As a landlord, sometimes you’re left with no other choice than to evict a tenant. But for the eviction process to be successful, you need to follow all the rules and procedures. Using self-help methods is illegal in South Carolina.
Primary reasons why landlords evict tenants include:
- Failure to pay rent
- Illegal activity
- A breach of the rental agreement or lease conditions
- Expiry of the lease agreement
The following is the South Carolina Eviction Process:
Notice of Termination With Cause
Generally, this is the first step in the eviction process. The notice must contain the reason for the eviction. In South Carolina, failure to pay rent is the most common lease violation. Others include the commission of an illegal act on the premises or violation of the lease agreement.
To begin the South Carolina eviction process, you’re required to serve the appropriate notice. Following are the common types of notices.
Eviction Notices Offered in South Carolina
· 5-Day Notice to Pay Rent
Landlords may end the lease agreement and start eviction proceedings if rent isn’t paid within five days after it’s due. This notice isn’t however necessary if your lease agreement already contains a statement like this, “If you do not pay rent on time..”.
After the lapse of the 5-day period, you can then file an eviction lawsuit. But if the tenant pays rent, you must not proceed with the eviction.
· 14-Day Notice for breach of the terms of the rental agreement
Besides non-payment of rent, you can also evict a tenant for lease violations. The notice must specify the violations. After issuance of the notice, the tenant will have fourteen days to remedy the violation. Otherwise, you can file a lawsuit after the 14-day period.
Unlike other notices, this one can either be verbal or written.
· 14-Day Notice for failure to maintain the dwelling in a healthy and safe manner
The Landlord and Tenant Act require tenants to take care of the rental premises. Failure to do so allows landlords reasons to evict them. In case of emergency, the tenant must comply immediately. If not, they must comply within 14 days after you issue them with a notice.
The notice must specify the violation and request a remedy. If the tenant doesn’t remedy the violation within this time, you can begin the eviction proceedings.
· 7 or 30-Day Notice for Expiry of the Lease
Tenants must either renew their leases or vacate the rental premises at the expiry of their lease term. If not, you may file an eviction lawsuit. There are, however, instances where there is no definite term in a rental agreement. In such cases, you may end a rental agreement after serving a 30-Day written notice.
You must serve a tenant a 7-Day written Notice if the tenant pays the rent weekly.
· An unconditional Quit Notice
You may serve a tenant an unconditional Quit Notice if the tenant has participated in an illegal activity on the rental property. Similar to other notices, an unconditional quit notice must inform the tenant of their violation.
But unlike others, this notice doesn’t offer tenants a chance to remedy their violations.
· Abandonment of the rental unit by the tenant
This isn’t considered an eviction. It is an abandonment of the property by the tenant. You can take back possession of the premises if there’s an unexplained absence of a tenant from the rental unit for a period of more than 15 days.
In most cases, the rent is unpaid.
Notice of Termination Without Cause
For termination without legal cause, you must wait until the expiry of the lease term to evict a tenant. A notice may or may not be necessary.
Here, you need to serve the tenant with a 30-Day Notice before filing a lawsuit. This notice must inform the tenant that they need to move out of the unit within 30 days or else face an eviction lawsuit.
Unlike a month-to-month tenancy, an eviction notice isn’t necessary. This is because the lease itself is clear about the length of time it’s effective. Since you don’t have a legal reason to evict a tenant, you must wait until the expiry of the lease.
How to Serve an Eviction Notice Under SC Eviction Laws
To avoid dismissal of your eviction notice, you must serve the tenant the eviction notice properly. The following are ways to serve them:
- Using a certified mail
- Using a process server
- Through personal service
If the tenant corrects the problem then you cannot evict them. If the tenant doesn’t, you may proceed to file an eviction lawsuit. The notice must:
- State the reason for eviction
- Name the personal and premises details
- Identify the tenant, and anyone else residing in the property
- Clarify that they forfeit any rights under the agreement if they don’t quit and surrender.
When the tenant fails to vacate the property, you may begin the eviction process. During the eviction proceedings, tenants have an opportunity to raise a defense. Common tenant defenses include:
- Landlord didn’t follow proper eviction procedures
- “Self-help” eviction was used
- Landlord discriminated against the tenant
Warrant of Ejection
In the event that the tenant fails to show up in court or their defenses fail, the court will issue you with a warrant of ejection. A deputy, sheriff or constable in South Carolina must serve the warrant of ejectment.
Stay of Execution
Tenants may appeal the decision of the court. In such a case, a court may grant a tenant a stay of execution. The court may also arrange how past due rent will be paid.
After the eviction of the tenant, you may discover that the tenant has left behind personal belongings. The SC eviction laws don’t require you to notify the tenant of your intention to dispose of their belongings. This is, however, assuming that the eviction notice clearly notified the tenant of your option to do so.
South Carolina landlords must follow specific rules and procedures when evicting a tenant. It’s illegal to use self-help methods. Examples of self-help methods include; changing locks, turning off the heat or electricity, or removing the front door.