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How to Evict a Tenant: South Australia (SA)

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Let’s face it, you’re in the rental property game for the financial security that comes with it. 

A recent study shows that about 31 percent of Australian households live in rental properties. That provides a rich pool of premium tenants for landlords and property agents to tap into and grow their investments.

While lucrative, the rental property market has its fair share of risks and pitfalls. The ability to keep these risks to a minimum defines your level of success. Tenant screening is the simplest, yet most effective way to eliminate risks when managing a rental property.

Screening tenants lets you weed out the troublemakers who are out to deny you the much-needed revenue and fill your premises with high-calibre tenants instead. You won’t spend your precious time chasing after rent money or serving eviction notices. As long as you know how to evict a tenant legally, you can terminate the few problematic leases quickly and effectively.

Evicting a Tenant in South Australia

The eviction process in South Australia is detailed in the Residential Tenancy Act and gives you two options when evicting a tenant:

  1. A no grounds eviction; and 
  2. Eviction due to a breach notice.

Ending a Tenancy With no Grounds

To evict a tenant on a periodic lease agreement, you must issue them with a Form 3 and give them at least a 90-day notice period.

For a fixed-term lease agreement, you must issue the tenant with a Form 2A and give them at least a 28-day notice period at the end of their lease tenure.

Ending a Tenancy Due to a Breach Notice

You have two options when ending a lease due to a breach of a tenancy agreement. For minor violation, you must issue the tenant with a breach notice. However, severe offences call for a termination order from the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribuna (SACAT).

Issuing a breach notice – for minor violations, you need to issue the tenant with a Form 2 breach notice. It should highlight the nature of the breach, and inform the tenant that their tenancy is at risk if they don’t address the problem. The notice should inform the tenant they risk eviction if they don’t fix the breach.

  • A Form 2 notice carries a 7-day notice to fix the breach. It should also give the tenant a further 7 days to vacate the premises if they don’t address the violation within the first 7 days.
  • If the tenant heeds the notice and fixes the breach, the tenancy usually continues. However, a tenant can dispute the termination and challenge the eviction by applying to the tribunal.
  • If the tenant ignores the notice and doesn’t fix the breach, you can apply for a possession order from the tribunal and compel them to leave.   

Ending a Tenancy Due to Rent Arrears

There are two ways to terminate a lease when a tenant has rent arrears – issue a breach notice or apply to the tribunal (but only if the tenant is serial rent defaulter).

  • Issuing a breach notice – You must issue the tenant with a Form 2 when the rent is overdue by 14 days, giving them at a 7-day notice. The tenancy ends if the tenant doesn’t pay within the allotted time frame. If the 7 days’ notice lapses without payment, the tenant should vacate the premises.
  • Apply to the tribunal – apply for a termination notice if a tenant fails to pay the rent and has a history of rent arrears. You must have issued them with two separate Form 2 notices over rent arrears in the last 12 months. Since the tribunal holds a hearing, this option doesn’t lead to automatic termination. Depending on the tenant’s circumstances, they might order them to commit to a repayment plan and continue with the lease.

Ending a Tenancy for a Specific Reason

If you choose to terminate a lease agreement for any of these specified reasons, use a Form 3 and give the tenant at least a 60-day notice period. That applies for tenants on both fixed-term and periodic lease agreements.

  • Demolition – you must require all tenants to vacate the premises if you plan to demolish the entire property.
  • Repairs and renovations – if you’re carrying out extensive repairs and improvements, you must terminate the tenancy agreement. That applies when the nature of the work would pose a safety or health concern to the tenant if they were to remain on the premises as the work is carried out.
  • You need the premises for own occupation – you can terminate a tenancy if you need to move into the property or an immediate relative is taking up residency.
  • You need to sell the property – you can terminate all tenancies if you plan to sell and the buyer needs a vacant property. However, you can’t end the lease until you have a sales agreement in place.

If you regain possession of the property after terminating the tenancy agreements under any of the above methods, you can’t rent it out under a new tenancy agreement for 6 months.

Ending a Tenancy for Urgent Reasons

Serve your tenants with a Form 2B and give them the correct notice period if you need to terminate their tenancy urgently. Some of the urgency basis for ending an agreement include:

  • The premises are damaged or uninhabitable: immediate notice. This doesn’t apply if the landlord or the tenant is responsible for the damage.
  • The property can’t be lawfully used as a residence: immediate notice. If a property is legally reclassified for another use, you must terminate all lease agreements.
  • The property is compulsorily acquired: 60 days’ notice. If the government is going to purchase the property, you must terminate all agreements.

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Ending a Tenancy with a Termination Order Directly from The Tribunal

If the situation calls for it, you can apply for a termination order directly from SACAT. Instances that call for a termination order include:

  • Tenant severely damages the premises – if tenants’ reckless behaviour results in extensive damage to the property, you can apply to the tribunal for a termination order. You can apply for a termination order if a guest of the tenant is responsible for the damages on the property.
  • Tenant causes serious injuries – If a tenant intentionally injures you, your agent, or anyone else at a premise, you can apply for termination notice. The same case applies if a person visiting the tenant is responsible for the injuries.
  • Hardship to the landlord – if you feel that a tenant’s continued stay on your property would cause you undue hardship, you may apply for a termination order. Undue hardship requires the circumstances to be extremely dire. An example would be if your current residence burns down and are now facing homelessness. If the court allows the termination order, you may have to compensate the tenant for terminating a fixed-term lease agreement.  
  • A tenant engages in illegal use – if a tenant participates in, or allows illicit activities on the premises, you can have a judge issue a termination order. Gambling, drug supply, and manufacturing are some of the typical illegal activities.
  • A tenant is a nuisance – if a tenant engages in all manner of mischief that breaches the peace or inconvenience other tenants, you can end their tenancy with a direct termination order. Each tenant in a premise is entitled to a certain degree of comfort, peace, and privacy, and you have a right to kick out anyone who threatens these rights.

Improve Your Property Management Efficiency

Evicting tenants is a mind-numbing, time-consuming affair that only serves to compromise the amount of revenue generated from a rental property. Vetting your prospects to the highest levels lets you avoid such a predicament. With proper screening, you can fill your premises with high calibre clients.

Managing a property filled with premium tenants is a cakewalk since they aren’t out to fleece you or get into all manner of mischief at your expense. It affords you a chance to automate most of the operations with the help of tenant management software.

Technologies such as Lodge makes for a hassle-free property management experience. They reduce even the most arduous task such as tenant screening, advertising, creating a lease, and more to a few clicks of a button. You get to keep a close eye on your investment without splitting hairs.

Reserve your spot now for a personalised demo and see for yourself how easy it can actually be.

 

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