Most residential leases and rental agreements in South Carolina require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month's rent, that's intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of South Carolina landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.
Does South Carolina law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?
No. In South Carolina, there's no statutory limit on security deposits at the state level, but check your city and county laws to see if your municipality has set a cap on security deposits for residential rentals.
To learn more about steps that tenants can take to protect their security deposit after they've paid it, check out Nolo's article Protect Your Security Deposit When You Move In.
What about when a tenant moves out? What is the deadline in South Carolina for returning a security deposit?
Under South Carolina law, a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has moved out.
Learn more about tenants' rights and landlords' obligations when it comes to the return of the security deposit in Nolo's chart Cleaning and Repairs a Landlord Can Deduct from a Security Deposit and Nolo's article Get Your Security Deposit Back.
Is there additional information that South Carolina landlords must provide to tenants when it comes to security deposits in South Carolina?
Not at the state level in South Carolina. But be sure to check your local (county, city, or town) laws to see if your municipality requires landlords to take additional steps when it comes to tenants' security deposits.
Where can I look up South Carolina law on security deposits?
If you want to go right to the source and look up South Carolina law on security deposits -- or if you're writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law -- the relevant statute(s) can be found at South Carolina Code Annotated § 27-40-410. Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in South Carolina. For tips on looking up South Carolina state and local laws, check out Nolo's State Laws & Legal Research section.
You may also find useful information on tenant rights in the guide available at http://www.scbar.org/publicservices/lawline/rightsanddutiesoftenants/.