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The Laws Concerning Evictions in South Carolina

Hello, property and potential property owners! Welcome to the RPM Distinguished Care blog, where we provide practical advice about property management! If you’re a return visitor, welcome back. We sincerely appreciate your support! RPM Distinguished Care specializes in managing successful rental properties in and around the Charleston area. We’re here to make your lives easier by giving you the resources you need to maximize profitability and have a successful rental property. We provide comprehensive property management services at every conceivable level. From advertising and marketing, to responding to applications, to inspecting and maintaining properties—there’s nothing we do not do. Further, we ensure tenant compliance, handle necessary evictions, and report directly back to you about revenue and profit potentials. We aim to make owning rental property as easy for you as possible, for as little money as possible. Check out the rest of our site to meet our team and discover what makes RPM Distinguished Care the best property management company in Charleston!


In our last post we provided an overview of the essential qualities necessary for good property management. Property management can become quite technical, especially when multiple properties and tenants are involved, but with the fundamentals of good property management under your belt, you can succeed no matter how complicated things become. Real Property Management has over thirty years of experience managing rental properties and we wanted to share some of the things we’ve learned over the years. Among the tips discussed, we covered efficient communication, identifying potential pain points, and consolidating data. If you would like a glimpse into our logos and ethos, as well as the basis upon which we build successful partnerships with owners and tenants alike, our last article is perfect for you! We hope you’ll head over and give ‘The Essentials of Good Property Management’ a read after finishing this article!


Today we’re discussing a topic which can be quite uncomfortable for everyone. Evictions are never ideal and are usually the last resort in a rental situation which has become untenable for everyone involved. While undesirable, evictions are a necessary part of owning rental properties. We want to give you a glimpse into how to properly handle an eviction, while ensuring your actions have proper legal precedent and abide by those laws which govern the state of South Carolina. Improper handling of an eviction could result in hefty fines or even litigation. To protect the interests of yourself and uphold the rights of your tenants, make sure you’re well-versed in eviction procedures! Real Property Management employs staff who are knowledgeable about eviction laws on both a state and local level. They are also trained to initiate a set of steps—with the final step being eviction—If and when a tenant breaches the terms of a lease. This set of steps ensures the eviction process runs smoothly, resolves in a timely manner, and incurs the minimal amount of costs. We even offer eviction protection, which acts as a sort of insurance for costs associated with evictions! If, after reading this article, you have no interest handling evictions at your rental property, reach out to RPM Distinguished Care for help!


How to determine if an eviction is necessary? 


It’s important to understand that evictions are legal actions, supported by court orders and governed by existing laws. Any eviction is a serious undertaking and must be supported by irrefutable evidence a term within the lease (a binding legal agreement) has been broken. For example, if a lease prohibits the presence of a pet in a rental unit and the owner becomes aware of the presence of pet within the rental unit, this is grounds for eviction. Similarly, if the tenant fails to pay rent, this is also grounds for eviction. How long does the tenant have to fail to pay rent before eviction proceedings can occur? Well, the answer is different according to the local laws of the area in which the tenant resides. In South Carolina, the law says you have only five days from the rent due date to pay before a landlord can begin eviction proceedings. However, eviction proceedings can take some time. If a tenant succeeds in paying the full rental amount during the term of the lease but continues to stay in the unit after the lease period has expired, this is further grounds for eviction.


Eviction based upon rules contained in the lease can be challenged for validity and legality. For example, if the lease stipulates a tenant will make an effort to keep the unit clean and free of any health or safety hazards, most courts will find this reasonable and thus enforceable. If, however, the lease stipulates a landlord can enter a tenant’s unit at any time of day without giving prior notice (and without the occurrence of an emergency), some courts may find this rule to be unreasonable and thus unenforceable. In cases such as the latter, the rest of the lease will be upheld while the rule deemed “unreasonable” will not. If an eviction lawsuit is based upon the breach of an “unreasonable” rule, the entire suit will most likely be thrown out. Participating in illegal acts on the premises of the rental unit is grounds for eviction.


