Off Campus Housing and Rental Agreements
The information contained here was prepared in conjunction with the College of Charleston Attorney Assistance Program. Though this information is useful, it is not the same as legal advice — which is the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although great measures have been taken to make this information is accurate and useful, we recommend that you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that this information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.
- The rental agreement should include the amount of rent to be paid, the time that the rent should be paid, and the rights and duties of the landlord and tenant. Please be sure the lease covers such items as late fees / penalties, security deposit, the number of individuals allowed to live in the unit, pets, maintenance and repair, pest control, damage or casualty, insurance, utilities, subletting, entry by the landlord, and contract termination.
- Ask questions BEFORE signing the rental agreement. Will the unit be re-keyed when the previous tenant moves out? Or, there may be certain things a landlord will not accommodate that you should be aware of such as provisions about what repairs the landlord will make and the time frame for repairs that are essential. There may be certain things a landlord will not repair.
- Any agreements between you and the landlord not included in the lease should be put in writing. Notify the landlord in writing of any repairs needed or existing problems. The written statement need not be formal and a copy should be kept for your personal records.
- Security deposits are almost always charged in rental situations — usually one month's rent. Be sure that the rental agreement includes a time frame for the return of the security deposit or the reasons why the security deposit will not be returned. Make sure that the landlord or rental agency has your proper forwarding address to return the security deposit.
- When signing any rental agreements or leases, be sure to read the information CAREFULLY. Ask questions so that you understand what you are signing.
- BEFORE you move in, inspect the property. If you find any pre-exisitng damage or problems, note such in writing and give an "inspection report" to the landlord or leasing agent for signature acknowledging any damages or problems you have found. Keep a copy for your records.
- Always treat the landlord or rental agency with respect. Open and pleasant communication generally resolves conflicts more easily.
- If conflicts arise concerning such things as repairs to the property, a good rule of thumb is to CONTINUE to pay your rent on time. This will alleviate some of the headache of paying later if litigation is necessary to resolve the dispute.
- If conflicts arise, refer to the rental agreement. You have certain rights and duties under the South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. To understand these rights fully, contact an attorney.
- Before vacating a property, most rental agreements require at least thirty (30) days notice. Put your notice in writing. Be sure to follow the terms of your rental agreement before vacating a property.
Safety Tip: Have a residential security survey conducted to determine if all locks are working properly and to outline safety measures to reduce the risk of break-in. For more information contact the City of Charleston Police Department (843.720.2436) or the College of Charleston Office of Public Safety (843.953.5611).