Tenants' Security Deposit Rights in South Carolina
7 Security Deposit Laws in the State
Landlords in South Carolina can hold a certain amount of money from their tenants, known as a security deposit. There are very specific state laws the landlord must follow when collecting, storing and returning this deposit to the tenant after move out. Here are seven basic rights tenants in South Carolina have when it comes to their security deposit.
Security Deposit Amount in South Carolina
South Carolina does not have a limit on how much a landlord can charge a tenant as a security deposit. The landlord can charge however much a tenant is willing to pay.
Do Security Deposit Amounts Have to Be the Same?
Landlords can charge tenants different security deposit amounts if they follow these rules:
If Units Are Not Comparable:
Security deposit amounts can be different if the units are not similar. If the landlord charges the equivalent of one month's rent as a security deposit, the security deposit amount would naturally be different for different sized apartments. The security deposit for a one bedroom that rents for $1,000 a month would be $1,000 and the security deposit for a two bedroom that rents for $1500 a month would be $1500. That would be perfectly legal.
If the Units Are Comparable:
South Carolina landlords also have the right to charge different security deposit amounts for comparable units. However, if they do require different security deposit amounts for similar units, they must make the other tenants aware of this. The landlord can either:
- Post a notice in a communal gathering point, either on the premises or at the rental office, clearly explaining how security deposits are calculated or
- Provide each tenant with a written copy of this statement.
If a landlord fails to provide notice of the different security deposit amounts, the landlord may not be able to keep any of the tenant’s security deposit to cover damages the tenant has caused to their unit.
Storing Deposits During Tenancy
South Carolina does not have any specific rules for how a landlord must store a tenant's security deposit during tenancy. A landlord does not have to store the deposit in a separate interest-bearing account, nor do they have to provide the tenant with written notice about the conditions under which the deposit is being stored.
Is Written Notice Required After Landlord Receives Security Deposit?
No. A landlord in South Carolina is not required to provide a tenant with written notice after receiving the tenant’s security deposit.
Deductions From Tenant's Security Deposit
Landlords in South Carolina can only keep all or a portion of the security deposit for very basic reasons. These include
Returning the Security Deposit in South Carolina
In South Carolina, a landlord has 30 days from termination of tenancy to return a tenant’s security deposit.
If the landlord has made any deductions from the security deposit, he or she must also include:
- A written itemized statement stating the reason for the deduction
- The amount that has been deducted
- Any additional money owed by the tenant if the security deposit is not enough to cover the amount owed.
- The tenant must supply the landlord with their forwarding address in writing.
- The landlord must send the security deposit and the written itemized statement, if necessary, to the forwarding address that has been supplied by the tenant.
- If the tenant has not supplied the landlord with a new forwarding address, the landlord must send the deposit to the last known address of the tenant.
If a landlord fails to return the money owed to the tenant within this 30-day period, the tenant may be entitled to up to three times the amount that was wrongfully withheld, plus attorney fees.
What Happens to the Security Deposit if You Sell Your Property?
South Carolina landlords have two options if they sell the rental property:
- Return the security deposit owed directly to the tenant and notify the new buyer in writing that the landlord has returned the security deposit to the tenant.
- Transfer the security deposit to the buyer and notify the tenant in writing that the new owner of the property is now in possession of their security deposit.
What Is South Carolina’s Security Deposit Law?
For the original text on security deposit laws in the state of South Carolina, please consult South Carolina Code Annotated § 27-40-410; 27-40-450; and 27-40-520.