SA’s current rental market is basically a battlefield, with a vacancy rate of less than one per cent. Ouch. That’s why the State Government introduced reforms rewriting the rules for tenants to make them fairer, more secure, and pet friendly. We take you inside the biggest shake-up of residential tenancy laws in a generation.
The big changes
The Government’s bill passed by State Parliament this week has amended the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 to give tenants more security and breathing room in a tight market. It’s a shift towards more equitable housing policies for South Australians having a hard time finding a place to call home.
No more no-cause evictions!
Today’s rental market is no longer a free-for-all. In news that’s sure to bring a lot of renters’ peace of mind, landlords now need a real reason to kick out a periodic tenant or refuse to renew a fixed-term lease. The reasons must be serious stuff – like breaches by the tenant, wanting to sell, renovate or occupy the property.
On top of that, the reforms mean a 60-day notice period is the new norm – more than double the previous 28-day period. This new breathing space gives tenants less reason to panic and more time to plan their next move.
Furry friends are now welcome
In a big win for pet parents, SA renters now have the right to live with their furry (or scaly) friends. That means no more heart-breaking decisions about whether to give up your beloved companion in order to put a roof over your head. Your landlord can set some conditions, like keeping dogs outside or cleaning the carpets at moving-out time, but it’s a huge leap forward for pet lovers.
More good news for renters
Finally, it’s the law that all rental properties have to comply with minimum housing standards. That’s a massive win for anyone who’s ever spent a depressing weekend trawling through a whole lot of dodgy rental listings for new digs that are actually up to scratch for people to live in.
And in more good news, the changes to the Bill provide privacy protection for renters by legally safeguarding their personal info. They also provide support for victims of domestic violence, making it easier for them to find a safe new home.
A service supporting tenants
Alongside the new Bill, State Government support also means a Tenant Advocacy Service will be on standby to guide tenants through all their rental hassles. The service will help renters with education, information, support in resolving issues, assistance with forms and letters, and support at tribunal hearings.
Thinking about breaking away from the rental market and buying your first home home? There’s an easy way to work out how much you need to save – and how much you’re eligible to borrow:
The bigger picture
These changes are more than just tweaks to existing laws – they’re reforms to reshape how renting works in South Australia. And they’re only one part of the Government’s big strategy to tackle the housing crisis, called A Better Housing Future.
The Government’s prior moves as part of this strategy have saved renters more than $11.5 million since April. They include a ban on rent bidding, and raising the bond threshold so that only a four-week bond is required from most renters.
The State Government has also made more people eligible for the Private Rental Assistance Scheme, which saves people on low-incomes thousands of dollars by avoiding the upfront costs of bond and rent in advance altogether.
What else is happening?
A lot! The State Government’s plan to address the housing crisis isn’t just about the rental market, it’s also about making buying a home more achievable for more South Australians. That includes grants, the abolishment of stamp duty for eligible first home buyers, land releases, and support from HomeStart to help first home buyers – plus a whole lot of new affordable and social housing.