On June 2, the South Carolina legislature passed House Bill 4548, which amends section 37-2-307, Code of Laws of South Carolina, to give the Department of Consumer Affairs (the Department) the authority to regulate motor vehicle closing fees for reasonableness. Pursuant to HB 4548, if a motor vehicle dealer charges a closing fee of less than $225 per vehicle, the Department will not conduct a review of the amount of the closing fee. For closing fees exceeding $225, the Department may conduct a review for reasonableness that permits including the following in a closing fee: (i) all administrative expenses, costs, staff, supplies, materials, and financial work required to transfer the motor vehicle to the consumer and to obtain the closing of the transaction; (ii) all costs for administrative expenses, costs, staff, supplies, and materials needed by the dealer to ensure compliance with all state, federal, and lender requirements; (iii) all costs for administrative costs, staff, and materials needed to prepare and retrieve documents; (iv) all costs for administrative costs, staff, supplies, and materials required to protect the consumer’s private personal information; and (v) all costs for administrative costs, staff, supplies, and materials required for records retention and storage costs of those records.
In accordance with the new law, the Department issued a memorandum to South Carolina automobile dealers on June 6, advising them that they have until July 3, 2016 to comply with the recent closing fee amendments. Dealers who already filed their closing fees with the Department and wish to continue to charge the same fee after July 3 “must submit a renewal Motor Vehicle Filing Form along with a ten dollar filing fee to the Department before the Deadline.” Updated filing forms will be available via the Department’s website by June 10, 2016.