7 Basics of South Carolina's Security Deposit Law

Landlords' Rights and Renters' Rights

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Renters in South Carolina have certain rights when they put down a security deposit for a rental property. These rights are protected under South Carolina’s landlord tenant law. They include rules for how much a landlord can collect and the timeline for returning the deposit after tenant move out. Here are seven basics of the law.

7 Basic Questions About Security Deposits in South Carolina

  1. Maximum Deposit- No Limit
  2. Same Deposit Amount- Security Deposit Amounts Can Differ
  3. Storing Deposits- No Requirement
  4. Written Notice- Not Required
  5. Deductions- Unpaid Rent, Damage
  6. Return Deposit- 30 Days
  7. Selling Property- Return Deposits to Tenants or Transfer to Buyer

1. Maximum Security Deposit in South Carolina?

There is no statewide limit as to how much a landlord can charge a tenant as a security deposit.

2. Do You Have to Charge All Tenants the Same Amount as a Security Deposit?

If Units Are Not Comparable:
If the units are not comparable, the security deposit amounts can differ. For example, you will charge tenants a security deposit that is equal to one month's rent. if you have a one bedroom that is $1000 a month and a two bedroom that is $1500 a month, the required security deposit amounts would be different. The security deposit for the one bedroom would be $1000 and the security deposit for the two-bedroom would be $1500, which would be perfectly legal.

If the Units Are Comparable:
South Carolina landlords are not required to charge the same amount for a security deposit even for comparable units.  However, if they do require different amounts for the security deposit for similar units, they must make the other tenants aware of this. The landlord can either:

  1. 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
  2. Provide each tenant with a written copy of this statement.

If a landlord fails to alert a tenant of the method of calculation for different security deposits, the landlord may not able to keep any of the tenant’s security deposit to cover damages the tenant has caused to their unit.

3. Storing the Security Deposit in South Carolina

There are no specific requirements for storing a tenant’s security deposit in South Carolina. A landlord is not required to store the deposit in a separate interest-bearing account, nor must they notify the tenant as to how the security deposit is being stored.

4. Is Written Notice Required After Receipt of the Security Deposit in South Carolina?

No. A landlord in South Carolina is not required to provide a tenant with written notice after receiving the tenant’s security deposit.

5. Deductions From Tenant's Security Deposit

In the state of South Carolina, landlords may be entitled to keep all or a portion of the security deposit for the following reasons:

6. Returning a Tenant’s Security Deposit in South Carolina

30 Days:

In South Carolina, a landlord has 30 days from termination of tenancy to return a tenant’s security deposit.

Deductions:

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 if the security deposit is not enough to cover the amount owed.

Forwarding Address:

  • The tenant must supply the landlord with their new 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.

Wrongful Withholding:

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.

7.What Happens to the Security Deposit if You Sell Your Property?

South Carolina landlords have two options if they sell the rental property:

  1. Return the security deposit owed directly to the tenant and notify the purchaser in writing that the landlord has returned the security deposit to the tenant.
  2. 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 governing 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.