Even before the COVID pandemic arrived, we believed that avoiding evictions was better business than pursuing them. With careful tenant screening and excellent tenant relationships, we rarely have to evict a tenant that we place in our Charleston rental properties.
The state of South Carolina has lifted the statewide eviction ban, but a federal moratorium is still in place and could be extended. There’s been some confusion in the courts and among landlords about what to do if a tenant isn’t paying rent due to the pandemic, and whether eviction is an option.
Let’s talk about evictions during COVID and how to manage an eviction in ordinary circumstances.
Eviction Moratorium and Tenant Relationships
The federal eviction moratorium only protects tenants who cannot pay rent because of the pandemic. They have to declare their financial predicament and they are still responsible for the unpaid rent that is due.
Evictions can still happen for reasons of lease violations, criminal activity, and if the lease term ends but the tenant does not move out.
If rent isn’t being paid, however, you’re going to have a difficult time removing your tenant until the moratorium is lifted.
Landlords who have had open communication and positive relationships with their tenants are likely able to work something out, even if tenants cannot pay the full rental amount. Payment arrangements should be explored. Maybe accept half the amount of rent that’s due until your tenant is able to pay the full amount again.
How to Evict a Charleston Tenant
Charleston has had one of the highest eviction rates in the U.S. for the last few years. That’s not a great record, and if you can work something out with your tenant to avoid the eviction process, you should.
Outside of the pandemic, if you need to evict a tenant and regain possession of your property, the process is fairly straightforward. Most evictions occur because rent is not paid. If this happens to you, you’ll want to reach out to your tenant as quickly as possible. Find out if it was just a moment of forgetfulness or if there’s something that’s preventing them from paying on time. Hopefully, you can work out some agreement as to when the rent will be fully collected.
Most lease agreements in Charleston have language included that’s a preemptory eviction notice for tenants who don’t pay rent. It allows landlords to file immediately when rent isn’t paid. The legal clause provides tenants a five-day grace period after rent is due. After that, the landlord can go to court.
If you don’t have such language in your lease agreement, you’ll need to serve a Five Day Notice after rent is late. This eviction notice must inform the tenant that they must pay the rent in full within five days or the lease will be terminated and the eviction will be filed in court.
Then, the landlord will go to the court and file for eviction.
To best protect your property and avoid the risk of eviction, work with a professional Charleston property management company. The knowledge and resources we provide gives owners the peace of mind they need to take care of their rental homes and their tenants in legally compliant ways. 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.