South Carolina Rent Control Laws in 2024

Introduction to South Carolina Rent Control Laws

Rent control laws in South Carolina aim to protect tenants from excessive rent increases by limiting how much and how often landlords can raise rents on rental properties. 

Unlike some states with rent control policies at the city or county level, South Carolina does not currently have any state rent control laws in effect. However, legislative efforts have been made to establish rent control measures to provide more stability for renters. 

The main proposal around rent control in South Carolina is the Rent Control Act, Bill 3264, introduced in 2021. While it has yet to be passed, if enacted, it would limit rent increases to 7% plus the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year. 

It would also require landlords to provide 90 days' notice before increasing rent on tenants after their first year of occupancy. Advocates argue this policy would help make rents more affordable and prevent price gouging, while opponents claim it would discourage the construction of new rental housing.

South Carolina joins most states that currently preempt cities and counties from enacting their own rent control laws. For now, landlords have broad discretion in setting and raising rents. 

However, tenants still need protection, as various landlord-tenant regulations related to security deposits, discrimination, habitability, and more exist. Understanding the patchwork of laws governing landlord-tenant relationships can empower renters and landlords to navigate their rights and responsibilities.

Rent Control Act Bill 3264

In 2022, Bill 3264 was introduced in the South Carolina legislature to establish rent control laws for the state. Known as the South Carolina Rent Control Act, this bill limits how much and how often landlords can raise rents if passed. 

The key provisions of Bill 3264 include:

  • Restricting rent increases to no more than 7% plus the 12-month Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year
  • Requiring landlords to give tenants 90 days written notice before increasing rent on a unit rented for more than one year
  • Limiting rent increases to just once per 12-month period
  • Allowing tenants to sue landlords for 3x the rent plus damages if an increase exceeds the limit
  • Exempting new construction built in the last 15 years and units receiving rental assistance 

Supporters of the bill say it will protect tenants from excessive rent hikes and prevent displacement. Opponents argue it will discourage the construction of new rental housing. The bill was referred to a committee in early 2022, and it is uncertain if it will eventually pass.

So far, no statewide rent control laws have been passed in South Carolina. But Bill 3264 signals growing political momentum around tenant protections. Its future passage could significantly impact renters' and landlords' rights.

Limits on Rent Increases in South Carolina

In South Carolina, landlords are prohibited from raising rents during the first year of a rental agreement. After the initial 12-month period, landlords may only raise rents once yearly, with 90 days' notice.  

The maximum allowable rent increase in South Carolina is 7% plus the 12-month Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all urban consumers in the South, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For example, if the CPI is 3%, landlords could raise rents by 10% (7% + 3% CPI).

Rent increases above the 7% + CPI limit are prohibited in South Carolina. Landlords who violate the rent control limits are liable for triple the amount of rent charged more than the legal limit, plus the tenant's legal fees.

Tenants who receive notice of a rent increase above the legal limit should notify their landlord in writing that the increase exceeds the allowable amount. If the landlord refuses to rescind the illegal increase, tenants may file a lawsuit to recover damages.

Required Notice Periods

South Carolina law has specific requirements for how much notice landlords must provide before increasing tenant rent. The amount of required notice depends on the type of rental agreement:

Week-to-Week Agreements

For week-to-week rental agreements that auto-renew each week, landlords must provide at least 7 days' written notice before increasing rent. This applies to short-term or month-to-month rental agreements without a fixed end date. 

Yearly Lease Agreements  

For leases with a fixed term of one year or longer, landlords must provide at least 90 days written notice before raising rent at the end of the lease term. This allows sufficient time for tenants to consider renewing the lease at a higher rate or seeking alternate housing.

The written notice must specify the increased amount the landlord intends to charge. Verbal notices are not valid.  

If a landlord fails to provide proper notice before raising the rent, tenants may have grounds to contest the increase. Tenants should carefully review their lease agreements and documentation to ensure proper notice periods are followed.

Frequency of Rent Increases in South Carolina

Under South Carolina law, landlords are restricted in how often they can raise tenant rents. Specifically:

  • Landlords cannot raise rents during the first year of a lease or rental agreement. Rents must remain the same as initially agreed upon for the full first 12 months.  
  • After the first year passes, landlords may only raise rents once per year. They must provide proper written notice before doing so (see Notice Required section).
  • Rent increases are limited to one time annually for all lease terms. It does not matter if the lease is month-to-month, 6 months, 1 year, or longer. Frequency is limited to a maximum of once every 12 months.
  • The 12 months are calculated from the date of the previous rent increase or the beginning of the tenancy if no increase has happened. 
  • There are no exceptions that allow landlords to raise rents more than once per year in South Carolina. Local city and county laws also prohibit increases more than annually.

If a landlord attempts to raise the rent twice within a 12-month period, they are in violation of state rent control laws. Tenants have legal recourse in this situation (see Penalties section).

In summary, South Carolina statutes expressly forbid landlords from raising rents more than once every 12 months after the first year of a lease or rental agreement. This frequency limit provides essential protections for tenants against excessive increases.

