Landlord-tenant laws in South Carolina offer certain protections and remedies to both the landlord and the tenant in the event that a lease agreement is broken or mishandled. The law provides that a lease should clearly spell out the terms of the agreement between landlord and tenant, especially pertaining to the topics of rent due dates, late fees, and landlord remedies for a tenant's failure to pay rent on time. Excessive late fees, though not directly limited by a set number or percentage of rent, are not legal in the state of South Carolina.
Paying Rent On Time
Rent is due on the date that is clearly specified on a lease agreement. Typically, rent is due on the first of the month, but this date may vary depending on the agreement that was made between the landlord and the tenant when the lease was signed. Failure to pay rent on time, which is the actual day that is specified on the lease, may result in the landlord pursuing a late fee if the lease agreement provides an addendum or disclosure pertaining to late charges for past-due rent.
Some lease agreements provide a grace period to allow tenants additional time to pay the rent without incurring a late fee. If no grace period is specified on the lease, the typical grace period respected by the courts is a minimum of three days. Failure to pay rent within the grace period will most certainly result in a late fee, but such a fee may not be excessive if it's to stay within the law.
Excessive Late Fees
Excessive late fees are those that are considered unreasonable by the court. The state of South Carolina does not provide specific detailed law on late fees, which leaves the question of excessive fees rather vague. Generally, excessive would be considered any amount over 10 percent of the total rent, but the law does not clearly dictate that number or percentage.
Landlord Remedies for Failure to Pay
Failure to pay the rent on time and subsequent failure to pay the imposed late fee, provided such fee is not excessive, places the tenant in an immediate breach of the lease contract. Landlords have the right to pursue an eviction if the tenant has failed to pay the rent or the late fees that were agreed upon in the lease agreement. According to South Carolina law, landlords must provide the tenant with at least five days’ written notice to pay the rent of move prior to filing for eviction.
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