The South Carolina Rental Application Process
A rental application is important because it collects personal information that will indicate to a residential landlord whether or not a potential tenant would be an ideal renter. Rental applications can reveal previous bankruptcies, evictions, criminal history, and income information about the person applying for the rental.
Rental application forms generally come with a fee that the applicant must pay that is nonrefundable. These fees are usually less than $100 but can vary by landlord. A rental application must comply with both federal fair housing law and with South Carolina landlord-tenant laws.
A Sample South Carolina Rental Application with Examples for Each Step
Before writing a South Carolina rental application form, determine whether you want married applicants or applicants in a civil union to complete separate applications or if they may list their answers on the same one. If you choose to allow them to use the same form, ensure enough space on the form for both applicants to list their answers in each section. Your rental application should include the following sections:
- A section to gather the applicant's personal information. Include their full legal name, date of birth, social security number, cell phone number, work phone number, email address, and emergency contact information.
- A section to gather the applicant's previous rental history. Begin with their current address, including the city, state, and zip code. Request the length of time they've lived at that address, the amount of monthly rent paid, and the contact information for the current landlord. Include a request for previous rental history, including contact information for previous landlords.
- A section to gather the applicant's employment history. Start with the applicant's current employer: the employer's name, full address, how long the applicant has worked for the employer, the applicant's job title, their supervisor's name, and the phone number for either their supervisor or for human resources so that you may verify their employment.
- Request the applicant to list all of their income sources, the type of income (such as a paycheck or a disability check), how often each income source is received, and the amount of each. Then, request the applicant to disclose each checking and savings account they have and which bank or credit union manages the accounts.
- A section to gather information about each vehicle owned by the applicant. Include the number of vehicles and the year, make, model, color, and license plate number for each vehicle.
- Request the name and age of each person who will reside with the applicant in the rental.
- Ask the potential tenant whether they have pets, the number of pets, the type, and their size.
- An authorization to run the background check and credit check once the applicant signs the rental application form. This section is also an excellent place to remind the applicant that the fee they paid is nonrefundable.
- Include a signature line and a space for the date.
Rental Application Resources for Tenants in South Carolina
As a renter in South Carolina, you are a party to a legally binding contract known as a lease agreement or a rental agreement. For many renters, it can feel as if only the landlord has any rights. However, South Carolina landlord-tenant law does provide renters with some rights. Here are some helpful links to help you better understand your rights.
- The South Carolina Bar explains the rights and duties of tenants in plain English. They also describe the rights and responsibilities of landlords.
- Appleseed Legal Justice Center answers several common questions renters have about South Carolina landlord-tenant law.
- South Carolina Legal Services provides a free PDF download that explains the eviction process and a PDF that explains how you can get your landlord to make necessary repairs. They also represent low-income individuals and families who are facing evictions, weren't given back their security deposits, or have other landlord-tenant issues.
- Charleston Legal Access provides legal representation for qualified individuals and families dealing with landlord-tenant issues.
South Carolina Rental Application Laws
The State of South Carolina doesn’t have any laws that limit the amount that a landlord may request as a security deposit for residential real estate. However, renters are encouraged to check their local city and county laws to determine whether those laws or ordinances are different. Whatever the landlord charges, they must return it to the tenant (minus any fees or charges) within 30 days of the renter vacating the premises (S.C. Code Ann. § 27-40-410).