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Potential Claims Against Landlords Under the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act

As a landlord in South Carolina, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential claims tenants may bring against you under the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act. Failing to comply with your legal obligations can result in costly disputes and legal consequences. If you are facing a tenant claim, the experienced South Carolina landlords’ rights attorneys at Crawford & von Keller, LLC are here to protect your interests. Below are three key areas where tenants may file claims against landlords:

Security Deposits and Prepaid Rent

Under Section 27-40-410 of the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act, landlords must adhere to strict rules when handling security deposits and prepaid rent. Upon termination of the tenancy, landlords must return these funds to tenants, less any allowable deductions for accrued rent and damages caused by the tenant’s noncompliance with Section 27-40-510.

Landlords must provide tenants with an itemized notice of any deductions within 30 days of termination and delivery of possession. The landlord must send this notice to the tenant’s last known address or forwarding address if provided. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to serious consequences for landlords.

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, prepaid rent, or provide the required itemized notice, tenants may file a claim to recover their funds. In such cases, tenants may be entitled to recover up to three times the amount wrongfully withheld, along with reasonable attorney’s fees.

To avoid these claims, landlords must carefully:

  • Document any deductions
  • Maintain detailed records
  • Promptly return any remaining funds to the tenant.

Following the proper procedures and timelines outlined in the Act is essential.

Landlord’s Noncompliance with Rental Agreement or Failure to Maintain Premises

Section 27-40-610 of the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act provides tenants with the right to file claims against landlords for material noncompliance with the rental agreement or failure to maintain the premises in accordance with the Act.

Material noncompliance includes any substantial failure to perform or comply with the rental agreement, such as failing to provide essential services like water, electricity, or heating. It also encompasses the landlord’s failure to maintain the premises in a safe and habitable condition, as required by Section 27-40-440.

If a landlord fails to remedy a material breach within 14 days of receiving written notice from the tenant, the tenant may have the right to terminate the rental agreement. This notice must specify the acts and omissions constituting the breach and state that the rental agreement will terminate if the breach is not remedied within 14 days.

In addition to termination, tenants may seek actual damages and injunctive relief in a magistrate’s or circuit court. If the landlord’s noncompliance is found to be willful, tenants may be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees.

To protect against these claims, landlords must promptly address maintenance issues, respond to tenant concerns, and ensure that the rental property meets all applicable health and safety standards. Withholding rent is not an available remedy for the tenant, except in the case of a failure to provide essential services as defined in Section 27-40-630 of the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act.

Violations of Building and Housing Codes

Tenants have the right to live in a dwelling that complies with applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety. Section 27-40-510 of the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act requires landlords to maintain the premises in compliance with these codes.

If a landlord fails to remedy code violations within a reasonable time after receiving notice, tenants may have the right to terminate the rental agreement. This right to terminate is separate from the tenant’s right to terminate for material noncompliance under Section 27-40-610.

Landlords who fail to address code violations may also face legal consequences from local code enforcement agencies, including fines and penalties. In some cases, tenants may be able to file claims against landlords for damages related to the code violations, such as health issues or property damage. Further, failure to provide those essential services could allow the tenant a viable reason to forgo paying rent, as defined in Section 27-40-630.

To minimize the risk of these claims, landlords must regularly inspect the property, address any code violations promptly, and maintain detailed records of repairs and maintenance.

Protect Your Interests with Experienced Legal Representation

Navigating tenant claims can be complex and time-consuming for landlords. You can avoid significant financial losses and damage to your reputation with proper legal guidance.

At Crawford & von Keller, LLC, our knowledgeable South Carolina landlords’ rights lawyers are committed to helping you with any tenant claims you might face. With decades of combined experience, we provide personalized service and proven legal strategies to protect your interests.

Our team can help you understand your rights and obligations under the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act, develop effective strategies to prevent and respond to tenant claims and represent you in court if necessary.

Don’t let tenant claims catch you off guard. Contact Crawford & von Keller, LLC at (803) 790- 2626 or reach out to us online today for a consultation and let us help you minimize your legal risks and achieve a favorable outcome.

Potential Claims Against Landlords Under the South Carolina Landlord Tenant Act

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