Kelsey Brudvig is a shareholder at Collins & Lacy law firm practicing in the areas of retail and hospitality law and professional liability. She defends national and regional leaders in the retail hospitality and entertainment sectors who are doing business in South Carolina. Today, she brings us the latest information on the state of eviction law in the state of South Carolina.
The President signed the most recent stimulus bill which extends the federal moratorium on evictions until January 31st. This is in regards to the Federal moratorium on evictions. The language of the Federal moratorium differs from the current law in South Carolina. The State moratorium was lifted in May 2020 by Order of the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. It is unclear if the Federal Moratorium will be extended by subsequent legislative action past January 31, 2021.
When the federal moratorium was initially issued back in March 2020, the state of South Carolina also issued a state moratorium putting a ban on evictions. The South Carolina moratorium was lifted in May 2020 at which point the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an order advising that evictions could move forward subject to certain conditions.
One of the main conditions of evictions moving forward is that the landlord must attest that they have complied with the Certificate of Compliance with the CARES Act. What does that entail? It’s a form that’s submitted with applications for ejectment, otherwise known as evictions, in which the landlord must certify that the subject property in which the landlord is seeking to eject a tenant is not a property designated as a “covered dwelling” under the CARES Act.
There are certain properties that the state of South Carolina is not allowing evictions to proceed on, that are covered under the CARES Act; those being properties that participate in a covered housing program as defined by the Violence Against Women Act; properties in the rural housing voucher program under section 542 of the Housing Act of 1949; and properties with Federally backed mortgage loans. The Certificate also asks if the property is a low-income housing tax credit property. Responding “no” to the above as it relates to the characteristics of the property ensures that a Magistrate Court can consider and move forward with the application for ejectment.
For landlords and property management professionals, it’s important to follow the current law and requirements of South Carolina and ensure that the representations that the landlord is making to the court are accurate. While other States have implemented mandatory mediation between landlords and tenants, and some landlords have filed litigation against Governors regarding state moratorium orders, South Carolina Magistrate Courts continue to move forward with Applications for Ejectment. Landlord shoulder be prepared, however, that Magistrate Courts may encourage compromises between the landlord and tenant and reach any agreement concerning back pay, future rent payment, or otherwise.
It is important if you are a landlord to know the status of the current law in South Carolina as well as what your rights and remedies are under the law at any time and, in particular, during this time throughout the COVID pandemic.