7 March 2024

Stronger protections for South Australian renters come into effect

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Andrea Michaels MP

SA Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs Andrea Michaels says the new protections benefit tenants and landlords. Photo: Andrea Michaels Facebook.

The South Australian Government says it is acting decisively to address South Australia’s rental crisis, with stronger protections for tenants coming into effect.

As of 1 March, rent increases are now limited to once a year, while penalties for breaches have been significantly increased.

The previous provision that allowed for rent to be increased more than once a year with consent of the tenant has now been removed. Penalties for breaches including a landlord falsely stating they require possession of a rental premises in order to terminate a tenancy have been increased from a maximum of $2500 to $50,000.

Tougher penalties for breaches have also been implemented for discriminating against a potential tenant because a child will live in the property, or for seeking an upfront payment of more than two weeks’ rent before the end of the first two weeks of the tenancy.

Penalties for breaches including failing to offer at least one free method of rent payment or seeking more than one bond payment from the same tenancy agreement have also been increased from $5000 to $35,000.

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To better protect landlords, fines have also been increased from $2500 to $25,000 for tenants who intentionally cause serious damage to a rental property.

Further changes expected to come into effect later this year include:

  • Not allowing the termination of a lease without prescribed reasons.
  • Extending the notice period to end a tenancy from 28 days to 60 days.
  • Allowing tenants to have pets in rental homes with reasonable conditions.
  • Reforms to protect prospective tenants’ information.
  • Ensuring rental properties comply with minimum housing standards.
  • Additional support for victims of domestic violence.

The government says the reforms follow its earlier moves to address rental affordability including banning rent bidding and raising the bond threshold, which it says has saved tenants millions of dollars since being introduced in April 2023.

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Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs and Minister for Small and Family Business Andrea Michaels said the government knew how tough the rental market was for South Australians.

“We are providing tenants with more security in their rental home as well as limiting rent increases to once a year,” she said.

“At a time when South Australian tenants are facing unprecedented levels of housing insecurity, we want to ensure tenants have the best possible protections in place including stronger rights, more financial stability and better long-term security.

“Landlords also deserve protection to ensure their property is being properly taken care of, which is why we have also increased penalties available for those tenants who fail to live up to their responsibilities,” she added.

“These reforms strike the right balance in protecting both the rights of tenants and landlords.”

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