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South Australia rolls out major rental reforms with pets allowed and greater tenant security

Starting July 1, South Australia’s landmark rental reforms will empower tenants with rights to keep pets and more notice for lease terminations, while ensuring landlords have clear guidelines.

The South Australian state government has introduced a sweeping set of rental law reforms that are set to bring considerable changes for landlords and tenants alike. Announced by Premier Peter Malinauskas and Andrea Michaels, the Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs, these changes will kick off on 1 July 2024, marking some of the most significant updates since the Residential Tenancies Act of 1995.

The upcoming changes are designed to offer greater security for tenants amidst historically low vacancy rates and ensure that the rights of landlords remain safeguarded. Key features of the new legislation include strict requirements for landlords around the termination of tenancies, increased notice periods for ending fixed tenancies, the introduction of minimum housing standards, and provisions for tenants to have pets in their rental homes under clear guidelines set by landlords.

Specifically, landlords will now require a prescribed reason to terminate periodic tenancies or not renew a fixed-term lease. Acceptable reasons include tenant breaches, and the landlord’s need to sell, renovate, or occupy the property. The notice period for ending a fixed tenancy will also be extended from 28 days to 60 days, providing tenants with additional time to find alternative accommodation and organise their relocation.

The reforms also detail that tenants will, for the first time, be able to keep pets in rental properties, subject to conditions such as having carpets cleaned at the end of the tenancy or keeping the animals outside.

In an effort to support these changes and provide assistance to tenants, the government has established RentRight SA as the new Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service. This service will focus on advising and advocating for tenants and residents of residential parks, aiding in the resolution of tenancy issues, providing financial counselling, and helping with tenancy-related documentation and information.

Premier Malinauskas shared, “We know that the only way to end the housing crisis is to build more homes, and this week we will be outlining our Roadmap to do just that. But in the here and now, we’re making life fairer for renters. South Australians shouldn’t have to choose between a pet and a home. Nor should they be evicted with no reason and little notice.”

Minster Michaels reiterated the significance of these reforms, noting their impact on tenants’ lives across South Australia. “These are the most significant reforms to South Australia’s rental laws in a generation and they will make a big difference for tenants across South State.”

Adding to the support for the reforms, Andrea Heading, Chief Executive of the Real Estate Institute of South Australia, acknowledged the collaborative approach taken in developing the legislation, ensuring it balanced the needs and rights of both tenants and landlords.

As South Australia prepares to implement these landmark rental reforms, the broader implications for the rental market remain a focal point of discussion, particularly how these changes will foster a fairer and more secure rental environment for all parties involved.

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