The South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act was enacted to protect tenants and landlords. This law ensures that landlords and tenants of residential areas both owe the other party certain obligations. S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-440 lays out landlord obligations to maintain the premises. Before discussing a landlord’s obligations, it is important to note that a landlord may be relieved of the duties when agreed upon in the rental agreement.
First, South Carolina has defined several pertinent terms under S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-210. A dwelling unit is defined as the following: “a structure or the part of a structure that is used as a home, residence, or sleeping place by one person who maintains a household or by two or more persons who maintain a common household and includes landlord-owned mobile homes.” Premises has been defined as: “a dwelling unit and the structure of which it is a part and facilities and appurtenances therein and grounds, areas, and facilities held out for the use of tenants generally or whose use is promised to the tenant.” A landlord is, “the owner, lessor, or sublessor of the premises, and it also means a manager of the premises who fails to disclose as required by Section 27-40-420.” Other definitions, like “owner” and “tenant,” may be found under S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-210.
S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-440 is the basis for South Carolina landlord obligations. First, a landlord must comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety. For example, if a county’s housing code requires all residential dwellings to have a water heater of a certain size, then any water heater smaller than the required size may be deemed a landlord violation. Further, landlords are required to, “make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.” In this case, a pipe busts in a rented home, and the landlord is responsible for reasonably repairing the pipe and damage that has occurred because a busted pipe often makes the premises unfit for living. Additionally, a landlord must “keep all common areas of the premises in a reasonably safe condition, and, for premises containing more than four dwelling units, keep in a reasonably clean condition.” If there is a burst pipe in the mail room of an apartment complex, a landlord is likely required to fix the pipe and damage. A landlord likely holds an obligation in the burst pipe situation because the apartment complex likely houses more than four units, mail rooms are generally common areas, and burst pipes create unsafe conditions. Next, a landlord must, “make available running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat except where the building that includes the dwelling unit is not required by law to be equipped for that purpose, or the dwelling unit is so constructed that heat or hot water is generated by an installation within the exclusive control of the tenant and supplied by a direct public utility connection.” Therefore, a landlord of an apartment complex may not deny an entire apartment unit running hot water at all times. Lastly, a landlord must, “maintain in reasonably good and safe working order and condition all electrical, gas, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by him. Appliances present in the dwelling unit are presumed to be supplied by the landlord unless specifically excluded by the rental agreement. No appliances or facilities necessary to the provision of essential services may be excluded.” In the case a landlord refuses to fix one’s air conditioning in the middle of summer in South Carolina, a landlord may violate their obligations to their tenant. Further intricacies of South Carolina’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act may be found at the following: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t27c040.php.
If you are involved in a Residential Landlord-Tenant matter and need representation or simply have general questions, King Law’s team of attorneys in North and South Carolina are here to help you. Call us today at 888-748-KING(5464) to schedule a consultation.