South Australia’s 20-year-old Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) is set to undergo a review. The review proposal, announced by Deputy Premier and Minister for Business Services and Consumers, John Rau, was welcomed by the Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA).
The aim of the review is to streamline systems and reduce workloads for those administering the laws. It will examine and update those laws that are considered to be out of date or unfair for tenants and landlords.
The REISA hopes the reforms will encourage growth in property investment, as there is a growing need for more properties in the private residential rental market.
Three key areas that have been identified as needing reform are:
The REISA claims that the current bond requirements of up to six weeks’ rent are inadequate to cover potential damage to the property or failure by the tenant to pay rent in arrears. They argue that increasing the amount of bond required will give landlords greater protection and encourage tenants to take their responsibilities in looking after someone else’s hard-earned investment propertymore seriously.
Hygiene and cleanliness standards
It is also argued that the condition a rental property is in before a tenant moves in and after they vacate is not defined clearly enough in the current law. Stating more precisely what is considered to be a clean and habitable condition will give tenants the security of knowing that the condition of the property when they move in is the condition that must be replicated when they move out. This would remove any grey areas for both tenants and landlords.
Required notice for tenants to vacate or landlords to evict is not the same under the Act, and the REISA wants to see the periods aligned so that everyone is clear about their responsibilities. Currently, a landlord must give a tenant 90 days notice to vacate after a fixed-term lease has expired, or 60 days if they wish to occupy the property themselves, renovate or demolish it. The tenant is only required to give 21 days notice before leaving for any reason.
Another area the REISA believes requires attention in the review is that of student accommodation, which is a growing market in the Adelaide metropolitan area and one where students need additional support and protection.
Other proposed reforms to the Act include:
- Improving regulations regarding entry and inspection times
- Allowing landlords to maintain their anonymity when using a property manager
- Restricting property managers from turning application forms into binding tenancy agreements
- Making it easier for landlords to evict tenants who are constantly in arrears
- Improving protection for tenants in boarding houses
- Increasing the amount of rent in advance required for high-end properties
- Requiring landlords to disclose their intention to sell a rental property
- Streamlining the Rent Tribunal’s procedures by determining claims without the need for landlord and tenant to be present and reducing the required notice periods for certain forms and applications.
After consultation with all interested parties, the government plans to implement the proposed changes in parliament later this year.