Homeowners associations (HOAs) in South Carolina are bound by local, state, and federal laws, and the first step to ensuring that your HOA is compliant is learning about them.

Because we understand that navigating the complex realm of legislation isn't easy if you lack a legal background, we have simplified it for you to ensure that you are equipped with all the information you need to remain compliant.

In this guide, we'll talk about some of the most prominent South Carolina HOA laws and provide an overview of the rights and responsibilities of community associations. We'll also discuss other pertinent topics. Let's get started!

What Are Homeowners Associations?

A homeowners association (HOA) is a legal entity formed to oversee a residential community and enforce certain rules and regulations to ensure that the area meets certain standards. This ensures that property values are maintained and that the neighborhood remains visually appealing.

Communities that are typically governed by HOAs include planned developments, condominium complexes, or housing subdivisions. These associations are regulated by local, state, and federal laws, in addition to their own set of bylaws.

In addition to bylaws, community associations in South Carolina also have a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R) that homeowners agree to when they purchase property in the neighborhood.

These associations are in charge of common area upkeep, dues collection, and the regulation of architectural and behavioral standards. HOAs can levy penalties and take legal action to guarantee that its regulations are followed.

South Carolina Homeowners Association Laws and Regulations You Need to Know About

Below, we provide an overview of the relevant laws governing HOAs in South Carolina. Keep in mind that there may be other relevant statutes that you will need to refer to when ensuring that your community association is compliant.

South Carolina Homeowners Association Act

The South Carolina Homeowners Association Act (South Carolina Code § 27-30-110) governs the state's homeowners associations. This law establishes a legal framework for the management and operation of homeowners associations, promoting transparency and accountability.

It requires the adoption of documented bylaws, the establishment of fair election processes, and the provision of specific records to members. The statute also covers financial concerns such as budgeting, annual budget increases, and levies.

This act entitles homeowners to be present at association meetings and vote on important matters. It also describes processes for resolving disputes and enforcing compliance.

Keep in mind that this act has put in place the Department of Consumer Affairs Services, which is available to help answer any questions you may have.

South Carolina Horizontal Property Act

This act regulates horizontal property regimes that specifically decide to be controlled by the legislation by completing a master deed. It is designed to govern the formation, operation, powers, and management of such entities.

South Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act of 1994

Most HOAs in the state are non-profit organizations and are therefore governed by the South Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act of 1994. It regulates the creation and management of such entities in the state.

Moreover, it outlines internal guidelines, such as the organization of boards of directors, bylaws, and membership rights. The statute also handles concerns such as nonprofit mergers, conversions, and asset acquisitions. It sets financial management, documentation, and yearly reporting guidelines.

South Carolina Fair Housing Law

Homeowners associations in South Carolina are not allowed to discriminate against homeowners because of their race, color, religion, disability, etc. Although the federal Fair Housing Act provides protection at a national level, the state of South Carolina also offers state-level protection for members.

It is important for HOA managers, executives, and board members to familiarize themselves with these laws to ensure that they treat all members fairly.

South Carolina Consumer Protection Code

This legislation controls debt collectors' behavior at the state level and includes restrictions comparable to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). It prevents debt collectors from being deceptive, unjust, or abusive when collecting debt.

Homeowners who are treated unfairly by HOAs can file private lawsuits against the organization or approach the Department of Consumer Affairs for assistance. They can also go to the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if an HOA has violated this code.

An Overview of the Rights and Responsibilities of HOAs in South Carolina

In South Carolina, HOAs have certain rights and obligations. They have the authority to collect assessments and enforce community rules and architectural specifications. Moreover, they are required to keep communal spaces clean, perform necessary repairs, and arrange community events.

Additionally, homeowner's associations have the right to initiate legal action or levy fines for rule violations. Their obligations include preserving transparency by maintaining records and making them available to members.

They are also required to host frequent community meetings to discuss pertinent matters. These organizations are required to follow state and federal laws while also looking out for the interests of the community as a whole.

Balancing homeowners' rights with the responsibilities of efficient community management is critical to their role of protecting property values and improving the quality of life in the area.

HOAs Can Impose Fines for Violations and Late Payments

Community associations in South Carolina may fine homeowners for failing to pay their dues on time. Keep in mind that the governing documents specify the nature and amount of the fines that can be charged. They also provide more information about the notice requirements regarding these charges.

