Renting a substandard property

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 may declare a property to be substandard.

All residential properties must meet the minimum standards in the Housing Improvement Regulations 2017.

All properties currently subject to a substandard property order under the Act are listed on the substandard property register.

Conditions that make a property substandard

A property may be declared substandard if it does not comply with minimum housing standards (Part 3 of the Regulations) and presents a health or safety risk. Some examples include:

  • inadequate kitchen, bathroom, toilet or laundry facilities
  • defective plumbing, gas or electrical services
  • poor lighting or ventilation
  • Inadequate fire safety provisions
  • hazardous materials - eg disturbed or damaged asbestos
  • premises inadequately converted into a rooming house
  • structures that are at risk of collapse.

Report a substandard property

Anyone can make a complaint about the standard of any residential property in South Australia. If you are renting the property, you should:

  1. Notify your landlord or property agent by mail, email or phone call about the problems with your property and ask for repairs to be carried out in a reasonable timeframe.
    If you are living in a public housing property contact the SA Housing Authority and follow their processes to report a maintenance issue.
    If you are living in a community housing property contact your community housing provider and follow their processes to report a maintenance issue.
  2. If there has been no progress and repairs are not carried out, contact Consumer and Business Services to discuss alternatives.
  3. If the property poses a health or safety risk, contact the Housing Safety Authority or complete the report a substandard property form

When a property is reported

If a property has been reported to the Housing Safety Authority they may provide notice to 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 officer will record a list of any defects and may take photographs and evidence upon their inspection of the property.

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 may liaise with owners to improve substandard defects before beginning any regulatory process.

An owner can choose to review the decision if they believe it to be inaccurate or resolved.

Housing improvement orders

If the property is substandard, one or more orders may be made on the property:

  • assessment order - the property may be unsafe or unsuitable for human habitation, but an assessment is required.
  • improvement order - the property is unsafe or unsuitable for human habitation, and specific works are required to improve the property.
  • 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 may be an offence and carries a maximum penalty of $10,000.

Rent control

If a housing improvement order has been issued, rent control may be applied to ensure tenants are not paying full market rent while living in substandard conditions.

Preliminary rent control notice

Once a housing improvement order has been issued, the owner of the property may receive a preliminary notice to improve the condition of the property or reduce the rent. The owner has up to 14 days to respond to this notice.

Rent control notice

If the property owner does not respond to the preliminary notice with an adequate reason or if the property remains unsafe, a rent control notice will be issued with a maximum weekly rent amount and published in the government gazette and on the substandard property register.

The rent control amount will be calculated based on the condition of the property and the market value.

If a landlord charges more than the amount in the rent control notice, the landlord has committed an offence and fees and penalties may apply.

Notice to vacate

If a property has been declared uninhabitable and a notice to vacate has been issued to the occupant, the owner must not allow the property to be occupied.

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Page last updated 2 March 2021

Provided by:
SA Housing Authority
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