Your Guide to South Carolina HOA Rules and Regulations
- Understanding the Various State HOA Laws
- South Carolina HOA Rules and Regulations You Should Know
- Learn About Acts Prohibited by Debt Collectors
- Learn Laws about HOA Solar Panels
- Learn About Acts Related to Nonprofit Corporations
Similar to other business, companies and organizations, South Carolina HOA rules and regulations bind property management companies through specific regulations and concrete legal parameters. As the leader in the property management industry, FirstService Residential is committed to helping you board members familiarize themselves with these community management and HOA laws to better protect and serve your community.
As a board, it is imperative for HOA board members to stay aligned and keep HOA laws and regulations in mind when creating the goals and vision of a community.
This video identifies the importance of board alignment in more detail. Learn more here!
Understanding the Various State HOA Laws
An integral part of running a homeowners association is knowing the various laws that apply to your community. Making sure your association complies with these laws safeguards your HOA from potential liability. And while federal laws universally apply to all homeowners associations nationwide, some laws can vary depending on where your association is located.
At FirstService Residential, we are available for South Carolina's board members and residents across the state and are committed to helping them understand the ever-changing landscape of HOA laws throughout the state. Our localized and expert management teams can help you navigate the legal landscape and handle everything from emergency management and equipment maintenance to community newsletters and resident surveys. Our team serves various areas throughout the state, including: Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Asheville and various other local communities across South Carolina.
Similar to many other states, South Carolina has its own set of HOA laws& that govern community associations. FirstService Residential, the leading property management company, allows board members to better understand what these laws are.
Let’s break them down according to what type of association they relate to.
South Carolina HOA Rules and Regulations You Should Know
South Carolina Homeowners Association Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 27-30-110, et. seq.
This is one of the primary laws affecting HOAs, and its main effect is to impose certain disclosure requirements; in other words, it makes it a legal necessity for HOA Boards to communicate candidly and proactively with members and aspiring buyers. Additionally, this statute created a Department of Consumer Affairs Services for Homeowners and Homeowners Associations, providing the state with some investigative and regulatory power to handle complaints from homeowners.
This is an important law for protecting the rights of owners, but is also helpful to Boards themselves, inasmuch as it clarifies expectations for disclosure and communication.
South Carolina Horizontal Property Act, S.C. Code Ann. §§ 27-31-10, et. seq.
This law includes a lot of stipulations regarding the formation and management of “horizontal property regimes,” which basically means condos. Note that there are also several important amendments associated with this law, including some notable insurance policies. Though not HOA-focused in the strictest sense, this law does have major implications for condominium associations.
South Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act of 1994, S.C. Code Ann. §§ 33-31-101, et. seq.
In this law, the State of South Carolina provides some legal parameters for creating and structuring a nonprofit organization. Most HOAs are incorporated as nonprofits, making this law very germane.
South Carolina Fair Housing Law
This South Carolina law functions as a state-level mirror of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of things like race, color, sex, nation of origin, religion, or family status. It’s exceedingly important for HOAs to know and comply with this law.
South Carolina Consumer Protection Code – S.C. Code Ann. § 37-1-101, et. seq.
This law protects citizens against any debt collection practices that are abusive, manipulative, or dishonest. HOA dues and assessments are qualified as “debts,” making this law highly applicable to HOA collection practices. We recommend reviewing the terms of this law before pursuing collections or going after delinquencies in your HOA community.
S.C. Code Ann. § 23-13-15.
Simply put, this law authorizes local sheriffs to pay a deputy to patrol HOA communities, if paid for by the HOA itself.
S.C. Code Ann. § 27-1-60
Under this law, all HOA homeowners are entitled to fly one reasonably-sized US flag from their home, provided they do so respectfully and do not hinder the view from a neighboring property.
South Carolina Uniform Act Regulating Traffic to Private Roads, S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-6310.
The purpose of this law is to enable the enforcement of traffic laws on private roads, including those that might run through an HOA community (and technically qualify as property of the HOA).
Diving Into Specific HOA Laws in South Carolina
Here are some provisions to some of the most common topics for you to consider:
- Surplus Funds: Occasionally, communities will find themselves with surplus funds. When this occurs, board members must turn to their declaration for guidance. If their declaration doesn't have a ton of details on this issue, Section 47F-3-114 dictates that any surplus funds should be returned to the membership or deducted from future dues and assessments.
- Flags and Political Signs: According to Section 47F-3-121 of the Planned Community Act, associations may not restrict owners from displaying the United States flag or the state flag that measures no more than 4 x 6 ft. Of course, this is provided the owner displays the flag in compliance with Title 4 of the U.S. Code. The exception to this rule, though, is when an association uses appropriate language regulating or prohibiting flag displays within its declaration. Similar provisions exist when it comes to the display of political signs.