How do you know it’s the right time? We recommend making a short checklist detailing the positives and negatives associated with continuing to allow the tenant who has breached the terms of their lease to stay. Beyond the loss of rent money, there are other negatives to be aware of, including a decline in property value due to destruction or squalor. While you may be inclined to wait out a tenant’s lease and cross your fingers for a better tenant next time, even several more months could cost you hundreds in repairs and lost rent. If the negatives outweigh the positives then it’s time to consider eviction as a remedy. Further, we recommend knowing what the tipping point will be before coming in contact with an unruly tenant, so as to eliminate the effects of emotional bias. Just as renting is a contractual relationship between tenant and owner, so too is eviction a means of ending a contractual relationship when it no longer serves one of the parties to continue.


How do you begin eviction proceedings? 


As you probably already know, evictions cannot occur without first giving notice to the tenant being evicted. However, before giving notice, you need to ensure you have a valid reason for evicting. You might consult with a real estate attorney or your property manager to understand whether or not the law is on your side. If the tenant has failed to pay rent, the eviction will begin in a straightforward manner. First, you will give the tenant notice they have five days to pay rent before eviction proceedings occur. If you have already given a five-day notice during the tenant’s lease period, there’s no need to do this a second time. This notice should clearly state the terms which the tenant must abide by or “quit” the property (i.e. move out). Such terms include the time frame in which to pay and the amount due. If a tenant has broken one of the leasing agreements and is being evicted for this reason, then a “cure or quit” notice provides the terms by which they might cure the violation. For example, they might find a new home for an unwelcome pet or move out. For a tenant who has severely damaged the rental property and this is why they are being evicted, an unconditional quit notice provides no terms and merely states the time limit in which they have to move out of the premises. Most states have conditions for when unconditional quit notices can be used. In South Carolina, to serve an unconditional quit notice, the tenant must:


  • Participate in illegal activity on the premises of the rental unit.
  • Repeatedly violate a significant lease or rental agreement clause
  • Be late with the rent on more than one occasion
  • Seriously damage the premises

If an unconditional eviction notice is served, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit immediately. Notices for evictions which do not have a cause also exist. This type of eviction is more commonly associated with short-term leases, such as month-to-month or week-to-week leases. In these cases, a landlord need only give a period of time equivalent to the term of one lease for the tenant to move out. For example, a tenant with a mouth-to-month lease would be given thirty days to vacate the premises. The reason this notice is necessary is because of tenant rights. Tenants cannot be evicted any other way, including changing the locks or turning off power, as these are considered illegal tactics. As well, owners cannot refuse to renew a lease on the basis of discrimination or as retaliation for complaints made by the tenant prior to the end of their initial lease.


After serving notice, you will then sue for eviction with the help of a real estate attorney. The attorney will help you complete the necessary paperwork involved, avoid costly errors, pay court filing fees, and attend the court hearing. At the court hearing, the original leasing agreement, in addition to payment records and copies of correspondence between the tenant and landlord, will be used as evidence. A judge will review whether a good-faith effort was made to allow the tenant to cure the violation and whether the tenant’s violation infringed upon the rights of other occupants in the area. If the eviction is granted, the judge will grant a Writ of Ejectment allowing you to legally remove the tenant from the property and collect past due rent.


As previously stated, evictions can be a laborious and time-consuming process, as well as emotionally taxing for those involved. We hope we’ve provided you with a comprehensive basis for understanding the eviction process and the role of an owner in such proceedings. Our job as a property management company is to alleviate the stress and hassle of evictions, which are a necessary aspect of running successful rental properties. For more information about our eviction protection, feel free to reach out to us. With Real Property Management Distinguished Care, we treat your property as if it were our own. No hidden fees, only safeguards and guarantees. Up-front packages you can review and prepare for right here on our website! We are more than happy to assist you in setting up the perfect property management service for your properties. Protecting your investments is our priority!

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