writing
              § 27-40-610
              The Landlord has the opportunity to cure the breach

        Failure to deliver possession of the unit to Tenant
              § 27-40-620
                  Tenant can give 5 days’ written notice to the Landlord to

                   terminate (and get back prepaid rent and security deposit) or
                  Tenant can demand performance of rental agreement
  Lease Termination by Tenant
 Fire and    Casualty Damage (§ 27-40-650)
      If unit is uninhabitable, Tenant may immediately vacate and give
       Landlord 7 days’ notice in writing of the intention to terminate the
       rental agreement
      If the unit is partially inhabitable and lawful, Tenant’s rent is reduced
       in proportion to diminution in value of rental unit

 Unlawful ouster or      exclusion by Landlord
      § 27-40-660
            No specific notice required, but Tenant can either recover
             possession or terminate rental agreement and three times the
             rent or twice the actual damages (whichever is greater)
            If termination of rental agreement, Landlord must return
             security deposit
     Security Deposits
   § 27-40-410
          When the tenancy is terminated, the security deposit must
           be returned to the Tenant minus any amount held for rent
           and damages due to Tenant’s noncompliance with the lease
           (not normal wear and tear) within the latter of 30 days from
           the termination date or demand by the Tenant
                Itemized damage list plus refunded portion if damages

          The Tenant must provide the Landlord in writing with a
           forwarding address for security deposit return

          Potential for treble damages if Landlord does not comply
Jurisdiction Under the SCRLTA

   Circuit Courts and Magistrate Courts both
    have jurisdiction (i.e., concurrent
    jurisdiction) over Landlord-Tenant disputes
    and evictions under the SCRLTA. See § 22-3-
Service of Process Under the SCRLTA –
Serving the Tenant
    Serving the Tenant
        Once served, the Tenant has 10 days to respond to Rule to Show

    Methods of Service
        Personal Service - § 27-37-30(A)
        If the unit has been abandoned, service can be made through
         posting - § 27-37-30(B)
            Posting = On the most conspicuous part of the premises
            Abandonment = Unexplained absence from the premises for
              at least 15 days after failure to make a rental payment
                 Before the first attempt at service
Service of Process Under the SCRLTA –
Serving the Tenant
   By posting and mailing – § 27-37-30(C)
      Two attempts must have been made first at least 48 hours
       apart and at different times of day at least 8 hours apart
      On the first attempt to serve, a copy of the Rule to Show
       Cause must be posted at the most conspicuous part of the
      On the second attempt to serve, the documentation of the
       two attempts to serve the rule must be attached to the copy
       of the Rule to Show Cause when it is affixed to the most
       conspicuous part of the premises.
      Service completed after above and 10 days have passed
       from time of mailing, unless Tenant contacts Court prior to
       10 days.
Service of Process Under the SCRLTA –
Serving the Landlord
        When service through posting and mailing, Magistrate Court
         Clerk must verify that proper documents were placed in a
         properly addressed envelope with proper postage and

   Serving the Landlord - § 27-40-130
        If the Landlord is not a resident of SC or is a corporation not
         authorized to do business in SC, an agent for service located
         within the state can be designated by the Landlord
              Designation must be in writing and filed with the Secretary of

        If there is no designation or if designated agent cannot be
         served, the Secretary of State can be served
Service of Process Under the SCRLTA –
Serving the Landlord
    To serve the     Secretary of State, the Plaintiff must:
         1. Mail a copy of the process and pleading to the Landlord
          by registered mail or certified mail, return receipt
          requested at the Landlord’s last reasonably attainable
          address, and

         2. File an affidavit of compliance with the court of the
          county where the action is filed
    Evictions - §27-37-10 et. seq.

