For a landlord to evict a tenant in South Carolina, the landlord must follow all the rules and procedures set forth in the South Carolina state laws. If the landlord does not follow the state laws on eviction, the eviction may not be valid. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures required by South Carolina state law that landlords and property managers must follow when evicting a tenant.
Generally, the first step in the eviction process is for the landlord to terminate the tenancy. To do this, the landlord must have legal cause. In South Carolina, the most common types of legal cause are failure to pay rent, violation of the lease or rental agreement, or commission of an illegal act on the premises of the rental unit. To terminate the tenancy, the landlord is almost always required to give the tenant notice. The type of notice required will depend on the reason for the termination.
If the landlord does not have legal cause to terminate the lease or rental agreement, then the landlord must wait until the term of the tenancy has expired before expecting the tenant to move. In some cases, the landlord may still need to give the tenant written notice to move.
To terminate the tenancy of a month-to-month tenant, the landlord must give the tenant a 30-day notice. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the month-to-month tenancy and that the tenant must move out by a certain date, not less than 30 days from the date of the notice. If the tenant does not move out by that day, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-770). South Carolina Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information on this topic.
If the landlord wants the tenant to move but the tenant has a fixed-term lease and the landlord does not have legal cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must wait until the end of the lease term before expecting the tenant to move. The landlord is not required to give the tenant notice to move unless the lease specifically requires it. The landlord can instead expect the tenant to move by the end of the lease term.
Even though a landlord may have a valid legal reason to evict a tenant, the tenant may still decide to fight the eviction. The tenant may also have a valid legal defense against the eviction, such as the landlord discriminating against the tenant or the landlord failing to maintain the rental unit. The tenant's decision to fight the eviction could lead to the eviction lawsuit costing more or the tenant remaining in the rental unit for longer. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in South Carolina has more information on possible defenses available to tenants.
The only way a landlord can remove a tenant from a rental unit is for the landlord to win an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even then, the only person authorized to actually evict the tenant is a law enforcement officer. The landlord must never attempt to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit. In fact, South Carolina law has made this illegal. For more information, see Illegal Eviction Procedures in South Carolina.
After the tenant has been evicted, the landlord may find that the tenant has left behind personal belongings. In South Carolina, the landlord can immediately dispose of this property without further notifying the tenant, as long as the eviction notice clearly notified the tenant of the landlord's option to do so (see S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-710(D)).
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by South Carolina law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.