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Renting : Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Renting : Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Renting : Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center

2 South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center is dedicated to advocacy for low- income people in South Carolina and effecting systemic change by acting in and through the courts, the legislature, administrative agencies, communities and the media. We help others do the same through education, training and co-counseling. To find out more about us, please visit on the Internet.

3 For Informational Purposes ONLY! This presentation is just for informational purposes. If you feel you need to speak with an attorney, you have a few options: o South Carolina Bar Referral Service Serves the General Public Contact: o Call South Carolina Legal Services Serves the low income community LATIS:

4 Landlord and Tenant Law in South Carolina

5 The South Carolina Residential Landlord-Tenant Act protects landlords and tenants in most residential leases. If you live in government assisted housing, you may have even more protection under the law.

6 The Basics LeasesWhat is required of the TENANTWhat is required of the LANDLORDSecurity DepositsWhat to do when things go WRONG Repairs Late payments Evictions Damage to the apartment

7 Leases A LEASE is a CONTRACT between you and the landlord. The lease should inform both the landlord and the tenant what is to be expected from both parties for the duration of the agreement. Like any other type of contract, a lease can be enforced in court. When you sign the lease, you are agreeing to do everything it says in the lease. If you violate that agreement, the landlord can take you to court to enforce that agreement.

8 Leases Is a Written Lease Required? NO - In South Carolina, the law does not require that a lease be in writing, but it is smart to have one. Always keep a copy of the signed lease for your records

9 Leases What happens if I have signed the lease but the landlord did not? o If the landlord accepts a rent payment from you, it is the same as if he or she signed the lease What if the landlord signed the lease but I never signed the lease? o If you have paid rent and taken possession of the apartment, it is the same as if you had signed the lease yourself.

10 Signing the Lease When you read the lease, there may be some things in it that you do not understand. If you don’t understand something in a lease, ask a lawyer or someone you trust to explain it to you. Do not rely on the landlord to explain something in the lease to you. The landlord may not be honest with you or may not explain it fully, or the landlord might not know the answer.

11 Signing the Lease The amount of rent and when it is due Late fees and how they are calculated How long the lease lasts Whether you have to pay a security deposit and how much the security deposit is What, if any, utilities are included in the rent The Landlord’s rules about pets and whether you have to pay a fee or deposit to have a pet There are certain things you need to make sure you understand before you sign a lease

12 Moving In Checklist- Before you move into the apartment or house, you want to make sure that you know the condition of the place before you move in. It is a good idea to walk through with your landlord and do a written move-in checklist that shows what damage was in the apartment before you moved in. There are plenty of templates available online You do not want to be blamed for the damage done by the previous tenant!

13 Moving In The move-in “checklist” should be signed by both you and the landlord. You should keep a copy of the checklist with your lease. If you can, you should also take pictures of the apartment right before you move in so you can prove what damage was there when you moved in.

14 There are some basic rules that all tenants must follow: o Pay your rent on time o Keep the place SAFE and CLEAN o Dispose of trash and waste from your apartment or house in a clean and safe manner o Keep plumbing fixtures clean o Use the facilities and appliances in a reasonable manner o Do not damage the place or allow your guests to do so o Do not allow any illegal activity in the apartment or house o Do not disturb your neighbors or allow your guests to do so o Follow the lease, rules, and regulations, which may have additional rules not listed here Being a Good Tenant

15 Landlord Obligations Keep the place in good condition, including: Follow housing and building safety codes affecting health and safety Make repairs on time Keep common areas (like laundry rooms) reasonably safe Make sure that plumbing, heat, air, gas, etc. is working properly Landlords MUST:

16 Repairs The landlord is required to “make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition” This includes: electrical, gas, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and other appliances supplied by the landlord

17 Repairs If you need the landlord to make a repair, put it in writing and indicate that if the repairs have not been made the rental agreement will terminate at a date no sooner than 14 days after receipt of notice Important : The law gives the landlord14 days after you provide written notice to make or begin repairs If the repairs have been started but take more than 14 days to complete, the lease is not breached unless the Landlord fails to pursue the repairs in good faith within a reasonable time.

18 Repairs If the tenant, a member of his or her family, or the tenant’s guest caused the damage, the tenant cannot terminate the lease agreement. If the rental agreement is terminated because the landlord has failed to make repairs, the landlord shall return to the tenant any amounts of the security deposit due to the tenant.

19 When can TENANT end the Lease? Through normal ending of the lease o Written notice of termination of lease with at least one term’s notice If lease is week-to-week: One week’s notice If lease is month-to month: One month’s notice If Landlord does not follow lease, for example: Refusing to make repairs or breaching the lease in a way that affects your healthy and safety or the physical condition of the unit o Tenant must give 14 days notice to Landlord – In writing o Landlord has the opportunity to make repairs during the 14 days

20 When can the Landlord end my Lease? Through normal ending of the lease Written notice of termination of lease with at least one term’s notice If lease is week-to-week: One week’s notice (the “term” is one week) If lease is month-to month: One month’s notice (the “term” is one month)

21 When can the Landlord end my Lease? If you do not do what your lease says, such as: Abandoning the Unit: Abandoning the rental unit: If there is an unexplained absence by the Tenant for 15 days after a failure to pay rent If the Tenant has let the utilities be cut off and there is an unexplained absence after failure to pay rent, the 15-day rule does not apply

22 When can the Landlord end my lease? Not paying your rent on time 5 day notice of nonpayment Your landlord must give written notice of nonpayment and his/her intent to terminate the rental agreement if rent is not paid during the five day period. LOOK at your lease: if this notice is already part of the written rental agreement, no other notice is necessary You only get this notice once

23 Example: The written notice provision is satisfied if there is the following (or substantially similar) language in the lease: IF YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR RENT ON TIME: This is your notice. If you do not pay your rent within five days of the due date, the landlord can start to have you evicted. You will get no other notice as long as you live in this rental unit.

