The attorneys at the law firm of Futeral & Nelson, LLC have experience representing both landlords and tenants in commercial lease disputes. Commercial leases are based on contract law, and we can assist in deciphering these complicated documents and understanding your legal obligations based on South Carolina law. Further, we courtroom experience and will aggressively pursue or defend your claims in a breach of lease situation.
Our Charleston lawyers also represent clients in residential landlord and tenant disputes. Both landlords and tenants alike have many rights, as well as duties, under the South Carolina Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-10 to -940.
For landlords, we offer a counseling session to be sure you know your rights and obligations under the act. We will go over the act with you and make sure you understand its provisions. We will also help you customize a lease to fit your property and build a form bank for when you need to communicate with your tenant. In certain instances, a tenant can seek treble (meaning three times) damages if a landlord does not comply with the act, and we can make you familiar with the laws to prevent such an instance from occurring. If you are a landlord who is not familiar with the act, we encourage you to seek advice from an attorney before a dispute arises.
For tenants, we suggest you consider the following points:
- Before moving in, document the condition of the property in full, making a list of any flaws or existing damage. You cannot be too detailed in your record.
- Always communicate major events to the landlord in writing and be sure to save a copy of the letter for yourself. Major events can include complaints or notice of terminating the lease.
- Read your lease. Do not think that renting property means simply paying money in exchange for permission to occupy the property. There will be many provisions you need to be aware of. One example is that some leases do not terminate upon the end of the term, but instead convert to a monthly lease, in which you will need to provide the landlord written notice of your intent to leave at least thirty days prior to leaving.
- Do not unreasonably restrict your landlord’s access to the property or you will be breaching the lease. The landlord still owns the property and the law gives your landlord the right to service, maintain, and protect it. You cannot change the locks without the landlord’s permission.
- Consider buying renter’s insurance. While the landlord maintains an insurance policy on the building, your personal property may not be protected in the event of natural disaster or accident.
- Know your rights. The landlord is required to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition and provide, among other things, running water, a reasonable amount of hot water, and a reasonable amount of heat. If any of these essential services are not available, immediately notify the landlord in writing.