South Carolina Tenant Screening
Last Updated: February 5, 2015
South Carolina has historically had a weak executive branch and a strong legislature. Before 1865, governors in South Carolina were appointed by the General Assembly, and held the title “President of State.” The 1865 Constitution changed this process, requiring a popular election. Local governments were also weak. But, the 1867 Constitution, passed during the Reconstruction era, extended democratization by establishing home rule for counties, which were established from the former designated districts of the state.
How to Screen a Tenant in South Carolina
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Step 1: Know Your Rights & Responsibilities
Landlords and property managers are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF] (FCRA) during the tenant screening process. Additionally, South Carolina has laws that affect the tenant screening process. You can find the current South Carolina Housing Codes on the South Carolina State Legislature website. If you are finding the formalities of the state code daunting, you might want to check out these friendlier sites:
- Overview of Landlord-Tenant Laws in South Carolina
- South Carolina Bar – Rights And Duties Of Landlord
Recent Law Changes
New property tax law offers benefits to those in the military. Many South Carolinians have been unpleasantly surprised to learn that their property tax bills can triple if they move and then rent out their former primary residence. For many in the military, that situation now has been changed, making it easier and more profitable for active members of the armed forces to rent a property out while they are serving elsewhere. The new rules were signed by Gov. Nikki Haley in March 2014, following the Legislature’s approval of bill H. 3027. Now, certain members of the military can get preferential property tax treatment that’s not available to others. A brief description of the provisions.
Step 2: Required Forms & Disclosures
Tip: before you rent for the first time, consider hiring a lawyer to review all of the documents you will use during the application and rental process to ensure that you are protected to the fullest extent of the law.
- Rental Application [PDF] (this must be completed in full by the applicant prior to screening)
- Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act [PDF]
- Consumer Report Disclosure [PDF]
If you are ACCEPTING an applicant:
- Move-In Checklist [PDF]
- Lease Agreement (written), containing or attaching the following information:
- Owner/Agent Identity – this should include name and address, and if the owner/agent is out-of-state it must include contact information for a resident of the COUNTY in which the rental is located that can act as an agent for the purposes of serving notices and process.
- Security Deposit – this must include the amount of the deposit and the conditions under which some or all of the deposit may be withheld. It must also include the name and banking institution holding the deposit.
- Non-refundable Fees – explicitly describe any non-refundable fees, and state clearly that they are non-refundable.
- Fire Protection & Safety Information: You must disclose the available fire protection and safety information specific to the unit you are renting, including smoking policy, evacuation plans, and who to notify in case of emergency.
- Owner Or Agent Identity: South Carolina landlords must disclose to the tenant in writing at or before the commencement of the tenancy the name and address of the person authorized to manage the premises, and an owner of the premises or a person authorized to act for and on behalf of the owner for the purpose of service of process and for the purpose of receiving notices and demands. (S.C. Code Ann. 27-40-420)
- Unequal Security Deposits: In South Carolina, if the landlord rents five or more adjoining units on the premises, and imposes different standards for calculating deposits required of tenants, landlord must, before a tenancy begins, post in a conspicuous place a statement explaining the standards by which the various deposits are calculated (or, landlord may give the tenant the written statement). (S.C. Code Ann. 27-40-420)
If you are DECLINING an applicant:
- Adverse Action Notice [PDF]
Step 3: Order a Tenant Screening Report
What You’ll Need
- A completed rental application signed by the applicant.
- Some details about your applicant:
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Previous address
- Bank account number (optional)
- Bank routing number (optional)
What Will Be Covered
- Package Options
- Background Report Coverage for South Carolina:
- Criminal, OFAC/Patriot Act & Sex Offender Records – A nationwide search is always performed. These jurisdictions specifically are available in South Carolina: Abbeville County Circuit Court, Abbeville County Summary Court, Aiken County Circuit Court, Aiken County Summary Dockets, Allendale County Circuit Court, Allendale County Summary Dockets, Anderson County Circuit Court, Anderson County Sheriffs Office, Anderson County Summary Dockets, Bamberg County Circuit Court, Bamberg County Summary Court, Barnwell County Circuit Court, Barnwell County Summary Court, Beaufort County Circuit Court, Beaufort County Summary Dockets, Berkeley County Circuit Court, Berkeley County Summary Dockets, Calhoun County Circuit Court, Calhoun County Summary Dockets, Charleston County Circuit Court, Charleston County Summary Dockets, Cherokee County Circuit Court, Cherokee County Summary Dockets, Chester County Circuit Court, Chester County Sheriffs Office, Chester County Summary Dockets, Chesterfield County Circuit Court, Chesterfield County Summary Court, Clarendon County Circuit Court, Clarendon County Summary Dockets, Colleton County Circuit Court, Colleton County Summary Dockets, Darlington County Circuit Court, Darlington County Summary Court, SC Department Of Probation Parole And Pardon, SC Department Of Corrections, Dillon County Circuit Court, Dillon County Summary Dockets, Dorchester County Circuit Court, Dorchester County Summary Dockets, Edgefield County Circuit Court, Edgefield County Summary Dockets, SC Excluded Providers, Fairfield County Circuit Court, Fairfield County Summary Dockets, Florence County Circuit Court, Florence County Summary Dockets, Georgetown County Circuit Court, Georgetown County Summary Dockets, Greenville County Circuit Court, Greenville County Summary Dockets, Greenwood County Circuit Court, Greenwood County Summary Dockets, Hampton County Circuit Court, Hampton County Summary Dockets, Horry County Circuit Court, Horry County Summary Dockets, Jasper County Circuit Court, Jasper County Summary Dockets, Kershaw County Circuit Court, Kershaw County Summary Dockets, Lancaster County Circuit Court, Lancaster County Summary Dockets, Laurens County Circuit Court, Laurens County Summary Dockets, Lee County Circuit Court, Lee County Summary Court, Lexington County Circuit Court, Lexington County Summary Dockets, Marion County Circuit Court, Marion County Summary Dockets, Marlboro Circuit Court, Marlboro Summary Court, McCormick County Circuit Court, McCormick County Summary Dockets, Newberry Circuit Court, Newberry County Summary Dockets, Oconee County Circuit Court, Oconee County Summary Dockets, Orangeburg County Circuit Court, Orangeburg County Summary Dockets, Pickens County Circuit Court, Pickens County Summary Courts, Richland County Circuit Court, Richland County Summary Dockets, Saluda County Circuit Court, Saluda County Summary Court, SC Sex Offender Registry, Spartanburg County Circuit Court, Spartanburg County Summary Dockets, Sumter County Circuit Court, Sumter County Summary Dockets, Union County Circuit Court, Union County Summary Court, Williamsburg County Circuit Court, Williamsburg County Summary Court, York County Circuit Court, York County Summary Court.
- Eviction Records – records are available from the following counties: Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Andserson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, Greenwood, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, Mc Cormick, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg, York.
- Bankruptcies, Liens & Judgments – records are available from the following counties: Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Cherokee, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, Greenwood, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Marlboro, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg, York.
- Social Security Number validation, Death Index, credit checks, previous addresses, alias names, and the Rent Check Advisor® include all information available regardless of location.
Resources for South Carolina Landlords
- South Carolina State Bar Association Lawyer Referral
- South Carolina Courts Directory
- Law Enforcement Agencies in South Carolina (Wikipedia)