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Residential Tenancies

Temporary Update: The economic effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in some tenants facing financial hardship, and in particular, difficulty paying their rent or meeting their tenancy obligations.

In response, the South Australian Government has recently passed the Covid- 19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (SA) allowing for temporary changes to residential tenancy law. [See section 8].

The legislative protections have been put in place to avoid tenants facing homelessness during such a public health emergency.

These changes have come into effect as of 30 March 2020 and will cease on either 8 October 2020 or at the time in which all relevant declarations relating to COVID-19 within South Australia have ceased (whichever is earlier) [See s 6(2)]

The major changes include:

  • Landlords must not increase rental amounts during this period [s 8(1)(b)]
  • Landlords and agents must conduct property inspections using audio-visual or electronic means, and tenants are required to take reasonable steps to facilitate such inspections. Only in exceptional circumstances will landlords or agents be physically allowed to conduct inspections in person. [s 8(1)(c)]
  • Any acts or omissions of a tenant required under South Australian law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be taken not to amount to a breach of a residential tenancy agreement, or otherwise amount to grounds for termination of the agreement [s 8(d)].
  • Tenants may have repairs carried out on the premises (in accordance with any agreement with the landlord relating to such repairs) without seeking prior approval. However, costs and compensation for such repairs will still be determined under existing residential tenancy legislation [s 8(1)(e)]
  • Residential tenancies cannot be solely terminated by the landlord due to a failure to pay rent, in circumstances where the tenant is suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic [s 8(g)]
  • The Tribunal (SACAT) cannot terminate a residential tenancy, or make an order for vacant possession, due to a failure to pay rent in circumstances where the tenant is suffering financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic [s 8(h)].

The new temporary measures do not mean that all tenants are able to stop paying rent (including water supply and usage), or that tenants are not required to repay rental arrears. Tenants that are able to continue paying their rent should do so. Both landlords and tenants are expected to work together during this time to come to alternative arrangements where appropriate.

If an agreement cannot be reached, and a dispute arises, the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) will continue to hear applications in its original jurisdiction. SACAT has been given a range of discretionary powers that can be used to give effect to the intention of the Act. [See sections 8(4)-(6)]. SACAT has also produced a fact sheet on the recent temporary changes here [link opens in new window].

Consumer and Business Services (CBS), and the Tenants Information and Advisory Service (TIAS) have both updated their websites to reflect the temporary changes to residential tenancy law in SA. [links will open in new window]

Tenants Information and Advisory Service

CBS Tenancy Advice

Get Legal Help

From June 2018, the ability of the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) to determine disputes where one party is resident interstate has changed and different procedures may apply to these disputes - see Resolving Tenancy Disputes

This section is concerned with renting a home and other types of accommodation covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA), and the relationship between landlords and tenants. The Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) applies to most residential tenancy agreements.

Not all kinds of tenancies are covered by this Act, for example, caravan park tenants are covered by the Residential Parks Act 2007 (SA), and boarders and lodgers are still regulated by the common law and certain other statutes.

In addition, the rights and obligations of members of a housing co-operative (whether registered or not) differ slightly from those of other tenants, see 'PUBLIC HOUSING'.

The following agreements are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) [s 5]:

  • where the premises are part of a hotel or motel;
  • where the premises are part of an educational institution, college, hospital or nursing home;
  • where the premises are used for the purposes of a club;
  • where the premises are used as a home for aged or disabled people by an eligible organisation;
  • where the premises are part of retirement village under the Retirement Villages Act 2016 (SA);
  • where the premises are part of a supported residential facility under the Supported Residential Facilities Act 1992 (SA);
  • where the premises are part of a building in which other premises are let by the landlord to the tenant for the purposes of a trade, profession or business carried on by the tenant [Residential Tenancies Regulations 2010 (SA) reg 6];
  • where the premises are on land let by the landlord to the tenant for the purposes of a trade, profession or business (including agriculture) carried on by the tenant [reg 6 (1)(b)];
  • where the premises are a residential park, for example, a caravan park (covered by the Residential Parks Act 2007 (SA);
  • where the tenant is a boarder or lodger in premises other than a rooming house [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 5(b)], see Boarders and Lodgers;
  • where the premises are used for holiday purposes only. If the agreement is for a serviced apartment for 60 days or more it is up to the landlord to prove that the agreement is in respect of holiday premises [see reg 6(2)];
  • where the agreement arises under a mortgage over the premises/

Agreements where the tenant is a party to a contract for the sale or purchase of the premises that confers a right to occupy the premises for a period of 28 days or less are now covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA). Where the agreement is for a period of more than 28 days the Act does not apply.

For further tenancy information see The SA Gov website regarding Renting and letting. The website also has information on renting explained in various languages.

Residential Tenancies  :  Last Revised: Thu May 7th 2020
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.