South Carolina Tenant Voices
South Carolinian stories about the importance of housing.
The Housing Stories Project seeks to share experiences of those impacted by evictions, poor conditions, and other issues exacerbating the housing crisis in South Carolina. Stories show how deliberate policies impact real people , and they have the power to influence advocates and lawmakers to change the status quo.
Why Share Your Story?
Finding and maintaining affordable, stable, and accessible housing has become increasingly difficult throughout our state. South Carolina has one of the highest eviction filing rates in the country, and injustices such as rent hikes have only made problems worse for tenants. Share your story today.
Tenets of housing
At Appleseed, we believe housing should be…
- Affordable. Housing justice cannot be achieved if families and individuals have to forgo food, healthcare, and other necessities to keep a roof over their head.
- Accessible. Obtaining quality housing should never be exclusive. Folks with disabilities, families, seniors, veterans, and those with criminal records deserve to live in housing that fits their needs and gives their communities ample opportunities to thrive.
- Habitable. Everyone deserves and needs a safe, well-maintained, clean, pest-free, ventilated, and air-conditioned home, apartment, mobile home, or any other dwelling.
- Stable. Whenever issues or difficulties arise in a person’s life, their housing should never be put at risk. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how losing a paycheck or dealing with a family emergency can threaten housing stability. Additionally, communities should not lose their housing people or corporations with more capital who want to gentrify community neighborhoods.
South Carolina tenants are at the highest risk of eviction out of any other state in the nation, and our state also has one of the country’s highest rates of eviction filings. These facts can be traced back to several issues in law and policy, but a major concern in housing justice is the cost of filing for evictions.
On average, it costs a landlord around $100 to file an eviction in the U.S., but in South Carolina, landlords only have to pay $40. This means landlords don’t have to consider a higher cost burden when deciding whether or not they want to pursue an eviction.
Unlike other states in the country, South Carolina doesn’t guarantee legal representation in eviction proceedings. This means low-income folks faced with eviction are often forced to navigate complex legal proceedings without the institutional knowledge counsel could provide.
Once someone has been evicted, it stays on their housing record for the rest of their life. Landlords can easily access any applicant’s housing record through the tenant screening portion of a rental application and deny a potential tenant because of a past eviction. This “Scarlet E” makes it extremely difficult - even impossible - for people to find stable housing if they’ve been evicted.
Wages in South Carolina have failed to keep up with rising rent costs, and this continues to negatively impact tenants across the state. Approximately 27% of renter households in SC are classified as extremely low income households (ELI). 71% of these renter households are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend over half of their income on housing (NLIHC).
Cost burdened and low-income households are much more likely to forgo necessities like food and healthcare to make their rent each month. According to the South Carolina Housing Finance and Development Authority, one-third of South Carolinians cannot afford basic expenses due to high housing costs.
Additionally, a person working for minimum wage ($7.25) would have to work 91 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment and 106 hours for a two-bedroom.
14 Day Letters
Tenants who are struggling to get their landlord to make repairs, especially repairs materially affecting the health and safety or physical condition of their property, should send their landlord a letter regarding the landlord’s duty to fix the property (per SC Code Ann. § 27-40-610). This is called a 14 Day Letter.
Learn more and download the letter by visiting our guide here.