Understanding the local, state, and federal laws that regulate rental properties can be complex and challenging. It’s easy to make an expensive legal mistake, and you don’t want to find yourself trying to recover from an error that could have been prevented.
As professional property managers, we stay up to date on all the laws and how they impact your property. Make sure you’re either aware of the laws and staying current or working with a Charleston property management company that can keep you and your property compliant and out of trouble.
These are some of the most important laws to know.
Federal Fair Housing and Anti-Discrimination Laws
The most important laws that any rental property owner must follow are fair housing laws. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits any type of discrimination against tenants and applicants based on color, physical or mental disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, and familial status.
While this might seem easy, it’s also easy to unintentionally discriminate against people by choosing the wrong words in your marketing materials or holding one applicant to higher standards than another. Make sure everything in your marketing, screening, and leasing process is consistent and well-documented. You don’t want to appear that you’re favoring one group of tenants over another.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is also an important federal law to know. The law requires you to make reasonable accommodations for tenants who have disabilities, and today this is most commonly applied to service animals and companion animals. You have to know the difference between a pet and a service animal. You have to know the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal. If you don’t, there could be legal consequences and financial penalties.
Charleston Security Deposit Laws
Security deposit laws vary from state to state. The South Carolina Landlord Tenant Law does not limit how much you can collect in a security deposit. We recommend you collect the equivalent of one month’s rent. If you ask for too much, you’ll dissuade good tenants from renting your home. If you ask for too little, you might have to pay for damages left behind.
There are legal timelines for when the security deposit must be returned to the tenant. You have to send it back within 30 days of the tenant moving out. If you withhold all or some of the deposit, you’re legally required to send the tenants an itemized list within those 30 days.
Strict penalties come with security deposit mistakes. If you miss the 30-day deadline or a judge finds that you made unlawful deductions from that deposit, the tenant may be entitled to three times the amount of the deposit plus reasonable attorney’s fees.
Rent Collection and Eviction
State law regulates grace periods for overdue rent. Your tenant has five days to pay the overdue rent or vacate the property before a landlord in Charleston can file for eviction. Tenants also have the right to withhold rent or to make their own repairs and deduct the cost if you fail to take care of habitability issues.
These are only a handful of the laws you need to be aware of when you’re renting out a Charleston property. Make sure you’re protected. Contact us at Meridian Residential Group for more information.
Meridian Residential Group in North Charleston provides both single-family and multi-family property management in the Charleston, SC area, including in North Charleston, Summerville, Goose Creek, and Moncks Corner, among other cities.