South Carolina Eviction Guide - Non Payment Eviction

The fear that a tenant will stop paying rent is one of the biggest reasons many people don’t want to get into real estate. The good thing is that if you screen your tenants properly then this should be a very rare occurrence. Thankfully, South Carolina is fair to landlords and if a tenant does not pay rent then they can be removed from your property rather quickly. Contrast this with states in the northeast and west coast where evictions can take months. 

Even though evictions are a rare occurrence it is still good to be knowledgeable about the process. So without further ado, here is how to evict a tenant in your Bluffton/ Hilton Head rental property for non-payment of rent.

What are the typical reasons for an eviction in South Carolina?

The vast majority of evictions are usually due to non-payment of rent. According to an study, 77.3% of evictions across the nation are due to this. Occasionally evictions due to constant HOA rule violations, or lack of maintaining the property occur, but these evictions are very infrequent. 

What is the eviction process in South Carolina for non-payment of rent?

Step 1: The Grace Period

The first step of eviction for non-payment is to try to avoid an eviction in the first place. You can put in your lease in bold lettering that if the tenant does not pay within the 5-day grace period then you will start the eviction process without any further notice, but it would be best to charge a late fee and give them a few more days to pay as filing for an eviction costs time and money and you don’t want to pay for an eviction just for your tenant to pay you a day later. However, if after another 5 days you do not receive the rent then the eviction process should begin as there is a good chance that your tenant will not be paying.

Step 2 : Post the 5 day pay-or-quit notice

The process starts with serving a 5 day pay-or-quit notice. This form can be found here. The notice should be hand delivered, but if the tenant does not answer the door you can post the notice on the door and take a picture as proof of posting. If you have language in your lease as mentioned above about the eviction process starting as soon as rent is late then this step is not required.

Step 3 : Fill out the eviction forms

If after three days the tenant still has not paid then you can go to a Beaufort County courthouse, such as the Bluffton Magistrate Court and file for eviction.

You must bring:

  • a copy of a valid written lease or rental agreement
  • bank statements showing that the tenant has not paid rent. 

Eviction procedure + form + fee here.

Beaufort County courthouse website here.

You will be directed to fill out the eviction forms, pay the filing fee, and a court date will be set before you leave. The sheriff will notify the tenant that they are due in court on that date.

Step 4 : Court hearing and Judgment

On the day of the hearing bring the signed lease, bank statements, and any other proof you have to backup your case. The judge will listen to both sides, but no matter what excuse the tenant has if they did not pay rent then the judge should rule in your favor. The judge will then serve a Writ of Ejectment that the sheriff will deliver to the tenant within three days. This writ notifies the tenant that they have 24 hours to vacate the property.

Having a signed copy of the lease, proof that no rent has been paid, and proof that a 5-day pay or quit notice has been served are important items to bring with you to court. Not having these items can cause the judge to rule against you, possibly forcing you to restart the eviction process.

Step 5: The eviction of the tenant

The sheriff will arrive 24 hours later to check on the property and make sure it is clear. If the evicted tenant still has not left then the sheriff will remove the tenant, and at this point you can begin moving items out of the house. You may have to hire a moving crew for this. Note that every development has their own rules on where this furniture can be placed so you will have to call the HOA and ask. Usually all items must be placed on the curb next to the mailbox. Once the items are out of the house you will want to have the locks changed. The evicted tenant has 48 hours to pick up their items. If they do not do this then you will have to remove the items and take them to the dump.

You will be able to bill the evicted tenant for all costs associated with the eviction such as court fees, overdue rent, repairs and furniture removal fees. The security deposit will cover part of this and anything in excess of this the evicted tenant must pay. However, as the old saying goes: You can not get blood from a stone. If a tenant hasn’t paid rent it most likely means they probably won’t pay these bills. You can send these bills to a collection agency and this will show on the tenant’s credit report so future landlords will be aware of what occurred.

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