South Carolina Security Deposit Laws

There are no limits on how much a landlord can charge as a security deposit in South Carolina, so long as it is reasonable and in the lease.
Written by Talullah Blanco
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Apr 04, 2022
South Carolina
Residential and Tenant Act does not limit how much a landlord can charge as a refundable security deposit as long as it is reasonable and in the lease agreement. Once you’ve moved out and returned the keys, the landlord will have 30 days to return your security deposit. 
If you are a renter then you’ve paid a security deposit and have probably fought to get it back after you hand over the keys. Because security deposit laws vary from state to state it is difficult to know your rights as a tenant and properly advocate for yourself. 
That’s why the
and renters insurance comparison app
is here to help you familiarize yourself with South Carolina’s security deposit laws. We’ll explain limits, what a landlord can deduct from your security deposit, and your options if they refuse to refund you.
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What is South Carolina law on security deposits?

Security deposits are paid by tenants to landlords to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of a lease agreement. If you do not receive your security deposit or only part of your security deposit when you move out, you can expect an itemized list of deductions.
Section 27-410 of the
South Carolina Residential and Tenant Act
establishes the rules and regulations surrounding security deposits including what a landlord can deduct, time frames for returns, and your options if they refuse to refund you.

What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can charge in South Carolina? 

There is no maximum limit on how much a landlord can charge as a security deposit so long as it is a reasonable amount compared to similar units and is stated in the lease agreement. However, landlords will usually charge between one and two months' rent as a security deposit in South Carolina.
If your landlord owns more than four adjoining properties (think apartment complex) and imposes different standards for calculating security deposits for each unit, they must indicate how security deposits are calculated and notify tenants before signing a lease in one of the following ways:
  • Post in a conspicuous place on the rental property
  • Post in a conspicuous place where the rent is paid
  • Provide prospective tenants with a statement that outlines the standards by which security deposits are calculated
Keep in mind that if you aren’t notified in one of the above ways then when you move out you are guaranteed the difference betweenyour security deposit and the lowest security deposit to a comparable unit.
Key Takeaway While there is no maximum limit a landlord can charge for a security deposit, it has to be a reasonable amount compared to similar units. 

How long does a landlord have to return a security deposit in South Carolina?

Your landlord will have 30 days to return your security deposit after you’ve moved out. During this time frame, the landlord will inspect the apartment for damages and confirm you fulfilled your tenant duties. 

What can a landlord withhold a security deposit for in South Carolina?

Landlords are legally permitted to withhold a portion or all of your security deposit to cover: 
  • Past due rent 
  • Cleaning and repair costs to return the apartment to the state you rented it in
  • Damage beyond ordinary wear and tear
But what constitutes damage beyond ordinary wear and tear? This is where it gets tricky and disputes arise. 
Damage beyond ordinary wear and tear is typically considered any deterioration beyond the expected that happens as a result of people living in a rental space. 
We’re talking about that hole in your wall from your couch when you rearranged your living room and missing smoke detectors that you removed and lost because you kept burning your food. 
You’ll get an itemized list of deductions to explain why your landlord withheld your security deposit and what it was spent on. 
Key Takeaway Your security deposit will help pay for cleaning and repair costs to return the apartment to the state you rented it in but it shouldn’t pay for normal wear and tear.
How to get your security deposit back in South Carolina
If you are still waiting on your security deposit after 30 days then you have two options to get your money back from your landlord. 
First, try to contact your landlord and request your security deposit in writing. It’s possible they forgot to send it or lost your new mailing address and will promptly return your security deposit.
You can also take your landlord to
small claims court
if they refuse to return your security deposit, won’t respond to your request, or you feel they’ve withheld more than you owe. While this process is time-consuming, it may be worth your while if you win–your landlord will be required to pay you three times the amount withheld and court fees

How to save money on car and renters insurance in South Carolina

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