24 Security Deposits o When the lease ends the security deposit must be returned to the Tenant minus any amount held for rent and damages due to Tenant’s noncompliance with the lease within 30 DAYS o The Tenant must provide the Landlord in writing with a forwarding address for security deposit return o The Landlord must provide Tenant with an itemized damage list o Normal wear and tear does not come out of the security deposit

25 Security Deposits PROTECT YOURSELF! It bears repeating! Prior to moving in, make sure both you and the landlord do a move-in checklist that shows what damage was in the apartment before you move in. This is important because you do not want to be blamed for any damage that you did not do. Both you and the landlord should sign this checklist. Be sure to keep it with your lease in a safe place. Remember: If possible, take photographs of the apartment before you move in, being sure to note any areas where there was previous damage, stains, etc. PROTECT YOURSELF! It bears repeating! Prior to moving in, make sure both you and the landlord do a move-in checklist that shows what damage was in the apartment before you move in. This is important because you do not want to be blamed for any damage that you did not do. Both you and the landlord should sign this checklist. Be sure to keep it with your lease in a safe place. Remember: If possible, take photographs of the apartment before you move in, being sure to note any areas where there was previous damage, stains, etc.

26 Security Deposits If the landlord fails to return to the tenant the security deposit with the itemized notice for money withheld, a tenant may be able to recover up to three times the amount wrongfully withheld and can also recover reasonable attorney fees.

27 Evictions Remember, if you receive an eviction notice from your landlord, you should call a lawyer immediately. You have only ten (10) days from the date that you received the eviction notice to file a response with the court. Your landlord MUST file in court to have you legally evicted. Your landlord cannot change the locks, turn off the power, or put your personal property outside.

28 Landlords CANNOT abuse their right of access Access without your consent is only allowed: In the case of an emergency Between 9AM-6PM for regularly scheduled services IF clearly stated in rental agreement and if the Landlord announces the intent to do so prior to entering Between 8AM-9PM to provide services requested by the Tenant, and if the Landlord announces the intent to do so prior to entering.

29 A few words about Fair Housing Laws Federal and state law says that a landlord cannot treat you differently or refuse to rent to you because of your: - RACE- Color - Gender- Religion - National Origin- Disability - Familial Status (pregnancy/children in the home)

30 Housing Discrimination Sex Discrimination : can happen to both men and women How do you know if someone is discriminating against you because of your sex? o The landlord offers you a lower rent in exchange for sex o The landlord will not fix your apartment unless you have sex with them o The landlord threatens to evict you if you do not agree to have sex o Tries to evict you from Public Housing because you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking

31 To file a Housing Discrimination Complaint: South Carolina Human Affairs Commission Call Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): Call or

32 Foreclosures In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Protecting Tenants at Foreclose Act If the owner of your apartment or house is foreclosed on while you are living in the apartment, you have certain rights as a tenant. If you have a lease, the new owner must abide by your lease (with an exception for an owner-occupation). If your lease is month to month or less than 90 days remain, you are given 90-days once the new owner has given you notice that he/she wants to terminate the rental.

33 Let’s Review! What is a security deposit? It is the tenant’s money or property held by the landlord in case there are damages to the unit or the tenant doesn’t pay rent How do I get my deposit back when I move? Ask for your deposit and give the landlord your new address in writing

34 Let’s Review! What does the landlord have to provide you with if he or she does not return your full deposit? The landlord must provide an itemized list showing what has been taken from your deposit and why How long does the landlord have to return the deposit? The landlord has 30 days after you move out or after you ask for it back, whichever is later

35 Let’s Review! What do I do if the my stove stops working? The landlord must keep all appliances that came with the apartment in reasonably good and safe working order. Tell your landlord. It is best to inform your landlord in writing. What happens if the hot water heater stops working and the landlord refuses to fix it? If you have informed your landlord in writing that he or she has 14 days to make repairs or you are terminating the lease, you can move and will no longer owe him or her any more rent.

36 Let’s Review I came home from the store and my landlord was in my house. Can they do that? Your landlord cannot be in your house without notifying you unless there is an emergency. Some examples of an emergency would be a fire or if there were broken pipes. If it is a non-emergency, the landlord usually must give you 24 hours notice and can only enter between 9AM-6PM

37 For Informational Purposes ONLY! This presentation is just for informational purposes. If you feel you need to speak with an attorney, you have a few options: o South Carolina Bar Referral Service Serves the General Public Contact: o Call South Carolina Legal Services Serves the low income community LATIS:


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