   Landlords must proceed in court to evict, unless
    there is an abandonment situation with less than
    $500 in property per § 27-40-730
   Tenant receives service per previous slides, and has
    10 days to request a hearing
   A jury trial is available on demand by either side
   Procedures for hearing scheduling vary by county
    Evictions - §27-37-10 et. seq.
   While case is pending, Tenant keeps paying rent
    while in possession of unit without Landlord’s
    rights being waived
       (§ 27-37-150)
A Few Words about Public and
Subsidized Housing
    Public Housing
        24 CFR Parts 5, 960, 966, etc.
        The assistance is tied to the unit
        HUD funds local housing authorities to provide
         low- or no-cost housing to low-income
           The Housing Authority is the Landlord with public
           HUD rules for public housing provide greater
            protection to Tenants than the SCRLTA, so those
            rules also apply
A Few Words about Public and
Subsidized Housing
    Section 8 Project Based Housing Program
        24 C.F.R. Part 983
        The assistance is tied to the unit

    Housing Choice Voucher Program – Formerly
     known as the Section 8 Voucher Program
        24 C.F.R. Part 982
        Assistance is tied to the Tenant, who is able to
         seek private-market housing
    A Few Words about Public and
    Subsidized Housing
        The private owner signs a Housing Assistance Payment
         contract with the Housing Authority, specifying the amount of

        Tenants sign a lease with the private owner

        Tenants must abide by both the lease and the HUD rules

   All public and subsidized housing in SC is covered by
    the SC Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, but federal
    regulations usually give tenants and landlords greater
    rights and/or responsibilities than under just the
    SCRLTA. Therefore, the appropriate federal rules must
    be consulted along with the SCRLTA when public and
    subsidized housing landlords or tenants have issues.
A Few Words About Fair Housing Laws
   In brief, the Federal Fair Housing Act and its
    amendments prohibit housing discrimination on
    the basis of:
        - Race                    - Color
        - Gender                  - Religion
        - National Origin         - Disability
        - Familial Status
    What is Familial Status?
   In general, familial status means whether or not there is a
    child under 18 in the household.

   It can also mean whether someone is pregnant, or getting
    legal custody or already has legal custody of one or more
    children under 18.

   Exception: Some housing is set aside by the government as
    “Housing for Older Persons” or “Senior Housing”. Special
    rules have to be met for housing to use this exception to
    the FHA
     Fair Housing Laws
   Fair Housing Laws generally prohibit the following,
    if they are done based on one or more of those
    seven categories:
       Refusal to rent
       Refusal to negotiate for housing
       Making housing unavailable
       Setting different terms, conditions, or privileges for rental of a
       Providing different housing services or facilities
       Falsely stating that housing is unavailable for inspection or rental
       Denying access to or membership in a facility or service related to
        the rental of housing
Does the FHA Give Additional Rights to
the Disabled?

      Yes. Under the FHA, if you or someone in your
       household is disabled, your Landlord must let
       you make reasonable modifications to your
       unit or common areas if you need these to use
       the housing.

          The reasonable modifications must be paid for by
           the disabled person or family.

          If it is reasonable, your Landlord can make you
           remove the reasonable modifications when you
What are Reasonable Modifications?
     They are necessary physical changes to the housing
      or common areas to help a disabled person use the

     Some examples of reasonable modifications are:

         Having a doorway widened to fit a wheelchair

         Having a ramp added to a unit for a wheelchair

         Having “grab bars” added to a bath tub

      * There are special rules for some newer buildings where
         these changes must already be made.
Does the FHA Give Additional Rights to
the Disabled?
    If you or someone in your household is
     disabled, you also have the right to have
     reasonable accommodations made if it will
     help you to use the housing.

        The cost of the reasonable accommodation is not
         paid for by the disabled person.

        A reasonable accommodation must be necessary
         to help the disabled person using the housing.
What are Reasonable Accommodations?

     Reasonable accommodations are necessary
      changes to a Landlord’s rules or policies to
      help a disabled person use the housing.

     Some examples of reasonable
      accommodations are:
         Allow a seeing eye dog in a building where pets
          are not allowed
         Making disabled parking available in front of a
          unit for a disabled person
Does South Carolina Have a state Fair
Housing Law?

     Yes. South Carolina’s Fair Housing Law
      (found at SC Code Ann. § 31-21-10 et. seq.)
      echoes the federal law.

     The South Carolina Human Affairs
      Commission is the agency that oversees the
      SC Fair Housing Law (for non-federally
      funded properties)
       Additional Questions?
          Clanitra L. Stewart, Esq.
Hunger, Housing, and Community Economic
    SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center
               P.O. Box 7187
            Columbia, SC 29202
   Voice: (803) 779-1113 extension 104
            Fax: (803) 779-5951

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