You will also need to take note of the fact that homeowners associations in South Carolina may not punish a homeowner for raising the US national flag in accordance with federal law and setting up antennas and satellite dishes.

HOAs and Foreclosures

There are no laws in South Carolina that say that HOAs are permitted to seize a member's property. However, HOAs may place a lien on the person's home for the payment of the outstanding amount. The rights and method for foreclosures because of an unpaid lien are determined by the governing documents of the association.

It's also important to note here that homeowners cannot be evicted by an HOA. If the property owner has a tenant, however, the community association may be allowed to evict the tenant.

How to Join or Leave a Homeowners Association in South Carolina

There are no provisions in state law that determine whether being a member of a homeowners association is mandatory. As a result, there are two main types of homeowners associations in South Carolina, namely mandatory and voluntary HOAs.

Suppose a new homeowner's property is located in an area where there is a mandatory HOA. In that case, they are under obligation to join and may only leave if they file a petition to have their property removed from the boundaries of the association or if they sell the house.

Handling Complaints

There's no doubt that disputes and complaints are part of the job, and if you are in a management position, you need to come to terms with this fact. Knowing how to handle disputes is an important quality to have as a manager, executive, or board member.

You should always try mediation before the matter escalates and attempt to settle the dispute amicably. However, if no resolution can be reached, it may be time for more proactive methods. We have drawn up a helpful article that you can use when dealing with various types of disputes. You can find it here.

Dissolving a South Carolina Homeowners Association

The process for dissolving an association in South Carolina can be found in the organization's governing documents. If not, the decision to dissolve the association must be accepted by at least two-thirds of the members of the organization or the majority of the members with voting rights, whichever is less.

Should the proposition be accepted, the board of directors should prepare a report or proposal for dissolution to dispose of its assets and pay off debts. Before any distribution is made, a notice of intent has to be submitted to the South Carolina Attorney General, along with a copy of the proposal for dissolution.

The homeowner's association may submit the Articles of Dissolution with the South Carolina Secretary of State 20 days after providing notice to the South Carolina Attorney General or receiving written approval for the dissolution. Thereafter, the association will be considered dissolved.

About DoorLoop's HOA Tools

If you find that ensuring that your HOA remains compliant with the many laws, rules, and regulations listed above, you are not alone! Thousands of HOA managers, board members, and executives feel the same.

That's why we designed DoorLoop, an innovative set of tools that can help streamline your day-to-day activities and ensure transparency, compliance, and efficiency. With a powerful set of features, you can quickly and easily manage work orders, communicate with staff and vendors, and send notices to members at the touch of a button.

Our property management software also includes an easy-to-use platform designed with you in mind. That means that we don't just promise great features but make sure that you are able to find and use them when the need arises.

At DoorLoop, we also take great pride in providing world-class customer support so you have the assurance that you are not left to deal with potential problems on your own. Our team will make sure you get the help you need.

Now, you can sign up to schedule your free demo or contact us to learn more about our innovative HOA management software.

Final Thoughts

Managing a homeowners association successfully involves a comprehensive understanding of the relevant HOA laws, rules, and regulations. Now that you have a good idea of the concurrent jurisdiction of community associations in South Carolina, you are well on your way.

If you are looking for the perfect automation software to help improve your HOA's efficiency, why not give DoorLoop a try with a free demo and experience the innovation for yourself?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What happens if a homeowner doesn't pay their HOA dues in South Carolina?

If a member's HOA dues remain unpaid, the organization can place a lien on the person's property and may be able to foreclose on the house to secure the overdue amount.

2. Can HOAs enter a member's private property?

There is no law in South Carolina that authorizes an association to gain access to a homeowner's property. Most governing documents, however, include a clause that allows the homeowners association to enter the property as needed when they need to conduct repairs or maintenance to shared elements, such as balconies. 

HOAs will need to provide sufficient notice before gaining access to a property owner's home unless in the case of an emergency.

3. Are HOA governing documents considered public records?

Yes. Governing documents in South Carolina are considered public records. These documents must be recorded with either the register of deeds, clerk of court, or the register of Mesne Conveyance (RMC) in the relevant county. 

You may go to your local register of deeds office or clerk of court to get a copy of the governing documents.

4. What powers do HOAs in South Carolina have?

HOAs in the state can collect regular assessments to cover maintenance practices and have the power to impose fines for violations or unpaid dues. They may also enforce certain rules and regulations that restrict certain elements, such as the color of paint that may be used on the exterior surfaces of a home.

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!