- Mediation Prior to Litigation: Typically, associations must inform members of their right to a mediation process when disputes arise. Associations must do this at least on a yearly basis. Additionally, Section 7A-38.3F encourages parties of a dispute to first go through mediation before turning to litigation. This, of course, does not apply to disputes concerning delinquencies.
- Inspection of Association Records: According to Section 47F-3-118 of the Planned Community Act, associations must keep detailed financial records and make them reasonably available to their members (or their authorized agents) for inspection. At a minimum, HOAs must keep accurate records of the association’s assets, liabilities, expenditures, and cash receipts. Additionally, associations must present all lot owners with the HOA’s annual balance sheet and income statement within 75 days following the end of the fiscal year.
Pro tip: As important as it is to understand and adhere to these South Carolina rules and regulations, it is equally important to always keep them in mind when creating rules for your HOA or community association.
Learn About Acts Prohibited by Debt Collectors
South Carolina residents are protected by the Federal Debt Collections Protection Act, which prohibits debt collectors from using unfair or misleading tactics to collect debts. Debt collectors can call, send letters, and contact you via social media for overdue debts. If you don't pay, they can sue you.
The state’s Persons With Disabilities Protection Act offers protection to persons with physical or mental impairments from discrimination in places of public accommodations. Within the context of community associations, this applies to any common areas or spaces open to the general public. Associations must reasonably accommodate persons with disabilities and make these public areas accessible to them. It is similar to the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
Fair Housing Laws
Housing discrimination victims can submit a complaint to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Complaints must be filed within a year from the date of the act of housing discrimination. Alternatively, victims can also choose to file a private lawsuit within two years of the act in the federal district court.
The state’s Fair Housing Act protects certain classes of people from housing discrimination. According to this Act, housing providers, including community associations, cannot discriminate against people based on their race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, or handicapping condition. In many ways, this Act functions similarly to the federal Fair Housing Act.
Learn Laws About HOA Solar Panels
- Deed Restrictions, Covenants and Other Agreements Prohibiting Solar Collectors, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 22B-20. The purpose of the statute is to "protect the public health, safety, and welfare by encouraging the development and use of solar resources and by prohibiting deed restrictions, covenants, and other similar agreements that could have the ultimate effect of driving the costs of owning and maintaining a residence beyond the financial means of most owners." § 22B-20(a).
- In particular, this chapter voids any deed restriction, covenant, or similar binding agreement that effectively prohibits the installation of a solar collector for residential property (excluding condominiums created under Chapter 47A or 47C) subject to the deed restriction, covenant, or agreement. § 22B-20(b). The law permits associations to impose restrictions on the location or screening of solar collectors provided the deed restriction, covenant, or similar binding agreement does not have the effect of preventing the reasonable use of a solar collector for a residential property. § 22B-20(c). The law sets additional requirements for solar collectors that are visible by a person on the ground. § 22B-20(d).
Pro tip: Since solar panels are extremely common in this region, always keep in mind that you are clearly communicating about the rules, laws and regulations as they relate to solar panels to your residents. For more information on how to develop an effective community communications plan to increase transparency and alignment between your board and residents, click here.
Learn About Acts Related to Nonprofit Corporations
The Nonprofit Corporation Act, found under the General Statutes Chapter 55A, applies to nonprofit corporations in the state. The provisions of this Act relate more to the corporate structure and procedure of nonprofits.
This important act consists of the following articles:
- Article 1 – General Provisions.
- Article 2 – Organization.
- Article 3 – Purposes and Powers.
- Article 4 – Names.
- Article 5 – Office and Agent.
- Article 6 – Members and Memberships.
- Article 7 – Members’ Meetings and Voting; Derivative Proceedings.
- Article 8 – Directors and Officers.
- Article 10 – Amendment of Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.
- Article 11 – Merger.
- Article 11A – Conversions.
- Article 12 – Transfer of Assets.
- Article 13 – Distributions.
- Article 14 – Dissolution.
- Article 14A – Reorganization.
- Article 15 – Foreign Corporations.
- Article 16 – Records and Reports.
- Article 17 – Transition and Curative Provisions.
On the other hand, condo associations can be arranged as not-for-profit corporations or for-profit corporations. These associations also have the option to remain as unincorporated nonprofit associations. It is worth noting that for-profit corporations, including condo associations that incorporate as such, must follow the state’s Business Corporation Act.
Many HOAs Could Use Support Navigating SC HOA Laws
Understanding the different South Carolina HOA rules and regulations that apply to your association can come as a challenge. Considering the importance of abiding by these laws, though, all associations must make an effort to remain informed. If your HOA board finds it difficult, perhaps it is time to outsource the job to a trusted HOA management company.
As the leading property management company – coupled with the depth of resources and local knowledge of various areas throughout the area, FirstService Residential provides end-to-end property management solutions tailored to your community association’s individual needs.
Contact us online to connect with one of our local property management specialists today to learn more!