For property tax purposes, the term Legal Residence shall mean the permanent home or dwelling place owned by a person and occupied by the owner. It is the place where the owner intends to remain permanently for an indefinite time. However, the same shall not include a residence maintained principally for vacation or recreational purposes. Legal residence refers to the special 4% assessment ratio for owner-occupied homes. The owner must have title (deed or will) or the owner, as his legal residence must occupy have an equity interest (Recorded Bond-for-Title or Contract to Purchase) and the property.
S.C. Code of Laws, Section 12-43-220
(c)(1) The legal residence and not more than five acres contiguous thereto, when owned totally or in part in fee or by life estate and occupied by the owner of the interest, and additional dwellings located on the same property and occupied by immediate family members of the owner of the interest, are taxed on an assessment equal to four percent of the fair market value of the property. If residential real property is held in trust and the income beneficiary of the trust occupies the property as a residence, then the assessment ratio allowed by this item applies if the trustee certifies to the assessor that the property is occupied as a residence by the income beneficiary of the trust. When the legal residence is located on leased or rented property and the residence is owned and occupied by the owner of a residence on leased property, even though at the end of the lease period the lessor becomes the owner of the residence, the assessment for the residence is at the same ratio as provided in this item. If the lessee of property upon which he has located his legal residence is liable for taxes on the leased property, then the property upon which he is liable for taxes, not to exceed five acres contiguous to his legal residence, must be assessed at the same ratio provided in this item. If this property has located on it any rented mobile homes or residences which are rented or any business for profit, this four percent value does not apply to those businesses or rental properties.
(c)(2)(i) To qualify for the special property tax assessment ratio, the owner-occupant must have actually owned and occupied the residence as his legal residence and been domiciled at that address for some period during the applicable tax year. A residence which has been qualified as a legal residence for any part of the year is entitled to the four percent assessment ratio provided in this item for the entire year, for the exemption from property taxes levied for school operations pursuant to Section 12-37-251 for the entire year, and for the homestead exemption under Section 12-37-250, if otherwise eligible, for the entire year.