How quickly our lives have changed! Many new procedures have been implemented to adapt to the necessary requirements to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.
In South Australia the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 was introduced temporarily amending the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (RTA). These changes will stop once the COVID-19 pandemic is deemed over or as of 8th October 2020 – whichever occurs first. Only SACAT (The South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) has the authority to implement these changes.
Let’s look at the facts on the hot topic of eviction.
Can SACAT still evict a tenant and grant vacant possession to the landlord? In short – yes – unless the tenant is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and or due to COVID-19 circumstances the tenant would end up homeless. The onus of proof is on the tenant to provide and it must be linked to COVID-19. The new laws state eviction can’t be granted by SACAT for non-payment of rent or water invoices, if the tenant is suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. Once again, the tenant would have to prove this.
The amendments mention a landlord is unable to terminate a tenancy with a valid Form 2 (as a result of not paying rent or water invoices) if the circumstances are linked to COVID-19. In most cases the landlord still needs to issue the Form 2 if the tenant is in breach for non-payment of rent, so the landlord doesn’t void their landlord insurance policy requirements. It may be a good time for landlords to confirm requirements of their policies in this situation and also how COVID-19 has affected their policy.
A Tenancy Agreement is still a valid contract between the landlord and tenant so COVID-19 doesn’t excuse a tenant from their responsibilities to pay rent and water unless there is an arrangement between the parties or SACAT orders it. NB: Remember a landlord can also file for hardship due to the effects of COVID-19, however, they will also be required to validate their claims.
In all cases, SACAT will continue to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. SACAT also has the power to suspend orders for possession for any period SACAT thinks fit. As we work together, in all aspects of our lives, it does guarantee we will all get through this COVID-19 pandemic.
Call Lisa Akeroyd at Barossa Rental Specialists on 0414 335 660 for a private appointment to discuss your rental strategy.