Penalties for Violating Rent Control in South Carolina 

Landlords in South Carolina face severe penalties if they improperly raise rents beyond the legal limits. The proposed Rent Control Act contains provisions to punish landlords who violate rent increase restrictions.

If a landlord imposes an illegal rent increase exceeding the 7% plus CPI limit, the tenant can sue for damages. The law allows tenants to recover up to three times the monthly rent in damages if the landlord violates rent control.

For example, if a tenant is paying $1000 in rent, and their landlord illegally raises it by 15%, to $1150, the tenant can sue to recover $3000 (3 times the original $1000 rent). This serves as a deterrent to prevent landlords from imposing excessive hikes.

The law also allows tenants to recover court costs and attorney fees for any legal action over prohibited rent increases. So, landlords can face additional monetary penalties in addition to the damages.

The Rent Control Act clarifies that landlords are liable for financial penalties for not following proper procedures and limitations on raising rents. Tenants have legal recourse if their landlord imposes an increase exceeding South Carolina's rent control laws.

The threat of damages, legal fees, and multiplied rent payments gives tenants leverage in negotiating rent increases. It motivates for landlords to keep increases reasonable and follow rent control regulations.

Exemptions to Rent Control in South Carolina

South Carolina's rent control laws contain a few key exemptions where landlords can raise rents without the typical restrictions:

New Construction Exemption

Any rental units constructed within the last 15 years are exempt from rent control laws in South Carolina. This allows landlords and developers to freely set rental rates on new apartment buildings and housing units based on market factors. The exemption lasts for 15 years from the date of the initial certificate of occupancy. After 15 years, the standard rent control rules would apply.

Rental Assistance Exemption 

Suppose a rental unit receives a federal, state, or local subsidy or funding assistance like Section 8 vouchers, low-income housing tax credits, grants, or loans. In that case, the landlord is not subject to rent control restrictions. This allows landlords who accept rental assistance programs and reduced rents from qualifying tenants to raise the rents to market rate when the assisted tenant moves out.

The exemptions for new construction and rental assistance aim to encourage and reward landlords and developers who expand affordable rental stock. Exempting these units from rent control, there is an incentive to participate in housing programs and build new inventory.

Important Landlord-Tenant Laws in South Carolina

South Carolina has additional important landlord-tenant laws that both renters and landlords should be aware of:

Security Deposits

  • Landlords can charge a security deposit up to 1 month's rent for unfurnished units, and up to 1.5 month's rent for furnished units. 
  • Deposits must be held in a separate escrow account.
  • Landlords have 30 days after a tenant moves out to return the deposit with an itemized list of any deductions.
  • Tenants can recover double the amount wrongly withheld plus attorneys fees if they take the landlord to court over the deposit.


  • Landlords cannot refuse to rent, charge higher rent, or treat tenants differently based on race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.  
  • Tenants who experience housing discrimination can file a complaint with the SC Human Affairs Commission.


  • Landlords must give tenants written notice of termination before beginning the eviction process. This is typically 3-30 days, depending on the reason.
  • After proper notice, the landlord can file for eviction with the magistrate court if the tenant does not vacate.
  • Tenants have 10 days to respond once served with the eviction lawsuit.
  • If the judge rules for the landlord, the tenant has 10 days to appeal or vacate before the sheriff can remove them.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much can a landlord raise rent in SC?

In South Carolina, landlords are limited to raising rent by 7% plus the Consumer Price Index annually after the first year of tenancy. Proper notice of 90 days must also be provided for rent increases.

What can't a landlord do in South Carolina?

South Carolina landlords cannot:

  1. Raise rent during the first year of a lease or rental agreement
  2. Raise rent without providing proper notice - 90 days notice is required 
  3. Increase rent by more than 7% plus CPI each year 

What is the South Carolina Tenant Protection Act?

The South Carolina Tenant Protection Act is proposed legislation in the state legislature as Bill 3264. If passed, it would limit rent increases to 7% plus CPI each year and require 90 days' notice for any increases after the first year of tenancy.

What is the maximum rent increase allowed? 

South Carolina does not currently limit rent increases. However, the proposed legislation would cap increases at 7% plus the Consumer Price Index annually after the first year with proper notice.

How much notice is required for a rent increase in South Carolina?

For rent increases after the first year of tenancy, South Carolina landlords must provide 90 days written notice to tenants. Details of the increase must be included.


South Carolina currently has limited rent control laws compared to many other states. Landlords have a lot of leeway to raise rents with proper notice after the first year. While proposed legislation like the SC Tenant Protection Act aims to restrict rent increases, no major reforms have passed so far. 

In summary, rent control in South Carolina mainly consists of:

  • No rent increases allowed in the first year 
  • After that, landlords can raise rent annually with 90 days notice
  • Maximum increase is 7% plus the Consumer Price Index
  • Tenants must receive written details of any rent increase
  • Landlords face penalties for violating notice periods or increase limits
  • Some units are exempt like new construction and subsidized housing

South Carolina tenants do have protections against discrimination, limits on security deposits, required notice of entry, and an eviction process landlords must follow. But rent control itself remains minimal. Renters should understand their rights and stay informed on any new proposals to limit rent increases.

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