A South Carolina rental application is essential for property owners looking to rent their property. It enables landlords to gather crucial information, such as eviction history, rental history, and financial details, from each applicant before entering into a lease agreement.
- Application Fee: Per § 27-40-410, there is no limit to the maximum fee that a landlord can charge. However, property managers and owners should charge a reasonable amount to cover the costs of processing the application and avoid charging exorbitant fees. Otherwise, they may have difficulty finding someone to rent the property.
- Security Deposits: State law does not put a cap or maximum on a security deposit or pet deposit that a landlord can charge. However, cities and counties can impose their caps on security deposits. At the end of the lease, landlords must return the security deposit but can deduct any accrued rent and damages to the property caused by the tenant. Any deductions taken from the security deposit must be itemized by the landlord and sent to the tenant.
Property managers and landlords are prohibited from asking specific questions per the Federal Fair Housing Act and the South Carolina Fair Housing Law  .
Under these laws, property owners are not allowed to ask about the following:
- Race, color, or national origin of the applicant
- The religious beliefs of the applicant
- Whether the applicant is married or has children
- Whether the applicant has a disability
- The sexual orientation or gender identity of the applicant
On the other hand, if the owner lives on the property, the building has four dwellings or fewer, and the owner represents themself during the leasing process, the owner may be exempt from specific FHA laws under the Mrs. Murphy exemption.
Even with these exemptions, landlords may never use race as a deciding factor for approval or denial.
- Sex Offender Registry: landlords can check the state’s sex offender registry to be aware of any registered sex offenders applying as tenants.
- Fair Housing Laws: landlords must adhere to the state’s Fair Housing laws, prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, familial status, or source of income.