About substandard properties
All residential properties must meet the minimum standards in the Housing Improvement Act 2016.
Concerns about serious property defects which affect the health and safety of occupants, visitors to the property, or members of the public can be reported to the Housing Safety Authority who can declare a property to be substandard.
The Housing Safety Authority can declare a property to be substandard. Substandard properties subject to an order or notice are listed on a public register.
All properties currently subject to a substandard property order under the Act are listed on the register.
Conditions that make a property substandard
A property can be declared substandard if it does not comply with minimum housing standards (section 5.2) and is a health or safety risk. Some examples include:
- inadequate kitchen, bathroom, toilet or laundry facilities
- defective plumbing, gas or electrical services
- poor natural lighting or ventilation
- structures that are at risk of collapse.
Report a substandard property
Anyone can make a complaint about the standard of any residential property. If you are renting the property, you should:
- Contact your landlord (or property agent) to talk about the problems with your property and ask for repairs to be carried out. If you do not receive a response you should give written notice to carry out the repairs.
- If there has been no action contact Consumer and Business Services to discuss alternatives.
- If there has still been no resolution and the defects may be a health or safety risk, contact the Housing Safety Authority or complete the report form.
If you are living in a public housing property contact Housing SA.
If you are living in a community housing property contact your community housing provider.
When a property is reported
If a property has been reported to the Housing Safety Authority they will inspect the property. They do not need the owner's permission to do this. A tenant can choose to have a relative, friend, support worker, or agent present at the inspection.
An authorised Housing Investigation Officer (HIO) will record a list of any defects and explain the next steps.
If there are no serious defects with the property the complaint will be closed.
If the property poses health and safety risks, and defects are recorded, orders may be issued to the property owner. The Housing Safety Authority will liaise with owners to improve substandard defects before beginning any regulatory process.
An owner cannot terminate a residential tenancy agreement and evict a tenant within six months of the property being inspected by an HIO unless they make an application for eviction through the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).
Orders and enforcement
If the property is substandard, one or more orders can be made on the property:
- Housing assessment order - the property may be unsafe or unsuitable for human habitation, but an assessment is required.
- Housing improvement order - the property is unsafe or unsuitable for human habitation, and specific works are required to improve the property.
- Housing demolition order - the property is so unsafe or unsuitable for human habitation and it would be impractical or unreasonable to improve the property. A demolition order may refer to the whole or part of a property.
An owner must comply with an order or notice issued under the Act within the compliance timeframe. Non-compliance without a valid reason is an offence and carries a maximum penalty of $10,000.
If a property has been declared uninhabitable and a notice to vacate has been issued to the occupant, the owner must not re-let the property.
An owner can apply to have any decision reviewed at SACAT within 28 days of the decision being made.
Rent control and the register
If a housing improvement order has been issued, rent control may be applied to ensure that tenants are not paying full market rent while living in substandard conditions.
It is an offence for an owner to charge more than the rent control amount.
If a property subject to an order or rent control notice is advertised for sale or lease, all advertisements or lease agreements must contain a statement that an order or notice applies to the property.
If the housing improvement order and rent control notice are revoked, the owner may increase the rent for the property by giving 14 days written notice to the tenant. That notice must be provided within 60 days of the rent control notice being revoked.