Landlord Rights & Responsibilities
The responsibilities of the landlord are to keep the premises in a safe and habitable condition and leave the tenant to the quiet enjoyment of the property. The landlord has the right to the rent money (provided premises have been kept in good condition) and also the right to the premises, in good condition, after the rental period has ended. The landlord may also have other rights, as provided by a written rental agreement. A landlord has certain rights, including the right to require a security deposit and the right to evict a tenant, under certain circumstances.
Many landlords require a security or damage deposit to be furnished by the tenant at the start of the rental period.
Before giving a security deposit, the tenant should inspect the premises and prepare a statement as to its condition. This statement should be signed by both landlord and tenant. This will protect both parties from misunderstandings later about what damage the tenant caused.
Security Deposit Limits
A landlord may not require a security deposit in excess of one month's rent unless "special conditions" exist which "pose danger to maintenance of the premises." An example of this is requiring extra deposit money to have a pet on the premises.
Return of Deposit
When a tenant moves out, the landlord is required either to return the deposit or to provide a written statement showing the specific reason for his failure to return it. This statement must be furnished within two weeks after the termination of the tenancy and the landlord's receipt of the tenant's mailing address or delivery instructions.
The landlord may withhold from the deposit only such amounts as are necessary either to remedy defaults in the payment of rent or to restore the premises to their condition at the beginning of the tenancy (ordinary "wear and tear" excepted). If the landlord withholds the deposit, the tenant may also demand an itemized account of the deposit withheld. This must be provided within 45 days of the termination of the tenancy. If the landlord does not follow these rules, he or she forfeits the deposit.
The only lawful way to evict a tenant is for the landlord to obtain a court order signed by the circuit court or magistrate judge. This is obtained in a lawsuit called a "forcible entry and detainer" action. After giving a three-day notice, a landlord can secure a court order to have a tenant evicted if either:
- The tenant is in unlawful possession of the landlord's property (by remaining on the property after the expiration of a rental agreement or failing to pay rent for more than three days after it is due)
- The tenant substantially damages the premises
- The tenant does or fails to do something which, under the terms of the lease, is identical to cancellation
Notice to Vacate
A tenant must be given three days notice to vacate before a forcible entry and detainer action can be commenced by a landlord. If the tenant refuses to move after three days, the landlord can then file a lawsuit for eviction.
For more information, please contact the:
South Dakota Office of Attorney General
1302 E Highway 14
Pierre, SD 57501
South Dakota Office of Attorney General Website