PIERRE — An Aberdeen-area Republican wants to give landlords more control over their residential properties.
But that control would ultimately come at the expense of tenants, opponents of Senate Bill 89 argue.
The South Dakota Senate on Jan. 25 advanced Sen. Michael Rohl’s proposal to cut the required notice of eviction for “at-will” tenants in half, from one month to 15 days. At-will tenants have month-to-month agreements that don’t specify a length of time.
“There is no contract or lease, nor is there a specific period of time for the tenant to vacate the property,” Rohl said. “It is assumed month-to-month with no term or agreed-to notices. They are designed for short-term (stays) and flexibility.”
Under the legislation, at-will renting of commercial properties would not change and still would require a 30-day notice to terminate. In other words, the 15-day rule would only apply to landlords.
Though the legislation was supported by the entire Senate Republican caucus, it has been in the crosshairs of a West River tenants rights advocacy group and Senate Democrats.
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“This is going to worsen the homelessness problem in my community,” Senate Minority Leader Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, said. “It is already a problem of people leaving and trying to go places … Can you imagine if you had a trailer house on a rented lot?”
Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Shawn Bordeaux, D-Mission, agrees.
“We have a lot of folks who live in trailer homes in my community,” Bordeaux said. “It is really tough, especially on a reservation, when there is just not a lot of land to move to, we have in our constitution that we can’t sell our land.”
Rohl, though, said he sees the measure as one of deregulation.
“I believe the best way to spur private sector investment is building investor confidence by cutting restrictions and allowing businesses to fill a niche in their communities,” Rohl said after the vote. “Short-term leasing has been continuing to grow to meet the needs of workforce shortages, and landlords and tenants deserve the right to negotiate leases that fit their individual needs.”
The bill now heads to the state House. In the Senate, both Rohl and Sen. Al Nostrum, R-Aberdeen, voted in favor of the bill.