If you disagree with the magistrate court's decision, you have a right to appeal that decision to the circuit court. Each county has a circuit court. You must file your appeal within thirty (30) days of the date that you get notice of the magistrate court's decision. If the magistrate announces the decision at the eviction hearing, your thirty (30) days start then. However, you should appeal before you are ejected from the dwelling unit, which will almost always happen before the thirty (30) days to appeal are up.
When you appeal, you must fill out a document called a "Notice of Civil Appeal." You can find a copy of this document on the SC Judicial website located here: https://www.sccourts.org/forms/searchType.cfm. Also, a copy of this document is included in the packet of documents found at the end of this Lesson.
When you fill out your Notice of Civil Appeal, you must state the errors that you believe the magistrate made. For example, assume that the magistrate found that you breached your lease, but you believe that the magistrate should have found that you did not breach your lease. You should specifically state that the magistrate court erred in finding that you breached your lease, failed to pay rent, had an unauthorized pet or guest, etc. Or, if you believe that the magistrate allowed the landlord to offer evidence that it should not have allowed, state that as well. Or, if you think that the magistrate prevented you from offering evidence that you should have been allowed to present, mention that also.
After you fill out your Notice of Civil Appeal, make three copies. Take the original and all three copies to the Clerk of Court's office at the County Courthouse and file the appeal. The appeal will cost $150. You can ask the circuit court to waive that fee by also filling out and filiing what is called an "In Forma Pauperis" motion. There is an In Forma Pauperis motion included in the packet of documents found at the end of this Lesson. Keep in mind, however, that the circuit court must approve your In Forma Pauperis motion BEFORE the clerk of court will accept your appeal.
After you file your appeal, you must take a copy of the filed Notice of Civil Appeal back to the magistrate court. You also must mail a copy of the filed Notice of Civil Appeal to your landlord. Your landlord's mailing address should be on either the Application for Ejectment or the Rule to Vacate or Show Cause, or on both. You also might find it in your lease.
Next, the magistrate court should prepare what is called a "Return." The Return is where the magistrate states what the evidence was and explains to the circuit court why it ruled the way it did. After the magistrate submits its Return to the circuit court, the clerk of the circuit court will schedule a hearing for your appeal. The clerk will send you and the landlord a notice setting out the hearing date and time. This hearing is your opportunity to explain to the circuit court judge why the magistrate court made a wrong ruling. You will not be able to submit additional evidence to the circuit court, so everything you argue on appeal must relate to the issues that were brought up before the magistrate. In other words, if the issue before the magistrate was whether or not you paid rent, and the magistrate found that you did not pay rent, then you cannot argue on appeal that you have been a good tenant and should get another opportunity. You must argue only those issues that were raised to and addressed by the magistrate court. If the circuit court rules against you, then the Writ of Ejectment will stand.
It is possible for you appeal further to the Court of Appeals, but that process goes beyond the scope of this Lesson. If you think you want to appeal beyond the circuit court, you should consult legal counsel.