South Australia’s almost two decades old Residential Tenancies Act is set for an overhaul, with the state government announcing that it would review the legislation to ensure it meets community needs.
"The proposed changes are designed to variously benefit tenants and landlords by increasing protection and clarity for both, and reducing red tape and delays in the system," deputy premier and minister for business services and consumers, John Rau, said in the discussion paper.
The Real Estate Institute of SA said it supports the review.
“The current Act is nearly 20 year old now, so the time’s right to look at what can be improved to make sure that the systems are streamlined and workloads are reduced for both industry and the government administering the laws,” REISA chief executive officer, Greg Troughton, said.
“A review is also timely to ensure that the balance is right to encourage investors into the market to accommodate for the growing need in the private residential rental market.”
“REISA will be consulting extensively with our property managers to confirm the areas which require discussion but straight off the bat, three key issues we’ll be looking at are bond provisions, exit times from an agreement and standards of hygiene and cleanliness for properties.”
The decision by the SA government to review its Residential Tenancies Act follows recent moves by the WA government, which is also reviewing its tenancy laws.
REISA said the current bond amounts of up to six weeks simply don’t cover rental arrear risks and potential damage to the property. “A change to these amounts will give landlords greater protection and highlight to tenants the responsibility they have in looking after someone else’s investment,” REISA said.
REISA also wanted to see greater precision in how cleanliness and hygenie is defined, so more clearly stating this in the Act will give tenants more confidence that the property they are leasing is clean and habitable state.
“Then at the time of ending the agreement, they will be expected to replicate these conditions,” REISA said.
“In the situation of a periodic or fixed-term lease, the notice timeframes are not the same for landlord and tenant and REISA is keen to see these aligned so all parties are equal and understand their responsibilities,” the state body said.
“Changes in this area will give more clarity for everyone who is a party to the agreement.”
REISA said it’s also involved in a working group through Study Adelaide and the review of this Act will allow for more consideration of student accommodation in tenancies.
“Student accommodation is a growing market in the metropolitan area and we need to ensure that our tenancy laws provide support and adequate protection for this group who are contributing to our local economy,” Mr Troughton added.