South Carolina Tenant Eviction Procedures

By George Lawrence

Cause for Eviction

Before a landlord can initiate formal eviction procedures against a tenant, the tenant must have done some act that justifies the eviction proceedings. In South Carolina, cause for an eviction exists in the following circumstances: (1) the tenant has failed to pay rent; (2) the tenant has breached a material provision in the rental agreement; (3) the tenant has failed to maintain the rental unit in a safe and sanitary manner; (4) the tenant has abandoned the rental unit prior to the expiration of the lease; and (5) the tenant has remained in the rental unit beyond the expiration of the lease. If one of these causes exists, the landlord may initiate formal eviction procedures against the tenant. The eviction procedures can seek rent owed, possession of the rental unit or both rent and possession.

Notice Must Be Given

The landlord must provide the tenant with notice of his or her intent to initiate formal eviction proceedings. The notice must state the grounds for eviction and must allow the tenant a reasonable time to respond. For example, if the tenant has not paid the rent, which is the most common ground for eviction, the landlord must give the tenant notice of his or her intent to evict the tenant for failure to pay rent. After notice is given, the landlord must wait five days before proceeding further. During those five days, the tenant may pay the unpaid rent. If the tenant pays the rent within this time frame, the eviction proceedings cannot continue. If, after the five days have passed, no rent has been paid, the landlord may proceed to the next step.

Filing Ejectment Action

After notice has been given and the tenant has failed to cure the reason for the eviction proceedings, the landlord may file an ejectment action in the magistrate court of the county where the rental unit is located. The landlord must provide the court with an affidavit stating the reasons for the action. A filing fee must also be paid; the fees differ from county to county. The court will then schedule a hearing date and issue the landlord an Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause must be served on the tenant. Upon service of this order, the tenant is required to appear at the magistrate court and show cause as to why the landlord should not be entitled to either the rent or possession of the property. If the tenant cannot show cause, the landlord should move for the court to issue a Writ of Ejectment.

Writ of Ejectment

The Writ of Ejectment is the formal order by the court stating that the landlord is entitled to possession of the property. Upon its issuance, the tenant has 24 hours to vacate the property voluntarily. If the tenant does not vacate the property voluntarily, the landlord is entitled to forcibly remove the tenant and the tenant's possessions under supervision of the county constable.

If the landlord has to forcibly remove the tenant, the landlord is responsible for properly removing the tenant's property; the court will not assist the landlord in doing so. Therefore, the landlord must provide all the labor and help necessary to remove the property and must set the property out by the side of the road or near the dumpster to be removed by the tenant or the municipal trash authority in South Carolina.

After executing the Writ of Ejectment, the tenant is no longer allowed to be on the property and the landlord is entitled to rent the property out to a new tenant.

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