Security deposits are for the benefit and protection of the landlord against tenants who are negligent and careless. In South Carolina, security deposit laws are provided under the state’s landlord-tenant law.
South Carolina’s rental laws include rules that guide how much a landlord can collect and when they should return it after a tenant moves out.
7 Basic Guidelines About The South Carolina Security Deposit Law
1. Returning a Tenant’s Security Deposit
A landlord in South Carolina has 30 days to return a renter’s deposit when they move out. If a landlord fails to do this, they risk getting fined. They may end up paying the renter up to thrice the amount withheld plus court costs.
If the tenant has damaged the property, the landlord will have a right to make deductions from their deposit. The South Carolina security deposit law also requires them to do certain things.
They must prepare a statement with an itemized list of deductions. The statement must indicate the reason for the deductions, including the amount deducted. If the deposit isn’t enough to cover the amount owed, the landlord should also state that amount in the statement as well.
When the statement is ready, the landlord must send it to the tenant’s address. If the tenant hasn’t provided the landlord with a new forwarding address, then the landlord must use the tenant’s last known address.
2. Security Deposit Limit
In South Carolina, the security deposit law doesn’t limit how much a landlord can ask as a security deposit. They are free to charge any amount that they see fit. However, the amount has to be reasonable.
3. Security Deposit Amount
The South Carolina landlord-tenant law, regarding security deposits provides a guideline on how much landlords can charge renters for security deposit. The guideline is based on whether the rental units are comparable or not.
- When units are comparable:
Landlords are free to charge whichever security deposit amount they like. However, if they are charging different security deposit amounts for similar units, then the SC apartment law requires them to notify other tenants of this.
They must clearly explain how they arrived at the different security deposit amounts. Failure to do this will result in the landlord forfeiting their right to use any part of the renter’s security deposit.
- When units aren’t comparable:
The security deposit amounts can differ if the units are not comparable. The amount will be equal to one month’s rent.
For instance, the security deposit for a one-bedroom apartment renting for $1,000 a month would be $1,000. Likewise, the security deposit for a two-bedroom apartment renting for $1,500 a month would be $1,500.
4. Security Deposit Storage in South Carolina
Some states dictate how landlords should store a tenant’s security deposit. In Florida, for example, landlords have three options for storing a tenant’s security deposit. They can store it in an interest or non-interest-bearing account, or they can post a surety bond for deposit amount.
In South Carolina, however, there are no specific requirements for storing a tenant’s security deposit.
5. Security Deposit Receipt
In some states, landlords need to provide the tenant with a written notice to show they’ve received their deposit. In South Carolina, landlords don’t have to do this.
6. Acceptable Security Deposit Deductions under SC Rental Laws
South Carolina landlords can keep part or all of the tenant’s security deposit for two reasons: if the tenant is unable to pay rent, and if the tenant causes excessive property damage. In other words, any damage that exceeds normal wear and tear.
But, what damage exactly exceeds normal wear and tear? Well, here are some good examples:
- Broken refrigerator shelf or dented front panels
- A dryer that won’t turn at all because it’s been overloaded
- Mirrors caked with lipstick and makeup
- Missing or broken mini-blinds or curtain
- Bent of missing shower rod or plumbing fixtures
- Cracked or missing bathroom tiles
If the renter has done any of the above, the landlord has the right to deduct the appropriate amounts from their security deposit.
7. Change of Property Ownership
If ownership of the property changes hands in the course of a tenancy, the landlord can either transfer the deposit to the buyer or return it directly to the tenant.
If the landlord chooses the former, they must notify the tenant of doing so. The notice must be in writing and should indicate the name of the new owner. Once this is done, the new owner will become responsible for all liabilities regarding the tenant’s deposit.
If the landlord chooses to return it to the renter, then they must notify the new owner of doing so.
There you have it. The basics of the South Carolina security deposit laws.