What laws govern homeowners associations in South Carolina? What is the South Carolina Homeowners Association Act?

In addition to South Carolina law on horizontal property regimes and the covenants that properties can be subjected to, South Carolina law regulates homeowners associations through the South Carolina Homeowners Association Act.

Effective as of May 17, 2018, the Act provides that for an association’s governing documents to be enforceable, they must have been recorded with the register of deeds in the county where the property is located. The governing documents for purposes of the Act are any declaration, master deed, bylaw, or an amendment to any of those. For preexisting associations and governing documents, the governing documents must have been recorded by January 10, 2019, to remain enforceable.

For any rules of the association, the rules become effective once adopted by the association’s board. For the rules to remain effective, they must be recorded with the register of deeds by January 10 of the year after they were adopted. For preexisting associations and rules, the rules must have been recorded by January 10, 2019, to remain enforceable. Rules also must be made available to members of the association on request and made known through giving the members actual notice by sending the rules to them or by posting the rules in a common area in the community or on the association’s website.

Unless an association is a nonprofit corporation under South Carolina’s Nonprofit Corporation Act, an association must give advance notice to its members of any meeting in which the annual budget will be increased. The notice can be through a posting in a common area of the community or on the association’s website, through e-mail, or through other methods permitted by the association’s bylaws that will provide actual notice to the members.

The Act also provides for limited oversight of associations by the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. The Department’s oversight is limited to collecting complaints, communicating the complaint to the homeowner or homeowners association that is the subject of the complaint, and yearly reporting of the complaints to the Governor, the General Assembly, and through its website, to the public. When the Department receives a complaint, the Department is required to collect and report on certain information including the nature of the complaint, whether the homeowner communicated the complaint to the association or property management company, and what action, if any, the association or management company took in response to the complaint. The Department does not have any power to issue regulations governing associations or to resolve disputes between homeowners and homeowners associations.

The Department of Consumer Affairs released its first Homeowners Association Complaint Report on February 6, 2019. The report and subsequent reports are available here.

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